If the past year has got you wondering how to build your own successful business, you’re in the right place.
Sage has partnered with VICE to help you work out when to take your side hustle full time by sharing the stories of small business owners and enlisting the help of three business experts offering up some excellent advice.
We’ve caught up with some of them to offer some practical guidance and learnings from past experiences in building business success.
Here’s what we cover:
Joel Blake: “Validate your idea and work out how you’ll measure success”
Joel Blake is the founder and CEO of award-winning fintech company GFA Exchange.
He’s shared some practical and strategic guidance to help you start out on the right foot and keep the pace.
Before starting, ask yourself one question
Before you start marketing, investing in websites, building teams and trying to raise investments, put all that to one side and ask yourself one simple question:
“Have you validated the need for your product or service with your prospective customer market?”
Until they tell you that what you want to provide solves the need they’d be willing to pay for repeatedly, all you’ve got is a very expensive hobby.
Think about the team
Do you really need 100 people now?
Or do you need enough people to get you to the next level, so you can invest heavily in the team for growth and scale?
This is crucial to note as every additional team member brings the need for more costs, more time, and more need for processes and systems in your organisation, which add weight to your business.
How will you measure your success?
Measuring your success is really important. Often, we do this by cash flow and profitability.
However, what are the things you’re doing in your business that are working towards this?
Have a think about what you’re tracking on a daily/weekly/monthly/annual basis.
Make changes for the future
In terms of future growth, make sure you’re adaptable to the changing needs of your customer and target market, and make sure you’re aligning your resources with that change.
Consider the value and pace of your work
Think about pace and value.
You want to create great value that enables your business to grow at a fast pace. As long as you’re delivering great value, pace will come.
Check out more VICE x Sage articles that will help you on your journey to launch a business:
Carl Reader: “Use the dream, plan, do, review model”
Next up, Carl Reader, a serial entrepreneur, speaker and chairman of business advisory firm D&T, shares what he’s learnt from his vast experience.
Carl has a very simple model – the dream, plan, do, review model.
It’s an incredibly effective way of summarising what you need to do to take a business from an idea to something that works for you day after day.
Surround yourself with a fantastic team
You don’t necessarily need to pay for this at the outset. These could be friends, colleagues or advisers. But make sure you’ve got the right tribe behind you.
Get a review process in place
Make sure you’ve got a process for reviewing what you do and trying to identify what works and what doesn’t work.
Before you start scaling, make sure you take advice from the people that have been there before you and that you set the foundations in place.
It’s corny saying it but you can tell the height of the building by the depth of the foundations.
Bobby Lane: “Do your homework and think about the money”
Finally, we chatted to Bobby Lane, CEO of Factotum, who shared his keys to business success, as a founder himself.
First up – plan and do your homework.
Make sure the business is going to work and that your product/service is needed.
It’s all very well having a great idea but if it’s not needed, it’s not going to go anywhere.
Then, it’s time to consider the next steps for your business. This can involve a lot of questions, which can be a lot to handle.
Bobby shares his thoughts to guide you through these…
Building a team
Surround yourself with the right team. People who are incredibly talented, bright and who have different skill sets to you.
You’re looking for people at different levels who can really help you build that business, matching the vision you have.
To measure the success of your business it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Is it growth?
Is it profit?
Some people are just looking for a new way of working or a better work life and finding that balance.
Success is very tied to what you’re looking for in your business.
Planning for future growth
To plan for future growth, you really need to do just that: plan.
You need to have something that you stick to while surrounding yourself with advisers that can help you every step of the way.
Think about the money
When scaling up, you need to think about cash. Cash is king – and more so now than ever.
You need to make sure you have the cash reserves there to drive the business forward. Sometimes you may have to take a step backwards to move your business forwards.
Businesses won’t grow overnight
Businesses don’t go in a straight line – and there will be a lot of challenges ahead.
You need to be prepared to pivot, move and see what you can do as things change.
Do what you love, love what you do…
It’s all about you being in love with what you do. You have to fall in love with what you’re doing.
Look at the difference in someone when they’re talking about their passion – they light up. By doing something you love, you’ll create more opportunities for yourself, often with more ease.
Without the passion, energy, commitment and drive, sometimes a great idea may not be enough.