For some, having a light-bulb moment and turning that idea into reality comes naturally, while for others, it’s a challenging process littered with setbacks and in many cases, failure. Despite this, many entrepreneurs retain their passion for creating a new business or service and persevere until they achieve their goal.
Figures show there were 14% more tech startups in 2018 in the UK than the previous year, while the number of small businesses operating across the country expanded by 3.5%. Given the political uncertainty that dominated much of 2019, it will be interesting to see if that growth continued into 2019.
However, if you’re an entrepreneur considering your first venture or a seasoned professional ready for the next challenge, there are several details to consider to help ensure 2020 and beyond is successful for you and your new business.
Success often emerges during times of high stress or change
Now the UK is moving forward with Brexit, change is inevitable. Of course, this brings challenges for existing businesses and industries for whom the status quo has changed little over recent years. On the other hand, it’s worth bearing in mind that in the past, times of upheaval and even recession have paved the way for innovative businesses to be able to deliver on their new ideas. This startup success often happens at a time when established companies might be struggling with problems thrown up by that recession or economic or industry-related interruption.
Burger King is just one example of a highly successful business that began trading during a tough time – in the 1954 US recession. Its success was due to several details, with one of them being cost-based. Recessions are lean periods for businesses and consumers, but if you can find the right product or service that customers need, want and can afford, then that’s an excellent place to start.
Of course, it’s not just a recession that can be a tough period for businesses and their customers. Crisis in countries that supply certain elements that are essential to a product can prove difficult for some companies to overcome, at least in the short-term. Meanwhile, if there are wholesale changes to rules and regulations that govern an industry, this can also prove a significant problem.
As an entrepreneur, it is essential to create a product or service that consumers can rely on, afford and most importantly, that solves a problem that no other product or service does, or is an improvement on an existing option. Times of change shouldn’t stop entrepreneurs from moving ahead with a new idea. It can be the perfect time to get your product, service or business up and running to attract consumers, many of whom are possibly searching for an alternative option.
Use the support and tools that are available
With small businesses making up 99.3% of all UK businesses, entrepreneurs are valuable to the economy. That’s why the UK Government, along with numerous private-sector companies, promote funds, support, and advice for those who are ready to push ahead with their new business idea.
Right now, if you’re a female entrepreneur, then you might find there are some programmes and funds ready-and-waiting for your big idea. Investment Bank Goldman Sachs has created Launch with GS with three key details:
- To invest in women-led companies.
- To back women-centred investment managers by investing in client capital across venture capital, growth equity, and private equity strategies.
- To build a community of entrepreneurs, investors and other business leaders.
One reason behind the creation of Launch with GS, are the results of a recent report it produced, in conjunction with others. According to ‘All In Women in the VC Ecosystem’, startups founded and co-founded by women generate on average 10% more in revenue growth over a cumulative five-year period. Goldman Sachs also found that businesses created by women are often sold by the founders more quickly than those produced by male entrepreneurs. That’s a big plus for investors who want to realise the return-on-investment more quickly.
The UK Government also has a useful resource for startups to gain finance, grants, advice, support and a multitude of other details that entrepreneurs of all ages might need as they work to begin a new business. This advice is available on the gov.uk website.
Choose your industry wisely
For some entrepreneurs, an idea comes from nowhere that has all the hallmarks of being the perfect new business and requires less effort than you might think, to get it off the ground. However, for most, that’s not the case. Instead, an entrepreneur might need to identify a particular industry that’s young with room for diversification, or is old and ripe for disruption.
Whichever option you choose, it’s essential to consider that your startup can offer a sustainable new product or service, or improve upon existing competitors within that industry for the medium-to-long-term.
One industry that immediately springs to mind is the eco-friendly industry. Science tells us that if we don’t change many of our ways, the things we desire and use will destroy some essential parts of our ecosystem. Or, some things will simply expire and become unavailable.
Single-use plastics, energy consumption, and sustainable green alternatives are all areas that are ripe for innovation – providing the right idea is pursued by an entrepreneur who understands the issues, needs, and goals.
Of course, this isn’t the right industry for everyone, and with technology continuing to develop at breakneck speed, that is also a widely-used avenue for entrepreneurs. That’s particularly the case in the UK where Fintech, Proptech, and Martech are all in high demand. This high demand comes from the army of small businesses in the country who are attempting to remain profitable and relevant at a time of change, both on a country economic and business level but also a changing consumer appetite one.
It is crucial to ensure your business idea as an entrepreneur is one that will attract the right attention for delivering something consumers need. However, if you know an industry well and have recognised a niche that doesn’t deliver, even if it’s in a saturated market, you should move forward with it.
Expertise can fulfil innovation that well-established businesses have missed. Or, because it may target only a small market, it could be that those larger companies don’t consider that niche profitable enough for the research and development and subsequent investment it requires. Exploiting the market in this way is a situation where bold entrepreneurs can reap success more quickly than even they expect.
Have a plan but be agile
Research and planning remain essential ingredients for any successful entrepreneur. However, while using that research to create the right plan is necessary, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and unexpected obstacles is also useful to help get your business idea off the ground.
Agility in business is something that has served many companies well over the years. In particular, surveys from global companies such as ManPower Inc., in the wake of the 2008 global credit crunch highlighted that those firms who were able to think quickly and adapt to the fluctuating backdrop as required, retained more business and were also able to grow when others who struggled.
In short, this means that while your business goals will likely stay broadly unchanged, you should, at the very least be open to change in the way in which you achieve those business goals, including:
- Over what time.
- In which country.
- Your choice of materials or technology
- Fluctuating funding parameters.
Even if you have to change your plan to grow more slowly, or temporarily halt operations while you search for new suppliers, this doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Instead, take it as an opportunity to develop your resourcefulness and find a new way. After all, if your original method is unable to last through the initial phase of building your business, then it’s likely you were always going to require a different option eventually.
Just remember, having a plan is always one of the main ingredients for an entrepreneur, but without that agility and adaptability, new or unexpected developments might make it unworkable, overnight.
If you think that a new Government focused on delivering Brexit might prove a step too far for a new business launch next year, just take a look at a few success stories from the past three years. They also faced uncertainty, a weaker pound, and some increased caution amid the investor community. However, they set their goals, and with a combination of having a great idea, determination and finding the right backing, they’re now enjoying the fruits of their labour.
Fintech – Revolut
As you’d expect, entrepreneurs have identified a problem or gap in the market and then often turned to technology to find the solution. The founders of fintech startup Revolut are using developments in tech to ensure their challenger bank offering gives customers precisely what they’ve been searching for, but are yet to find. These functions include access to their own money, wherever in the world they might be, without worrying about security or high exchange rate charges.
After launching in 2015, the EU referendum bombshell result could have been a significant blow. Instead, it did not faze them and founders, former Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank investment bankers, Nik Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko are now eying further expansion from their customer base of over 4 million in Europe.
Tech/Lifestyle – Lumen
Online dating is a firmly mainstream way of meeting a new partner, but for the over 50s, it can still be a daunting process with websites that do not have the features which their demographic needs and desires. Enter founders Antoine Argouges, Match.com’s previous product manager and Head of Revenue as well as well-known dating industry expert Charly Lester, and Lumen was born.
Launched in the autumn of 2018, this new free-to-use dating app for the over 50s has a simple to use design and gives users peace-of-mind that everyone they interact with online and agree to meet are who they say they are. But it doesn’t stop there, care and thought have gone into the site with relevant resources for its target user, which includes more detailed profiles and messages along with group chat functions, as a way to help tackle loneliness in that age-group.
Eco consumer – The Cheeky Panda Ltd
Moving away from technology, The Cheeky Panda Ltd produces sustainable, plastic-free tissue products that are stocked and sold in 15 countries and across well-known UK stores and supermarkets. Their products are created entirely from 100% bamboo, which, given its fast-growing, hypoallergenic status and sustainability, makes it the perfect choice for this eco-friendly venture.
After starting up in 2016, the business is valued at £25 million, helping support the development of new products. Founded by Chris Forbes and Julie Chen, The Cheeky Panda Ltd is a disruptor business that appeals to the growing wave of eco-conscience, not only in the UK but around the world. After becoming an Amazon best-seller, the pair supported the development of even more bamboo-based products and launched 100% biodegradable baby wipes in 2018, with plans for a nappy range too.
As you can see, where there are great ideas and the determination to make it a success, great things can and do happen. New products and services help make many people’s lives more comfortable. For the entrepreneurs behind those products, customer satisfaction is often as much reward as the financial gain that typically comes along with it.
It is certainly useful to keep in mind the different areas highlighted here. However, if you have the right idea, the drive to push it forward and can work with supportive investors, then you and your new business could be in the next list of inspirational entrepreneurs and startups, to help inspire others.