I read somewhere that people would be exiting this first lockdown as a "hunk, chunk or a drunk". The three months of Christmas eating and drinking has definitely taken its toll on many. As things reopen a lot of people will be looking to make some changes in their lives. Many will be looking to lose those few pounds that were put on during lockdown. Others will be considering a new career as certain business sectors will be forced to shed jobs. There will of course be a lot of economic uncertainty and many will wonder what governments across the world will do to restart a stalled economy. Personally, I think many governments will abandon any desire to implement an austerity agenda. There would be a real danger of an economic implosion if they did this. I think governments in Ireland and the UK will be keen to encourage enterprise and employment as much as possible. In my opinion it might be a great time to start a business and take control of your economic destiny.
I want to discuss that today and also what you should avoid.
Of course, to a get a business going you need a business idea. For many, this idea is usually something they've seen work somewhere else or an idea they have. The first port of call for many is the Local Enterprise Agency and in Derry that is Enterprise North West based at NW Business Complex. For many this is where the idea gets put on paper and becomes a business plan. The advisors there will also guide you on your marketing plan and on the financial aspects you will need to consider. What seems like a real money spinner needs to be scoped out in terms of costs versus revenues. I've seen many a good business idea fail the financial analysis that every venture needs to pass. Another essential piece of the jigsaw is mapping out a cashflow. A cashflow will estimate the inflows and outflows of revenue into the business. I've seen many a good business fail not from lack of business but from not getting paid.
So, you have an idea and you talk to the Enterprise Agency and now you have a detailed plan. What happens next? The next steps involve some self reflection. Starting a business sounds great but it is a big step. You will need to invest your own time and money and in many occasions you will have to borrow money from banks and others. You definitely will need the support from your family and friends. Starting a business can consume you in a way which nothing else can. It can be your first and last thought every day. It can be very rewarding but equally taxing. I must admit I've found business owners to be a strange breed in many ways. I'm part of that fraternity, and have been for over 20 years. You actually never switch off and totally relaxing for a 2 week holiday will become a thing of the past. So please don't be fooled into thinking it's a quick way to get rich because it can be financially rewarding but you take all the risks and the buck stops with you. I will add however, that many business owners I know couldn't work for someone else. Their personality often makes them unemployable. For others starting something they love and doing something they love everyday often doesn't feel like a job. It's a life choice and they thrive on it.
So, if you are thinking of taking that leap in the unknown reduce the risk of failure and talk to the professionals at Enterprise North West. We also recommend to all new start-ups the benefits of engaging an accountant. It's true you can do a lot of stuff online, but accountants can often guide you in ways which save you thousands of pounds.
I also advise people to be careful who they take business advice off. Be very careful about seeking advice from someone who has no expertise or track record in the area. I've seen a number of individuals, some of them PT's posting videos offering to be Life/Business mentors to our young people. I've watched some of their nonsense in short videos and often it repeats mantras they've seen somewhere online. Many of them are like "poundshop Tony Robbins". Business advice is a serious business and experience, subject knowledge, and track record are the essential ingredients any mentor or advisor should have. Benching 140lbs or running 4 marathons is impressive but doesn't qualify someone to give business advice. The best doctors have experience and subject knowledge and have treated a lot of patients. They operate on autopilot as their experience shines through. Good business advisors are the same.
And please don't be taken in with some of these "Mind Mentors". Success in business is not guaranteed. You have to work at it. Sometimes you do all the right things and you still fail to make that breakthrough. I am all for positivity, but I don't subscribe to some of these "mind coaches" who make out success is in some way linked to attending a series of their fee charging workshops. All the successful people I know, wouldn't waste 5 minutes of their life in any of these workshops. If you have to sit in a room with mildly successful people telling you how great you are or that you only have to "believe it and it will happen" then perhaps being a business owner isn't for you at this stage of your life. Other lines or mantras I've heard peddled are "a positive attitude can overcome any obstruction" or "good things happen to those who go out and get them". I'm sorry folks, but in business this is just not true. Sometimes great businesses fail, and the people involved would scoff at this nonsense. I've seen driven people who worked their socks off fail. I've seen them work 70 hr weeks with the greatest self belief and be bankrupted when a huge customer doesn't pay or a large customer goes bankrupt. Packaging success into a set of mantras or the need believe in yourself and be positive fails to recognise that winners in business who start companies already possess these traits. Somethings really can't be taught, and thinking that by attending a few events that it can be, misses the whole point.
So, get out there and talk to the experts and take soundings from your friends. If you have self belief and a good business idea and are willing to take some risks, then perhaps you will be running your own business very soon.