What I wish I’d known before I started: 'Don't throw money at advertising just because it appears to be the right thing to do...'
Dermot Goode, Health insurance analyst totalhealthcover.ie
'Don't let doubts hold you back. If you have a sound business model, if you know you have the ability to implement it, if you have enough working capital to get you through the first six months, if you've road-tested your proposition and, most importantly, if you have the full backing of your family, then go for it.
"If I have one regret in this regard, it's not listening to my wife sooner.
"Work-life balance is critical if you're going to stay the course. When I first set up www.healthinsurancesavings.ie in 2009, it was very successful - in fact, it was too successful. The business model was flawed in terms of capacity planning, and I was overwhelmed by the volume of enquiries as I tried to personally deal with every single customer when it was simply not necessary.
"With www.totalhealthcover.ie, people can access comparison information online free of charge. I am still extremely busy, but family downtime is now an integral part of my planning.
"Don't throw money at advertising just because it appears to be the right thing to do. Challenge advertising propositions in terms of return on investment. If it's not measurable and if it doesn't hit your target audience, don't do it.
"The internet is excellent in this regard, as you can track enquiries and conversion rates back to specific initiatives.
"Spend the necessary time and money on getting your online proposition right. My first website missed the mark somewhat in that I tried to tell the customer everything about my business, which meant it was too text-heavy and difficult to navigate.
"Have people you trust continually testing your customer journey so you know what changes need to be made.
"Finally, keep listening, learning and networking. Surround yourself with people who are successful in their own right but who will keep challenging you in terms of your strategy and assumptions.
"Always ask yourself how your business model could be made redundant, as you can be sure that someone else is considering the same point right now.
"Most of all, always protect your reputation and, irrespective of the financial pressures which will undoubtedly arise, never partner with any entity or scheme that could undermine this. What can take years to create can potentially be destroyed overnight."
Sunday Indo Business