Many people try to create their own startup business.
And many people fail.
That’s because even if you have a great idea for a new business, you still might not be the right sort of person to run a business.
Funding and low-cost businesses
The cost of starting and running a business has never been lower: there are multiple ways to start a free e-commerce website, there’s crowdfunding to help you avoid banks or angel funding, and for many service businesses you might not need much more than a laptop computer and a phone to begin with.
So for most people thinking of creating and running a startup business, funding might not be the biggest barrier to success.
For those people who have a great idea and don’t have a problem finding sufficient funds, their business will still fail if they are not a “startup person”, somebody who has all the right qualities to start and grow a startup business successfully.
What are some of the qualities that successful startup owners have?
- A self-starter: The word “self-starter” is how many unimaginative people describe themselves on their CVs when applying for a job, which is ironic considering most employees are not self-starters. However, if you want to start up your own business, being a self-starter is vital.
- Don’t fear failure: Most startup businesses fail – it’s just part of the game. But what separates a real entrepreneur from the rest is the ability to manage risk rather than be terrified by it. And when they do fail – all entrepreneurs have at least some failures – they learn from it.
- Use success to find more success: A true startup person not only learns from their failures, but their successes too. It’s not good enough to take successes for granted – you need to work out what went right, what went wrong, and work out how you can find more success armed with your new knowledge.
- Learn as you go along: With more and more people studying for business degrees at university these days, it would be understandable if you thought formal education was the only way to learn about running a business. But a true entrepreneur will use whatever they have at hand to learn, whether that be from hands-on experience from running the business, or countless online sources, such as business advice blogs (like this one!).
- Take responsibility: If something goes wrong when you’re an employee, it might be easy to make excuses, and maybe blame other people for failures. When failures occur in your startup business you can try making excuses, but it’s not going to help you. A true entrepreneur realises that they are ultimately responsible for their startup business, so they know that when things go wrong it’s they who need to find a solution.
- Pragmatism: James Dyson famously spent five years designing and building 5,127 prototypes of his revolutionary bagless vacuum cleaner before it went on sale. However, for most businesses, the pursuit of perfection over all else rarely works – the business world just moves to quickly these days. You need to be pragmatic and start your business with what you have, and continue to develop while you are earning an income. In fact, many businesses (such as Apple with their yearly updates to their products) use this constant improvement to continue to sell their products.
- Focus: Not only do you, as the owner of a startup, need to remain focused, ensuring you have your priorities right and that you are keeping everything organised, the business itself needs focus. This means not trying to do too many things, trying to enter too many markets. You need to work out exactly what your business is good at and stick with it. When you’ve found success in a narrower field and grown your business, you can consider expanding into new markets.
- Implementation: Many people dream about starting their own business one day. They might for years talk incessantly to their friends about the great idea they have for a startup business. But most of these people will never actually start a business because they don’t really have the drive to implement their ideas. Turning a great idea into a profitable startup business takes lots of hard work, and most people would actually prefer to stick to the relatively easy option of remaining an employee. The drive to implement a great idea into an actual business is probably the main quality of a startup person.
So, are you a startup person?
If you’ve always dreamed of one day starting your own business, our guide should help you work out if you’re a “startup person”. If you say to yourself, yes, this sounds like me, then maybe you’re ready to turn the great idea you have into a startup business.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.