Starting out in business can feel daunting at times, but Damian Baetens, a creative business mentor with Transmit Startups, says this shouldn't stop you. He shared five pieces of advice in this article for Creative Choices.
Fighting the fear factor is key to getting your business ideas off the ground. Here is a rundown of five fears often faced by those on the brink of starting out – and my advice to overcome those worries.
[headline htype="h4"]1. Don't be afraid of failure [/headline]
This is something that worries everyone when they start out. But by going through a few simple steps at the outset, you can prepare to succeed rather than worrying about things not working out. Some basic market research and business planning will give you a sense of whether your business idea is going to stack up for you – and if there’s demand for your product or service. This will either reassure you or tell you it’s time to move on and do something else.
Concentrate on building a business case for your proposition so you feel confident based on evidence, not just enthusiasm.
At the age of 23, Elliott Clark wanted to grow his PA hire business, Clear and Loud, by taking out a Government Start-Up Loan. His business had started out very organically, based on word-of-mouth recommendations. He wondered if he could make a living from the entertainment world that he loved so much. With support and mentoring, he put together a formal business plan and a cashflow forecast. He was then able to successfully apply for finance. Elliott has now purchased new gear in order to be able to offer new services to studios, tours, bands and venues – and to run multiple gigs on the same night.
[headline htype="h4"]2. Don't fear a lack of experience [/headline]
If you’re starting a business or going self-employed, chances are you have limited previous experience of working freelance. You only gain experience in business by starting a business. The key to succeeding is to prepare well before you begin and minimise the risks where you can. Most successful entrepreneurs have no experience when they start, but they have a good idea and a solid plan of where to start.
[headline htype="h4"]3. Don't fear leaving paid employment [/headline]
The days of a job for life are long gone, and today’s workforce needs to be prepared to move around. According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2012, adults in the UK work for an average of 11 employers during their careers, and this is likely to rise over the coming years. With this in mind, self-employment can be seen as a way of having more control over your own destiny.
As well as that, being a self-starter is a great way to provide real evidence for your skills, and show people you can deliver something in the real world .
Another young entrepreneur, Hannah Proctor, recently set up her own online vintage clothing store, Aphrodite and Ares, at the age of 21. She loves the freedom of working for herself.
"Some people like the security of the nine to five and to know exactly what they are going to do each day, but that’s just not for me.
"With my online business I’m not tied down to a particular location. If I decide to move to another part of the world, I can. I’ll just take my business with me."
[headline htype="h4"]4. Avoid freelance isolation [/headline]
You are not alone. Whatever your business, and wherever you are based, there are many agencies and support networks that you can tap into as you begin to grow. These networks will also potentially be places where you will meet clients and start to sell your business.
Finding business mentoring is a good idea. Organisations such as Transmit Startups provide support as you take the first steps. Mentors will help you find out where your networks are and make sure you go into them with a clear vision of your next steps.
Hannah really valued having a word of encouragement to power her through each stage of starting up Aphrodite and Ares.
"Hardly a day goes by without me receiving an email from my mentor, who is right behind me, getting me excited about the next step.
"That support has been fantastic – it’s something you really value when you’re working by yourself."
[headline htype="h4"]5. Set up your business at your own pace [/headline]
Whatever your business is, it can form part of a portfolio of activities. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-time business, or full-time employment. You can do both.
Many people in creative sectors are part-time self-employed and do other paid work to balance the risk. This also means you can gain the experience you need while you get things set up and find your feet. Having a mix of activities and sources of income is very common – especially when starting out.
Stan McLeod recently developed BandWagon, an online service to bring the right bands and the right venues together. The company has big ambitions to grow internationally, and is already getting into a position to attract a major funder. However, Stan is cautious about relying on the business just yet for his own wages. He remains employed part-time by the NHS to subsidise the rapid development of BandWagon.
"I’m still working a couple of days a week in my job. This means I’m not having to make any sacrifices with regard to the business because I’m not taking money out for myself yet.
"I will continue this way until the time is right, and then I will take the leap and work for myself full-time. I can’t wait."