A subject I write about regularly, and I suspect, will continue to do so… The pinch-points of start-up and how to manage them. However, on this occasion I’ve decided to call on a friend and colleague to provide her insights – and I’m delighted to be co-writing with
I asked Orlaith what she considered to be the key ‘pinch points’ for start-ups and SMEs, and how to best manage their impacts.
The Knowing … and the Not-Knowing!
I do feel for people who take to the Den’s floor to pitch – it takes a certain brand of craziness to put yourself out there, no-holds-barred and await a grilling. Reality television likes the barmy or the brilliant, and not much in between, so there are many good ideas that don’t showcase well.
However, there’s a lesson to be learned here; and that is the fact that you have to know your business inside-out and upside-down before you attempt to pitch it anywhere, let alone on television. Why? Because in every area of business, awareness of your product, service, pricing, message, growth plan, target-markets [to name but a few!] are key drivers in successful business development. Only fools rush in, and taking the time to research, clarify and strategise your business offering are wise ways to dodge some major growing pains.
Sweating the Small Stuff…
.. but not paying attention to the big picture. As start-ups and SMEs in growth stages, there is often a propensity to obsess. About everything. And yes, I understand that everything has to be ‘just right’, but do you know what? You can end up spending so much time on tweaking the logo – one. more. time. – that you miss out on a great opportunity to showcase to a potential client, make a new connection or produce a good proposal. Understand what matters, and move on.
Getting “Hung-Up” Online
Apropos the last point, I have come across start-ups where the owners have given huge chunks of their lives to designing a wonderful website and establishing a social media presence without a customer base. You are not in business until you have customers, and when you have customers you need to mind them, and give them the required time. I am a huge fan of social media, but it has to be corralled into small windows in the working day. It should work for you, not the other way around.
What’s Your Vision?
I know Olwen talks a lot about strategy, something I’m also a fan of – but we share a very strong view on the importance of vision [pardon the pun!]. Developing a small business or start-up requires determination, focus, drive and an unerring commitment to do what it takes to succeed.
Business can be testing at times and you need to have a vision which keeps you on-track, tests you and drives you onwards when the going gets tough. Most true entrepreneurs believe that the world can’t do without their product – it is what keeps them motivated in the lean times.
Scream for Help!
Don’t ask for help, scream for it. Believe it or not there are lots of people a bit further up the ladder than you are currently who remember what it was like and are willing to share a few shortcuts. You don’t have to plough a lonely furrow all the time – use networking events to connect with the right people in your industry and ask for advice. One short conversation with the right person might save you a lot of time and money.
Find a Mentor
Mentoring is increasingly being recognised as one of the key factors in determining the likely success of a start-up. A regular mentor can provide expert advice, experience, a sounding board, and above all a requirement for accountability. Until you are ready to form a non-executive board of directors, to facilitate some serious growth, a mentor can do wonders in getting a new business well established.
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