My Business escapades – The rises and humbling falls

One of dreams in life is to run my own successful business. I feel I have the qualities to do so, and I don’t think it’s an overly far fetched dream. Very achievable. I believed this even more before I started actually trying to start my own business. I had an idea, I felt it would work, and I decided “That’s it, I’ve done it, this is going to be big!”. Now, I am not currently running a big business. This initial idea has not worked out, and in fact, my initial naivety and assumption of success has almost turned into a snide cynicism of those trying to grow their start-ups. Before I explain why, I’m going to throw a few stats and facts at you, that I wish I had taken more seriously and realistically before I threw myself into my first project.

  • 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% by year 5 and 70% by year 10
  • The average start-up spends £22756 in its first year
  • Being realistic will keep your business alive
  • Business owners hire people smarter than them
My first crack at a business

My initial business idea was a fan appreciation service for football clubs. I felt football fans were vastly underappreciated, and clubs weren’t doing enough about it. We would approach clubs, with fan support, and act as a freelance service which shows appreciation from the club to the fans. It would improve club image and fan relations, and seemed somewhat unobjectionable. I stand by this idea and still think it could work with enough capital and contacts, but sadly, capital is not something a student comes by easily. I mean, I have to eat, I can’t spend all my money on advertising and website building etc. I had 3 partners working on this with me, and tried to stick by the 4th fact I mentioned earlier. I had a marketing man with experience in social media advertising, I had my CFO who is vastly quicker and more numerical than myself and I had my football man, who simply put, runs rings around me with regards to football knowledge.

“Planning without action is futile. Action without planning is fatal.”

Cornelius Fichtner

Now, when you start a business, you need a plan. The four of us spent hours and hours, having conference calls week after week, in order to come up with and finish our professional business plan. It looked good, the plan was of sound realism (we thought at least) and we tried to push ahead. We began advertising, on Facebook, and put about £20 into a boosted post. We wanted to get fan opinions (our survey has almost 100 responders), we wanted fan support, hence we boosted our Facebook page. I, in my simple minded way, assumed that a slow and steady stream of likes would come in. We were an agreeable page, and it made sense. The page tanked. 0 likes came in from our advert, and looking back at it, our advert was dire, poorly thought out and grabbed next to no attention. I have taken all this as a learning experience. So, my first tips for anyone trying to avoid mistakes as a start-up:

  • Don’t rush – the more time you spend improving and adapting, the better it will be
  • Accept your naivety – talk to someone who has done this before, it could save you a lot of time and energy
  • Learn from your errors – If you don’t, you will make mistakes again and again, and you will never make it

I recently had another idea. Completely different but more short-lived. Mind you, it was a good idea. I aimed to create a huge database about every university in the country, and the experiences students got at them. It would be a way for sixth form students to know exactly where they should go based on their preferences, and we would match them with their perfect universities. The initial costs were going to be high, but this idea had more behind it, and I honestly thought it could get an investment. I went to the quant from the last startup idea. I’d been working hard on the database and already had hundreds of data points, and a part written business plan. All was looking good. Until my naivety hit me again. There was already a service that did this. Exactly. Within my research of the competition, which was quick and poorly thought out, I had completely missed it. I was gutted, but I had to learn. So, my final two tips for all of you looking to start a business at any point:

  • Be thorough – don’t let your research slack because you’re too eager to get started
  • Don’t quit – If one idea fails, come up with another one. Eventually, it will come.

Or, start a blog, tell people what not to do and have an ideas blank for months and months! I will keep you updated with any more lessons I learn on my business journey and as it matures. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and I hope you push yourself to achieve your goals in life, as I am trying to do with mine!

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