6 Golden Rules for anyone starting a business

Several years ago I wrote an article for a business magazine giving my '6 Golden Rules' for anyone starting a business. As a result of the article I received many positive comments from the magazine's readers. So I thought it would be worth reproducing the article again here. Some of this advice might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but trust me - it works.

RULE 1 - Get everything ready before you give up your job

Sort out all the boring stuff before you give up your day job; your business will then be able to hit the ground running right from day one. Before I had even handed in my resignation letter, I had sorted out office space and also arranged limited company status, an accountant, business banking, insurance, a website, publicity materials, business cards… in fact everything needed to start trading immediately. So, within 24 hours of giving up my day job, I was quite literally sat in the office working on a large project for our first client, rather than wasting valuable time getting things organised.

RULE 2 - Make sacrifices in order to start your business

It’s essential that you make sacrifices because it will spur you on to succeed. I was previously working in a well paid senior marketing role and living in a detached house in a nice area. But in order to start my company, I gave up a good salary, sold my house and moved into a tiny terraced house in the inner city so that I wouldn't have a big mortgage to worry about. When you have made a sacrifice like this, it forces you to do absolutely everything necessary to make your business a success.

RULE 3 - Marketing is an investment, not an expense

In our first year we spent eight thousand pounds on producing publicity materials and doing mailings to thousands of potential clients. It seemed like a lot of money at the time, but it paid for itself several times over when we won our first big contract for a large West Yorkshire council.

RULE 4 - Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but always make sure you learn from them

Starting-up a new business, especially in the present climate, is definitely not for the faint-hearted. You have got to be prepared to take risks and potentially make expensive mistakes. With careful planning and research you can minimise the risks, but it is inevitable that you will still make some mistakes. I have made plenty of mistakes myself over the last 10 years, but I have always learnt from them. I now accept that failure is just a minor detour on the long and winding road to success.

RULE 5 - Think of other similar companies as opportunities, not threats

People get very hung-up about beating the competition. However, it’s more constructive to look for ways you can work together and help each other. Our company works with several similar businesses on joint projects - and we all benefit from the mutual relationship.

RULE 6 - Don’t let the b*ggers grind you down!

There will be lots of people who want you to fail because they are jealous of your courage in starting a business. Worse still, you will come across people who make you feel small by pretending they are more successful than they really are. You can end up feeling very insecure if you constantly compare yourself to other people. In the early days of running my company I found myself in this position. But then I started doing a bit of business ‘detective’ work and discovered that I was actually doing a lot better than virtually all of these people who were pretending to be so successful. So just relax, stay positive and always believe in your own abilities. You’re almost certainly doing better than what you think you are!

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