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The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Business: 5 good reasons to start your own business today


Written by Simon Geraghty.

Part 5: Good reasons to start your own business today

The New Year brings with it your resolutions for the year ahead, and if you’ve been thinking of going out on your own and starting a new business in 2012 I’ve put together 5 reasons why there’s no time like then present.

But before we get to those reasons, you may have noticed coverage of a press release from Vision-Net back in December 2011 on start ups, most of which centred on the volume of company closures and debt they have left behind.

What was also included in the press release, but not highlighted in much of the coverage, was that since 2008 there has been an average annual growth of 2,152 in the number of registered companies in Ireland. In the first 11 months of 2011 some 13,382 limited companies began trading, compared to 12,895 for the same period in 2010. Since 2008, a total of 55,539 companies have been incorporated while 46,931 companies have closed, meaning that over 8,000 remain in business. If at first you don’t succeed try and try again.

Not only have the last 3 years seen overall growth in the number of start ups, but of the companies that started to trade in 2011, 14,628 directors attached to them were involved in a business before while 23,040 other directors were setting up for the first time. There a lot of people out there with the vision, courage and energy to go out and start and the figures above do not include the numbers of businesses registered as sole private traders.

This is all occurring against the backdrop of tectonic shifts in the employment market, Sara Horowitz has written about the surge in free-lancing over the past 5 years being the Industrial Revolution of Our Time. Today, according to Sara:

 “Careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/co-working spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.

And, perhaps most surprisingly, many of them love it.”

Given the high number of failures, and certain sectors tend to predominate here, try to dip your toe in your new venture. My wife started her photography business in parallel to a 9-5 job. However, the local market trends have brought these decisions to a head for many of us. At the outset look to keep your overheads as low as possible for your sector and try not to take on heavy long term commitments for overheads such as office space or retail space.    Home offices, temporary or virtual office spaces, and pop-up shops offer leaner alternatives at the outset.

If you have started, or are thinking about starting, your own business during this recession, you are in good company if you pardon the pun, here is a list of 5 household names that started during previous global down-turns:

  1. Wikipedia – was founded in 2001 during the fall out of the dot.com bubble and the events of 9/11 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Wikipedia now has over 20 million free articles in over 282 languages.
  2. Disney – founded in 1923, during the recession of 1923-24 by Walt and Roy Disney who started the company in their garage, or as Mo Szyslak from the Simpsons might put it car hole.
  3. HP – founded in 1939, at the end of The Great Depression, by Bill Hewlett and David Packard. HP, originally focused on a wide range of electronic products for industry and agriculture, was also founded in a garage.
  4. Microsoft – founded in 1975, during the recession in 1973-75 by Bill Gates.
  5. CNN –  Cable News Network founded in 1980, during the 1980-82 recession by Ted Turner. CNN now has over 26 bureaus, more than 900 affiliated local stations, with several regional and foreign-language networks around the world.

And there’s more over here.

So here are my words of encouragement and the 5 reasons to start your business today:

  1. Put your idea into practice before somebody else does. Ideas aren’t that easy to come by, if you’ve landed on one put it into practice and avoid the death by 1,000 cuts scenario that can sometimes occur in the corporate environment. In fact, never have to play bullshit bingo again and staying with that theme the only seagull style management will be your own!
  2. You get to shape something in your own image (linked to the point above). your own DNAYou get control over all aspects company name, logo, website, pitches, networking. Where something isn’t a core strength look to partner or outsource. Surround yourself with good people, either in house or as consultants. It will be a rollercoaster but the highs far outweigh the lows and it is great to have the responsibility for your own successes.
  3. See a need, fill a need.Your idea must be needs based. I bought the film Robots for my kids a couple of years ago and Bigweld, of Bigweld Industries, credo was the above mantra. Simple and straight to the point.  You should be clearly able to describe your audience and be clear on what needs you are meeting. Some high level questions to ask yourself in advance:
      1. Are their outsourcing trends in your sector?
      2. Can you meet these needs alone or as team?
      3. Is the sector already saturated with competitors?
  4. Ride the explosion in networking opportunities both online and offline ….. Aside from lead generation and networking these groups present great opportunities to hone and refine your pitch, and even allow the idea to evolve through contact with others. A concept can become crystallised by attending these forums (foarae?).
  5. Find your voice using the plethora of free tools out there for businesses to get your message out there such as Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Word Press, Google+, Tumblr, the list grows with each passing day. Focus on the key ones that are relevant to your target audience.

So what are your next steps:

  1. Watch this to get you into the right head-space.
  2. …Now get started!