Just starting out on your journey as an entrepreneur? It can be a daunting prospect.  First Enterprise share some words of encouragement and wisdom.

You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to get started 

But you will need to have a good understanding of finances and how to manage them. You may not need a huge amount of money, but you will need to consider finances at the planning stage to ensure that the business is not underfunded and there will be no pressure on cash flow. ‘I had financial support’ should not be a phrase you are afraid of admitting, this year 25,000 new businesses have been supported by the Government’s Start Up Loans alone and we have given more than £8 million to growing businesses through our loan streams.

Not ready to make the leap to entrepreneur – be an ‘Intrapreneur’ first

If you are toying with the idea of running your own business but are not quite ready to run the entire show, some insightful employees are putting their creative juices to use in their current roles as internal entrepreneurs. It is a great stepping stone to making the leap to owning your own business and is a win/win situation for both employees and employers. You can help to challenge and change things from the inside out.

Follow your dream – no matter how crazy

Richard Branson said that ‘if a dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough’. Believe in yourself and others will follow. We see hundreds of wannabe entrepreneurs come to us for help – they are all afraid of not making their business a success, but what they fear more than failure is not having tried in the first place, and this is what sets our applicants apart. We want to continue to encourage more entrepreneurs to come to us with their big ideas and to keep saying yes to giving them a foot on the business ladder.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Make sure you get some really good advice and listen to it. It is the life and soul of what we do at First Enterprise Business Agency. Even if the response you get from advisors is critical, it is vital you take it on-board.  Planning is very important, a written down business plan is not only useful for future reference but will bring up lots of questions during the early planning stages of your business.

Know your market and do your research 

Understanding your competitors and USP is important. Spending your time researching doesn’t have to be boring, brainstorming and constantly coming up with creative ideas is just as important. Make decisions based upon your research and not your emotions.

Put yourself out there 

Networking and the ability to get on with people is hugely beneficial – don’t expect people to come to you. Putting your name out there as much as possible in the early days is very important. Invite likeminded people and those that could benefit your business to join you for a networking lunch/drink or play on their interests and get their time that way. My other piece of advice is to make sure you really work at local PR, even if it’s just a presence at a local community event or helping to fundraise – preach to your local publication because it will massively help to get the word out.

If you do get instant results, learn how to progress from there

Don’t get frustrated or assume that you will get instant results. However if you are lucky enough to do so, be clear about what it is that has attracted customers to your business and capture it. It can be an easy trap for many start-up businesses to forget what it was that made the business a success in the first place. It is all part of growing pains but my advice would be to keep your principles and treat them as the Holy Grail. Do not take your success for granted, those principles are what your customers love about you so don’t forget them.

Go digital

Embrace all things digital and social media – make it as easy as possible for people to find you. But if you commit to setting up accounts across the social online sphere, make sure you keep it active. This “free” marketing tool carries risks as well as opportunities; there is a cost in terms of your time and you’ll need to manage your online reputation carefully.

By First Enterprise

As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) based in Hyson Green but serving the entire East Midlands, First Enterprise is a not for profit organisation providing loans and free business advice to start-ups and existing businesses from all backgrounds and sectors right across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.