Most people in business start with adept technical skills, but have less knowledge about being a successful entrepreneur, says Ed Percival of Shirlaws Binfield, an expert in helping business people grow their companies.
“The UK has 4.8 million small to medium sized businesses creating a massive 60% of our private sector jobs. Yet we are living in times that may be looked back on as the second depression where we’ve seen the exodus of far too many businesses, where they’ve gone into liquidation or bankruptcy. Many people are starting a business, after losing their jobs or refocusing their goals.
“In amongst the many people who have started a business after losing their jobs or refocusing their goals, it is easy to see some entrepreneurs creating bigger and more profitable businesses and providing greater opportunities for customers, staff and shareholders. What do they do, what are their processes, what opportunities do they find?
“The good news is that the skills can be learned. The most important step in the process is getting the entrepreneur mindset,” says Percival. “Get that right, and the game becomes a process, where you understand forthcoming obstacles and how to work around them. You start finding ways to maximise opportunities, and, importantly, to have a balance between work and life outside of business.
“It’s about opening up your mind from doing a full-on job, to being an entrepreneur, and we all know the world needs more of those than at any time before.”
In the Ten Entrepreneurial Commandments thou shalt:
1. Change the way you label yourself. No longer are you the technical specialist in your profession. You are an entrepreneur. This creates an opening to expand on your story, to walk the talk. The British can have trouble with this they don’t want to sound puffed up, so if you find it uncomfortable, find a label that is acceptable and authentic.
2. Change your relationship with money. If you spend first and then save what you can, you’re a spender. If you save first, then spend what’s left over, you’re a saver - not because they are mutually exclusive but because of your first action. Become a saver first, then a spender. You simply won’t create wealth if you’re a spender.
3. Lose your attachment to time when it comes to setting business goals. Fulfil goals at your pace; things have a way of happening a lot quicker that way. Just be clear about your direction and what you’re trying to achieve.
4. Define your level of risk as a basis for future business decisions between zero and nine, zero being the sort of person to leave money under a mattress and nine as someone who’d be happy to invest in Libyan security companies. This is an especially important point to agree up front with a business or life partner. Defining a comfortable level of risk makes it easier to be consistent in the future.
5. Understand that as an entrepreneur you will go through different emotional cycles, which can affect business outcomes and people around you. Learn about these so the next obstacle and emotion don’t take you by surprise.
6. Start a business, in small steps if at all possible, before you take a big leap. If you’re a baker, make cakes and sell them at a fair on a weekend. If they cost £20 to make, and you sell them for £30, keep the profit and use it to make a bigger batch next time. Bear in mind this is the most exciting and frightening commandment, especially for those who have been ‘guaranteed’ a wage previously.
7. Set up a savings account – later on, when you have a string of businesses, this will turn into a holding company that looks after corporate assets. As an aside, as your businesses get bigger, hire the right advisors to suit the size of your business.
8. Always put a percentage of your profit in your savings account, and, later, into your holding company so it gets bigger and bigger. It’s a key discipline that fuels your ability to invest in future businesses. Duncan Bannatyne (Dragon’s Den entrepreneur – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan_Bannatyne) ran care homes. He asked his architect to create a building that saved him money and gave the architect 50% of the savings on that building. Cleverly, it enabled Bannatyne to make savings on every care home after that which was a way of increasing the savings in his holding company.
9. Invest from your holding company – this gets you to consider risk and actions carefully. It is likely that you’ll need to invest into your first business and it also gives you a pot of money for other ventures.
10. Define your business DNA for future companies and investments. Some entrepreneurs, when the first idea works, follow their noses and create a new business off at a tangent and then wonder why it doesn’t have the same success. The Virgin Group have perfected the DNA process; they encourage businesses to contact them if they fit a strict Virgin criteria (virgin.com/entrepreneur/got-a-big-idea). If you’re intent on being a highly successful entrepreneur, make sure you know the DNA of your first company and apply it to every single one afterwards.
About Shirlaws Binfield
Shirlaws (growyoursme.com), based in Binfield, Berkshire, is a unique business coaching offering within the global Shirlaws business. Unique in that this team was founded by an SME owner who successfully implemented the Shirlaws IP to his own business and created a £multi-million management consultancy that now operates globally. In 2010 this business won SME Business of the Year and was announced in 2011 a nominee for European Business of the Year.
The success of the Shirlaws product within his business compelled him to create a team to bring the same success to other SME owners. These coaches have been handpicked with the right mix of business experience, knowledge of the Shirlaws product set and a value set based on creating value in your business.
The success of the Shirlaws Binfield /entrepreneurial relationship is not just the coaching, but the ability to tap in to an eco-system of business referrals, networks of business owners and possible corporate relationships. This is not just business coaching, but a complete change in the way a business operates.
More profit, less strain and more fun, it's the way owning a business should be.