Knowing who to ask for advice is crucial when starting your own business
One of the most challenging aspects of starting your own business is knowing where to begin and who to ask for good advice.
Listen to those who have learned from mistakes
Having worked with many young entrepreneurs my first piece of advice is to seek out support from trusted experts, as well as from entrepreneurs who have been there before, made the mistakes and learned from them. Listen to everyone who you think has knowledge or experience that could benefit you. Take everything in, document it and don’t initially disregard any input/opinion. It will really help hone a business idea, help identify challenges and solutions to these challenges.
Be prepared to adapt your business idea
Most entrepreneurs are very passionate about their business idea. This can be both a positive and a negative. On one hand, being dedicated to your business idea and having high motivation to pursue it is extremely important. It means that you will put in the energy and commitment necessary to be successful. However, sometimes this passion and commitment to a business idea can be mis-guided. Just because you truly believe in your business idea does not, of itself, mean that you have the right product or service for today’s market. Nor does it mean that you can make it profitable. Nor does it mean that you have the necessary skillset to bring the idea to fruition. So, seeking independent and frank advice from trusted sources can be a critical component of progressing your business idea to the next level.
Identify the right circles - and network
Another tip for young entrepreneurs is to surround themselves with positive people. Starting a business can be a lonely place – you have to wear many hats and be an expert in several key areas, yet you may not have the benefit of colleagues to bounce things off. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. This country has a wealth of formal and informal networking opportunities that are occurring throughout the year. There are so many ways for young entrepreneurs to connect with like-minded people, through networking events, entrepreneur hubs and using social media platforms to build relationships within the business community. You need to get out there and make a conscious effort to network and meet people who can help you achieve your goals. The key to good networking is identifying the right circles, the kind of places and events where you can have an opportunity to get to know the people that you need to know.
Connecting with people like this will help build the young entrepreneur’s own personal brand, as every entrepreneur is part of their business brand, especially when the business is starting off and is small. This networking and connecting with like-minded people will provide a support when there are challenges, possible routes to new business, to new funding opportunities and valuable product or service research and development.
For young people, often it can seem daunting looking for this connectivity into the business community. Even attending business networking events or reaching out digitally, can be somewhat intimidating when their business idea is just at the idea phase, but my advice is that it is never too early to make these connections.
Use the local supports as much as possible
There are many supports available both from the LEO and a host of other agencies and organisations. LEOs can give you a steer on what your options are for raising finance, networking and making connections, enhancing your management skills, researching markets, promoting your business, and many more areas. There are a myriad of support services available and a lot of these supports are state-funded. LEO advisors know the “business support” landscape intimately, so you do not need to spend a lot of precious time navigating different state bodies and organisations trying to find services or programmes that are right for you. That’s why LEOs are referred to as the “first stop shop” for business support services.
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is a nationwide competition, run across three categories: Best Business Idea, Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business. As part of the process, up to 450 young entrepreneurs this year will be invited by the LEOs to attend free regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ to help them develop their businesses and new venture ideas.
Over 500 of these young entrepreneurs have gone on to compete regionally and nationally and have shared in over €6.5 million of funding for their businesses, through the investment fund that is part of the competition, entries for which close this Friday, March 15.
Oisín Geoghegan, Chair of network of Local Enterprise Offices