Running or starting up a business isn’t easy. Here Ali Golds, Managing Director and Founder of Operation Enterprise and The Juno Project, discusses the difficulties & challenges of starting your own company and her own tips!
I love running my own business. There is nothing quite like it. I love that I have taken nothing and made something. I have only myself to thank for what I have achieved, and only myself to blame if it all goes wrong. I write my future.
But it’s not easy. I’ll be very honest and straight up about that. No pretence and no overlooking of the facts. I wouldn’t want anyone reading this to think that running a business is a walk in the park. It isn’t. However, with some support and guidance – and a solid business plan – it is certainly achievable.
The biggest concern when in the pre start-up stage of a business was always cash flow. How I would make ends meet?
In my experience, that’s the easier of the cash flow problems to overcome. There are many ways that you can find money without having to resort to loans. You don’t have to fall for the glossy marketing of organisations that are desperate to sign you up and effectively get you into debt before you’ve even had a chance to assess in the cold, hard, light of day whether the business will actually succeed. You can be totally and utterly 100% self-funded with a little resourcefulness and a lot of creative thinking. It’s not, by any means, impossible. Believe me, I’ve done it. Five times! And I’ve advised others who have gone on to do it themselves too.
Be sure that you have a pipeline of monies in stretching far ahead, not just for the next week or two. That’s the bit that takes a large part of your work early on and, once you have the structures and processes in place, careful monitoring to ensure that it doesn’t start to fall apart. Building on your successes and developing regular revenue streams.
You should go into starting up your business with your eyes firmly open. There is a chance your business won’t succeed. That you may have to go back to the drawing board and start again.
In the UK we have an aversion to the word fail. We see it as a bad thing. As an indictment of our abilities and ourselves. Me? I see it as a platform of growth. We can’t achieve if we don’t get things wrong. We can’t move forwards, onwards and upwards if we don’t occasionally fall over. The key is to learn how to dust yourself off, get back up, learn from your previous mistakes and try again!
I am a believer in the fact that anyone can do anything they put their mind to. It doesn’t matter what it is, or who it is, it can be done.
There is evidence to suggest that many of our most talented artists, writers and musicians were written off very early on but they dug deep, found the fortitude they needed and pursued their passions.
Often, those of us who are the most talented are the most belittled.
In my experience of working with student entrepreneurs, the ones who have bags of natural entrepreneurial talent are the ones who have various learning differences, or have dropped out of education because it just didn’t suit them. It wasn’t what fired them up. It wasn’t what they wanted to do.
Education seems to be more about fitting all pegs, square or otherwise, into round holes rather than delivering what employers, and the real world, really wants. It’s widely acknowledged and who knows when it will change. It puts young people off from learning more, and those who have struggled for whatever reason tend to take on board the, often off the cuff and unintended, negative comments from those in positions of authority who should know better. Those who should use their position to enthuse and empower not disenfranchise.
Internal barriers are the biggest barrier to overcome. The external stuff is often easily solved and, even though some of it takes a while, it can eventually be overcome. The internal stuff is trickier. It takes perseverance, determination and courage. It often means going out of your comfort zone, and doing things – believing things – you might otherwise never do. But it’s worth it. The payback is worth it. Your future is worth it!