'No matter how good your business, don't rest on your laurels with a single service or product'
Michael Dawson chief executive, One4all
'I have had a number of start-ups over the years and even knowing what I wish I'd known before I started, sometimes these lessons are quickly forgotten.
"Don't get me wrong, all the mistakes I have made over the years have been greatly respected and quickly turned into learning experiences in subsequent businesses - all probably, bar one.
"Research the market place and your idea as extensively as you can. The US market, we all know, is quite different to the Irish market. However, within the US, you have 50 states and each one can be as diverse in their cultures, laws and markets as Ireland is to the States itself. Even much closer to home, in the UK, where we would understandably assume that most things were the same as in Ireland, this is simply not the case.
"Support is out there, with many support networks, both regionally and locally, now in place, so you don't need to go it alone. Make the time to get involved with these like-minded groups and discover that the issue you're facing this week was sorted by someone else last week.
"Also, on the subject of support, build an advisory board around your business, nothing too cumbersome, perhaps made up of family, friends and other experienced business people that you may know and trust or who may have an understanding for your business. This group could meet for an hour a month, or even less frequently, to act as a sounding board and provide independent advice.
"Innovate as soon as circumstance allows. Don't rest on your laurels with a single service or single product, no matter how good your business is. Many of the first victims of the recent downturn are what I would refer to as 'one-trick ponies', who found themselves in a business cul-de-sac with not enough time to turn around.
"Be very cautious of 'experts' and 'consultants', they don't always have the right answers. If you must engage, then try and get them from a highly recommended source and pay them based on what they deliver, not what they promise.
"Finally, the one lesson that I wish I'd known, that I now know inside out, but is still the hardest to put into practice: the estimated time for getting up and running. Whatever time we believe it will take to get a new business up and running we are sure to be over-optimistic - it's the nature of the entrepreneur.
"So we need to, at a minimum, double that time we estimate and even at that we might still be tight. Failure to do this has serious knock-on for sales projections, budgets and cash flow."
Sunday Indo Business