When is it the ‘right time’ to start a business?
Looking back at when I was thinking about launching my own recruitment business, there were a lot of fears and concerns playing on my mind. The UK was still recovering from the recession, my fourth child was on the way, I’d just moved to a bigger house – with a bigger mortgage – to give my family the space it needed… I kept thinking “is now really the right time?” Starting up by myself meant walking away from a secure, well-paid job managing someone else’s company and into a world of no guarantees.
I went for it and now, more than five years after I founded Simply Commerce, we’re growing sustainably. That wasn’t always the case. Like most new businesses, our first few years were challenging and I learned some valuable lessons along the way.
Finding the ‘right time’ to launch
After talking to other entrepreneurs in the first few years of being a business owner, I realised that everyone goes through the same worries and doubts. Some start up and, when things don’t immediately click, go back into employment and wait for a ‘better time’. Some never even get that far, waiting for that ‘right time’ to come along. Here’s the reality – it never will. Life will always give you a reason to not go for it – if you’re looking for excuses. There are always going to be obstacles but, as long as you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your business, how you are going to do it, and know the sacrifices you will have to make to get there, you’re taking the proverbial plunge with your eyes open. You have a clear vision.
Build a strong foundation
A common mistake made by recruiters-turned-owners is to immediately focus on hiring salespeople with the logic that revenue-generators will soon pay their own way and make the company profitable. The reality, however, is that without a solid business infrastructure in place, these salespeople will struggle, and you’ll have spent time and money for not much in return. Two great pieces of advice I was offered when starting out were to make sure I had someone to handle company finances and to make sure I had a mentor I could call on for advice. On paper, these were both overheads to the business but the reality is that their guidance saved huge amounts of both money and time.
Know your strengths
Another tip I’d offer a new business owner is to genuinely consider what you personally can’t do and what you don’t like doing. Unless you’ve got a lot of funding behind you, you’re going to have to do everything at first, from tech support to internal recruitment to contracts administration. Having a clear plan about the tasks you want to delegate, in what order, and what you need to have achieved to make that happen will mean you are always working towards something.
Build company culture around the vision
When the time comes to expand the sales team, hire people with similar views about work ethic and how quickly they want to progress. There’s no point hiring people who want to walk if you need to run. Larger companies may be able to find ways to use people like that, but small companies simply don’t have the resources. Because of those limited resources, you can’t afford to wait and see, or give infinite chances – if someone isn’t living up to your expectations and delivering what you need, don’t put off action and hope the situation will resolve by itself. Offer help and support to those who earn it. Invest in those you can influence, the individuals who understand and appreciate the opportunity you offer.
Share your vision clearly and openly with these people – it will drive you all forward. That vision then becomes the core of your company culture, something you all buy into. When a group of people are working towards common goals that suit their individual interests, everyone wins. That’s when you’ll begin to pick up the momentum to grow sustainably – to make your original vision reality.
If you have that vision, you’ve already started. Don’t wait for the right time – plan now. Act now.
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