EARLY STAGE BUSINESSES
This week Advantage Business Angels' managing director Neil Mackay weighs up the reasons for starting a business
At a recent function I was talking to an individual who had just come out of a big company, partly by being pushed and partly because he was fed up with the environment and the work he was doing.
He was keen to know about starting a business: how to go about it, whether it was a good time, etc.
I have this type of conversation very frequently and I suspect it will happen more and more. The conversations are different but have a number of common themes - often not spoken about explicitly but easy to spot after a while. The big one is emotion.
These emotions are usually pretty well managed, but are nevertheless there, bubbling away. Usually it's a combination of relief, excitement and fear. Relief because the person has seen the change coming and has typically tried to avoid it, until the pressure built and things "burst". Excitement comes because now the change has happened, the individual has "permission" to try something new which creates a bit of a thrill, tinged with a fear of failure.
Interestingly the fear of failure does have a financial element to it but more often it is about a fear of the unknown and is usually coupled with a twinge of self doubt - can I do it, can I succeed? In my experience this is the single most important issue that an individual should confront before starting their own business.
One of the things I see in successful entrepreneurs is a fantastic sense of self-belief or some other substitute emotion that creates the same effect: an absolute confidence and determination to succeed whatever happens. Substitute emotions vary but include "no other choice" and competitiveness.
Having "no other choice" is a common one. Here the entrepreneur was in a hopeless situation that appeared to have no way out. Most logical people would quit and run away but the entrepreneur believes they have no other choice, stays, tries something new and hey presto it works and success comes, often quickly thereafter.
Competitiveness is less common and does not always succeed but can be very effective.
This type of entrepreneur just cannot bear the idea that somebody or something could possible beat them. They will take on the world and fight like a demon. Some of these ultra competitors can also build and work in teams, in which case they can be very effective, others are real loners and in my experience, they struggle.
Building a business is a team activity these days. You have to have a strong captain, but it is a team activity.
All of this leads to some advice for budding entrepreneurs: talk to people. Learn from the experiences of others before you decide. There is an excellent group called Beer-mat (beermat.ecademy.com) run by Mike Southern. Have a look at the site or go to an event. And of course I must plug our own offering here www.poetsfriday.com as well.
Running your own business is either one of the most exhilarating experiences in life or a real misery. It all depends on what makes you tick.