From Coco Chanel to Mark Zuckerberg, the plight of the budding young entrepreneur has been very much in the spotlight of late. And this is not a dream that we resign to the silver screen and the back of our minds. The sheer number of episodes of Dragon’s Den gives an inkling of the amount of Brits who are attempting to set out on that road to riches that is setting up your own business.
The entrepreneurial spirit is something that we celebrate here at Best Western, as, with each of our hotels being individually owned and managed, entrepreneurs and small business owners are at the heart of our business model. So, in a bid to hail a nation of young inventors, we’ve asked 13 successful business people for their top tip for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Rajeeb Dey, CEO/Founder of Enternships.com
“Network, network, network. Networking isn’t just about accumulating masses of business cards and LinkedIn contacts but about adding value to those around you. Whenever I meet someone I think about who I can introduce them to which could lead to mutual benefit. This not only helps the two people but also helps keep your network active.”
Steven Bradley of vanseodesign.com
“The best advice I would give new entrepreneurs is to not give up, to be persistent. Everyone experiences downtimes and the people who succeed are often the ones who don’t give up. A big part of success is simply sticking with something long enough.”
Guido J. van den Elshout of happyhotelier.com
“Whatever you do and hope to achieve, do not forget the bottom-line, ever!
Start your day asking yourself “What can I do today to better the bottom-line” and end every day with asking yourself: “What did I do today to better the bottom-line and what shall I do tomorrow to better the bottom-line”
Chris Kaday of chriskaday.co.uk
“Building a successful business is all about doing not thinking. In my experience most business owners, and particularly aspiring entrepreneurs, spend far too much time bogged down in pondering, theorising and intellectualising instead of just getting on with it. Business is all about momentum and there is no angst in action, so make a decision, implement and move on.”
Nisa Chitakasem and Simon North, founders of positionignition.com
“Research, research, research. It’s one thing to think that you have a great idea but it’s another to really know it. Make sure that what you have is a different, novel idea. Do your research and check if what you want to sell is actually going to be right for your market. Understand what people want, what else is going on in your area and try to know your market inside out before getting started.”
Antonia Chitty of aceinspire.com
“Get your communications strategy sorted. With social media freely available the temptation is to ‘Sell, sell, sell!’ Instead look at twitter, Facebook and your blog as places to showcase what you and your business do brilliantly and raise your profile as an expert provider. Once people know that you provide information they can trust, they will be keen to sign up to your mailing list, and that’s where your sales will take place.”
Ron Culp of culpwrit.com
“Network. Network. Network. It’s never too early to start. I attended a networking session last month hosted by Roosevelt University (Chicago) for high-school entrepreneurs. They were impressive in their networking skills, including eye contact, firm handshake and making relevant small talk. “
Alastair McKenzie of travel-lists.co.uk
“Start with a niche. It’s way easier than it used to be because these days you can exploit the ‘long tail’. So, specialise in doing or selling just one thing – swimming holidays for paraplegics, donkey trekking in the Urals – and do it really, really well.”
Alison Green of askamanager.org
“Be credible. Don’t keep secrets or hide your biases. If you have an irrational dislike of an idea or a person, admit that it may be colouring your judgment. Be vigilant about putting all the facts on the table, so that you’re colleagues never have to wonder if there’s something you’re not sharing.” – Alison Green
Seth Godin of sethgodin.typepad.com
“Start. Don’t keep planning, just start. Start small if you can. But now.”
Derek Sivers of sivers.org
“When you contact people, no matter how it’s done (phone, email, mail, face-to-face) – show a little spunk. Stand apart from the crowd.
If it sounds like they have a moment and aren’t in a major rush, entertain them a bit. Ask about their day and expect a real answer. Talk about something non-business for a minute or two.
Or – if they sound hectic, skip the “how are you”, skip the long introduction, ask your damn question and move out of the way.”
Jared O’Toole of under30ceo.com
“Never be the smartest person in the room. There are thousands of people out there who have done it all before and can provide you with valuable advice and information. No matter what stage of your business you should surround yourself with people better than you.”
Rob Brown pr-media-blog.co.uk
“With the advent of the social web so much is discoverable and verifiable. You should make every effort to publicise your successes and shout about your achievements but never over-claim because we live in an increasingly transparent world and exaggeration will undermine your credibility and potentially your future success.”
Thanks again to all those that took part. If I missed you off the list and you’d like to share your top tip for young entrepreneurs – please do so below!