If you have an idea for a business, don’t let it slip through your fingers
Most people think that starting a business will require sacrifices as well as money and knowledge they may not have. Entrepreneur Dasha Amrom explains why this shouldn’t put you off
How many times have you watched Dragons’ Den and wondered whether you should follow suit and set up your own business? You may have even jotted down some ideas and calculated the upfront investment your venture would entail. You felt inspired and ready to commit all your energy and free time to mapping out your business plan and marketing strategy. And then, the next morning, when you weighed up the risks and the time commitment required, your inspiration suddenly dissipated and you decided to continue with the day job, putting your business idea on the back burner.
It happened to me as well, not once, but on a number of occasions. Before setting up my first business – a language school – in the Czech Republic, I had spent months deliberating my decision and whether it was something there was genuine demand for. Mind you, I was only 19 years old then and setting up a small business in Prague at that time involved overcoming thick layers of red tape and navigating the deep sea of stifling bureaucracy.
A lot has changed since then. I moved to London, worked for three international corporations, completed an MBA and had a son. But one thing hasn’t changed – my overwhelming desire to work for myself and run my own company. So, true to myself, I recently set up my own career and business coaching consultancy – Career Coaching Ventures.
To be precise, I have been flirting with an idea of a career advisory business for the past two years. I finally decided to make it happen as I believed that, although there are a lot of companies and individuals operating in the coaching market, there is significant demand for high-quality, fast and tailored services for graduates, those unemployed or made redundant, or for companies wanting to improve the performance of their sales teams and managerial staff. But most importantly, I felt it was a good time to start a business concentrating on improving individual employability and companies’ performance as the severe recession has been taking its toll on both people and businesses in the UK.
I have come to believe that success comes down to skilfully carving out your own niche and clearly defining your target audience. Even in the most saturated of markets, there is still potential to be uncovered – you just need determination and perseverance to search for it. You will also need to get your basics right, of course, through thorough research of your market and your main competitors and making sure you have a useful product or service to offer.
From my personal experience, the main piece of advice I would give to aspiring small business owners is to be daring. There is not much point in doubting yourself, your skills and your goals. It is a sure way to stall your plans and it can prevent you from achieving your small business dreams. I would advise you to be brave and always aim forward. I have encountered a lot of obstacles and rejections on the way towards fulfilling my dream and I also learned never to give up, even in the hardest of situations.
You might ask: but what about the money? Well, there are always ways to reduce your costs. For instance, there is absolutely no need to spend a lot of money on marketing efforts if you would prefer not to. If you have enough time to dedicate to your campaign, you could always undertake DIY marketing. I have created my own website, for instance, and have acquired a lot of new skills in the process.
And finally – promote, promote, promote. Do it via all the key social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn. Grow your network of followers and fans of your business and provide them with regular food for thought in the form of blogs, expert advice, video guides. Seek out the fairs, exhibitions, conferences relevant to your business and attend, present, build connections and customer base.
I love this quote from John F Kennedy “There are risks and costs to a programme of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction”. Act on your dream and don’t let good ideas slip through your fingers due to inaction. It will be difficult at first and it may take weeks or even months to get your first customer on board but once you’ve managed, it all becomes worth it.
Dasha Amrom is managing director of Career Coaching Ventures
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