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3 pieces of advice for a first-time entrepreneur

by Max Jones / Monday 26th June 2017


Whether you’re starting your first online marketing agency, or starting your first recruitment business; generally speaking, what will stop you from succeeding in the vain that you aspire to will not be the lack of knowledge you have, industry focus or command over the sector – but instead the professional and personal challenges that come with being an entrepreneur.

Although many might think they want to be entrepreneur, thinking and doing are drastically different. So before you embark on what will be the most enjoyable but challenging event in your professional career to date, have a look at some of this advice when it comes to being a “first-timer” in the game of Entrepreneurship.

Understanding capital

I’m sure you all know of an individual, either in your personal life or professional career, who took the leap of faith and start their own business, only to find themselves working for someone else within the next 12 months. The common reason for this is “cash flow”.

One of the challenges of Entrepreneurship, right from the get go, is the appreciation that not only do you have to focus on the future financial needs of the company but also you need to focus on the present capital demands of your agency in order to successful plan for the future. I know it sounds simplistic, it’s simplistic to suggest that you need to focus on the present and not on the future, but one of the most common stumbling blocks of first-time entrepreneurs is that they focus too much on the end game and don’t focus on making that little profit in the beginning that can then be used as a spring-board in the future.

Generally speaking, when we talk about the mistakes around capital, one of two things tend to happen:

They don’t have the correct funding to help their business succeed. Whether that be the “seed” capital needed to invest in the company short term, or whether that be the personal capital needed to “keep the food on the table” in the opening months of starting up. Without that prior planning, the opening months are filled with more anxiety than action and therefore the strain tends to become too much for the individual and unfortunately, the venture fails.

Alternatively, they have too much funding that they don’t utilise the opening months in the most effective ways for their business. The initial “seed” capital is too much that they become comfortable, therefore taking their focus off the business and not really committing to making any profitable gain in their agency.

They under-estimate the commitment required

Any individual, serious about starting their own business, understands the commitment required to really succeed as an Entrepreneur.

This commitment must be in line with the ambitions you have for your own agency; of course, I am not suggesting that an individual whose ambition is to have a better work/life balance and therefore spend more time with their family, needs to commit 18 hours a day in the first year to growing their agency. In that respect, the commitment required is the discipline to separate the personal and professional commitments during any given day.

However, if the ambition of a recruiter is to grow an agency; both grow a team around them and develop an agency of equitable value – then the commitment required is obviously different.

But whatever the ambition, whatever the goal, whatever the desire is when you’re looking to start your own business; you need to appreciate the physical time that will take and be ready for that commitment.

Inner Discipline

One of the most powerful forces we possess is discipline. Discipline is everywhere in line and no more prominent than in your own business. In your own business, there’s no one to answer to; no KPIs and no weekly management meetings. The discipline comes from you and from you alone.

What I mean by that, is the commitment to yourself. What you say you’re going to do and what you actually do need to always be in line with one another. If you commit to X by Friday, then I don’t care what happens – you deliver X by Friday. If you make a commitment, no matter what “it” is, no matter what curveballs are thrown at you and no matter what “comes up”, you have the discipline to deliver what you said you would. Whether that be to a candidate, a client or just to yourself. If you let your standards slip, because really “who would know”, you’re putting the status of your agency and yourself at risk.