If you’ve always wanted to be your own boss and run your own business, you’re in the right place! I’ve built my career by starting, growing, failing and succeeding at so many different businesses, so I know what it takes to make it – and what mistakes to try and avoid on the way.
When it comes to funding, I recently prepped Gillian Robson and Katy Foxcroft before their successful appearance on Dragons’ Den! They secured a £75k investment for 25% of their Tancream business from Touker Suleyman and Sara Davies and their business is going from strength to strength. So, what advice did I give them? Check out the full interview here…
Obviously, every business idea is different, but there are some general rules to stick to which will help get your big business idea from concept to financial success!
Focus on your idea!
Firstly, you need to have an idea! Sounds easy, right? If you’ve read this far, you might already have a great idea for your business, but if not, don’t worry.
The good news is that there’s really no such thing as a new idea in today’s world. We have all been around far too long and coming up with something totally new is almost impossible – and not actually necessary for huge financial success! Some of the most successful businesses around have come from taking someone else’s idea and making it better or repackaging it. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – just take a look at what other people in your marketplace are doing, and work out how you can do something similar, but better.
Flesh out your idea
If you’re starting a business, you’re going to need more than just the seed of an idea. You need to take it to the next level, and get into the nuts and bolts of what problem your idea is going to solve. That’s all business is really – solving problems for money.
So here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself…
Know your audience (and where they can be found)
One of the reasons lots of startups fail is that they haven’t properly thought about who the market is for their product or service. You have to fully understand who’s going to buy what you’re selling – and crucially, understand what’s going to motivate them to do it. If you don’t know your audience, you haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of being able to engage them! There’s no point spunking thousands of pounds on Facebook ads for your startup if the demographic you should be targeting spend all their time on Snapchat. Do the homework BEFORE you make expensive mistakes.
Break it down
Getting the big things done – like being the CEO of your thriving, successful global business empire – starts with doing lots of little things well. You have to break down the bigger goals into manageable sections, and put in the hard graft to get these ticked off.
There’s no magic formula for this, but keeping yourself accountable is a big part of it. Get a mentor, get a business partner, whatever it takes to make sure that you take action towards hitting your goals EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s not going to happen by itself!
There are a million and one things involved with starting or growing your business, but each and every one of them will require YOU to start off the process. If it’s finding a supplier – get networking. Building a marketing strategy – get planning. Working out your pricing – just fucking do it!
ACTION is the one thing that sets apart the successful entrepreneurs from the losers. Yes, planning is important – but the money is made in the execution of the ideas, not in being the perfect planner. PERFECTION PREVENTS OPPORTUNITY! I’ll tell you this from experience, not every action you take on the road to getting your business started is going to be the right one! But you’re only an idiot if you learn nothing from your failures.
No entrepreneur in the history of the world has ever founded a business without making mistakes. Don’t be afraid of it – just get going, and learn on your feet. It’s so much better to be moving forward and taking action after action instead of sitting on your idea, trying to figure out how to achieve perfection but actually doing nothing.
Talk to mentors/business partners/friends/colleagues…
The importance of having a mentor can’t be overstated. Their advice can be literally priceless and save you from making bad business decisions.
When it comes to business partners, it’s so important that you really resonate with them. To work with an investor long-term you need to click – if there’s a clash of personalities it’s just impossible. It’s like a marriage – you’re stuck with these people for the life of the business so you need to have a harmonious relationship!
Prepare like a boss before approaching someone for funding
Once you’ve got your business up and running, It’s highly likely you’ll need to approach someone for investment. I worked with Gillian and Katy in great detail before they were grilled by the Dragons because research and preparation are SO important. I asked them the sort of questions I knew they were going to be asked, and this is crucial away from the heat of the Den too!
You need to be extremely well-prepared if you’re approaching someone looking for investment. You need to be credible, passionate and knowledgeable so they can’t resist investing in you and your business! I get people approaching me for funding all the time, and so many are let down by their lack of preparation. Don’t be one of those guys!
Gillian and Katy were originally only willing to give away 10% of their business. One of the key pieces of advice I gave them was to know your bottom line. I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs on that show completely freeze. They go in with an idea of how they value their business, the Dragons have a different view of it and suddenly they’re left to make a very, very, very important decision on the fundamental future of their business in an extremely short space of time!
So it’s imperative to know what your bottom line actually is so that you are ready to come back with a response and most importantly – make a deal!
Of course, in the real world you can counter offer, bluff a bit, delay things while you think it all through – but thats not a luxury you have in the Dragon’s Den, so you need to be fully prepared!
And on that same theme, one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs and business owners make is overvaluing their businesses and therefore making themselves uninvestable. I always tell people that raising money for your business is probably the hardest thing you will ever do in business – even harder than actually running the business itself! And if you are truly an entrepreneur it is highly likely that you will have other businesses and opportunities in the future – but you need to get this one off the ground and making money first.
So don’t let greed or unrealism prevent that happening. In the grand scheme of things, and the long term success of your business and life, whether you give away (say) 20% equity or 40% equity is probably much less important than raising the money in the first place and getting the deal done.
I know that each business is different but if you follow these tips, you won’t go far wrong. I’d love to hear about your business idea and who knows, we could even end up being partners! I’m always keen to listen to ideas – speaking to enthusiastic, motivated entrepreneurs is one of the main reasons I love being in business. So if that’s you, drop me a line now!
Check out my YouTube channel for more in depth, honest chats with celebrities, social media influencers, business leaders and entrepreneurs: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0IFoR54k1EFL4otIyp3JnQ/featured
Follow @thematthaycox on Instagram & Twitter or message me on LinkedIn!