How to start a start up?

By Neil Young, written May 2020

So, how do you start a start up?

You’ve always wanted your own business; it sounds so appealing. Being your own boss, controlling your own destiny, how perfect! Well, there’s a lot of time and hard work to get to that stage. Having your own business is not for everyone.

What is the market you are going after? Is there a real gap to focus on, or are you building on a specific thought? Our opinion is you need to have a passion for what you are focusing on, the journey is tough, you need to really care. Talk to friends, colleagues anyone you can about your idea. I often find in conversation that someone usually makes a comment that gets me thinking. You need lots of these comments to really refine an idea. I find people are keen to help.

Use the internet, look at other companies in your space, and see what they do well and where you think they are disappointing their customers. You may be doing this whilst in your current job, whilst studying, etc. That’s fine, use the time (and potentially the security of having an income) to start your research.

Recently, I helped out at a careers fair. I was so impressed with students from a school in Tottenham. They were interested in setting up their own businesses in the future. They were thinking about it whilst doing their GCSEs. They were getting help from family and friends. They were trying out products, selling some in a local street market. Yes, they were earning some money, but they were more interested in the experience and how they could scale the business. You need to look to the future as well as the now.

I am always surprised how many people think companies flourish overnight. This is not usually the case. Next time you see a business that you’ve not heard of before and doing well, have a look at when they were set up. So often it was many years ago. It usually takes time.

Anyway, back to the research. You’ve got your idea, you’ve road tested it on others. My instinct then is to run some really basic financials. This does not mean you have to convince yourself you will become a millionaire overnight but it does need to show it is financially viable. It is likely the first time you do this you will either show big profits or big losses. My suggestion is both are wrong (I know this sounds harsh). You’ve probably been either too optimistic / pessimistic. Review your assumptions, be realistic. Make the numbers believable. This is a good time to have someone experienced to discuss both your idea and the numbers.

Once you’re happy the numbers are broadly viable, think about the customer proposition. Quite frequently when you have a business idea it comes from your own experience. So, think of yourself as the customer, what would you want? Try this on others, talk it through. Again, see what your competitors are doing. Why do they do it that way, why have they not adopted your approach?

At this point you have something approaching a business proposition. You have the idea, the customer offer and ideas on the financials. You are on track to start a start up!

It is rare that one person has all the skills to cover all elements of a business. You should think about what your strengths are, what do you bring to the table? What is missing? Having a network who can help is really important. It is something at Young we have taken many years to build. Road testing ideas, thinking about the branding, the financing side are all so important.

Young enjoys working with people with ideas that will enhance places where people live, stay or spend time. Our key area of expertise is property/hospitality related businesses.

Do contact us if you feel we can help with an idea – however early in the thought process you are.