From Matt Ovenden, founder Borrow A Boat.
As I’m sure you’re already aware, becoming an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted; becoming a successful entrepreneur, even more so. Luckily enough, whether you’re just starting out or looking for that boost to take your achievements to the next level, the advice of our successful peers is available and invaluable.
Matt Ovenden, CEO of the sharing economy’s latest shining example, Borrow A Boat, gives us the advice he’s garnered from his experiences as a successful entrepreneur. Matt is the man to listen to as well, as Borrow A Boat has just completed a round of crowdfunding that raised 238% of its target.
- Believe it. I would suggest always looking for a business with meaning, a purpose that you believe in, or just a personal connection of some sort. You’ll naturally care more about the company, and your passions will fire up in the face of challenges. It’s not rocket-science, but that kind of real, genuine enthusiasm isn’t easy to fake. It makes your business easier to talk about, wins you customers, gets your investors on board, and most importantly, helps carry you through the potentially bumpy ride.
- Do your research. Once you’ve got an idea and think that you’re on to a winner, research it. You need to bounce that idea off of everyone and anyone you can get your hands on, study your competitors meticulously, scrutinise the market, read around the topic, learn from alternative categories, study related trends, do detailed analysis… Then and only then is it time to stop, reflect and conclude. If all your research (and gut-feelings) still point towards going for it then, regardless if the timing is bad or there are various obstacles in the way, you must find any way you can to do it, and do what’s needed to make it happen.
- Get it out there. Even if it feels too early (even if it is too early!), take your idea to market as soon as you possibly can, and then start getting feedback even earlier. There is absolutely nothing better for developing a project than hearing what real customers think. Before you embark down a particular route, before you implement a plan, before you design or build a big website (for example), get that feedback. The sooner you’re in the market, listening, learning and adapting your plans or products to the current climate, the better.
- Dream big and aim high. Don’t let any illogical conservatism or comfort zone-inclined urges reign-in your plans – there is absolutely nothing that could justify this. Instead, look for the most scalable ideas and think, and plan, and plan, and plan for as big as they could possibly go. All kinds of fantastic ideas are out there, but not all of them are scalable. First, try and find the most scalable idea, then envisage how big it could possibly go in your wildest dreams, then set your sights and aim for that. Eventually, even if it doesn’t quite reach the absolute highest of the highs but makes it somewhere, the chances are you’ll probably still be doing alright!
- Consider crowdfunding. As our recent success can testify, crowdfunding really does have several invaluable benefits, some of which might not be immediately apparent. Firstly, it can raise investment very fast, in thirty days usually, which is much faster than a conventional investment deal as it gets tangled up with teams of lawyers, endless meetings and diary wrangling. Crowdfunding can also drive your business; if you link benefits for investors to investing, then suddenly you can turn your investors into your customers, and your customers into your investors. Then you turn around after just over a month and find yourself finishing a funding round with a book full of sales to slingshot you into the next year of trading.
Borrow A Boat (www.borrowaboat.com) is the first company in the UK that lets its customers charter private boats directly. A little like Airbnb for boats, their web-platform provides a customised service for those looking for boating experiences. And with such a huge range of more than 13,500 boats in hundreds of locations, across 63 countries, there’s something for everyone.
About Matt Ovenden and Borrow A Boat
Matt Ovenden is founder of Borrow a Boat, the definitive marketplace for boat charter worldwide featuring peer-to-peer listings. Setup in 2016 by boat enthusiasts, it is currently listing over 13,000 boats in around 32 countries.
Borrow a Boat’s mission is to open up boating and make it more accessible and easier to access for the masses, by bringing more choice of boat and variety of locations to the charter market, as well as better value charters and ease of booking and going boating. Simultaneously Borrow a Boat wants to help boat owners reduce the cost of boat ownership, by giving them the platform to list and charter their boats.