For anyone with the ambition to start a business, the first decision is on THAT idea. Maybe there will be a lightbulb moment, and like many ‘accidental’ entrepreneurs, your business will be born out of the necessity to solve an everyday problem. But Plan B involves finding that one idea that’ll make you millions and one day create a business empire – sounds easy? Not at all. Many great entrepreneurs have tried out many ideas and failed several times before they hit that great idea.
Take Henry Ford for example, who went bankrupt with his first business, the Detroit Automobile Company. It was third time lucky for Henry Ford, as he nearly failed after he fell out with a partner, and again when he couldn’t afford to pay back investors.
Another great example is the great Richard Branson, who has had several hurdles including being arrested, an exploding airplane engine, and numerous cash flow issues. Now Branson owns his own island, it’s safe to say he made it work.
Nobody gets anywhere without a bit of hard work, and the most important things when starting a business can be boiled down to two significant lessons. These can be seen to have been exercised by almost every successful business leader, and are key to a prosperous venture.
Lesson 1: Know your market
Especially as a young entrepreneur, this is absolutely key to securing success in your chosen market.
When applying for funding from banks, venture capitalists or even angel investors, sounding mature and knowledgeable about what you are heading into can make the difference between coming across as a sector leader or just naïve. Even if you have the best idea in the world, if you don’t know the market, it’ll catch up with you.
So how does one go about ‘knowing’ a market? The word ‘passionate’ is overused immensely, but I feel it’s applicable here. In order to know your market, you must be passionate about your market. This means knowing the relevant news around the area, new developments in the sector, your competitors, and the future of that market.
And speaking of competitors, you’ll need to know these inside out as well – who do they work with? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What is their 5 year plan? And most importantly, how you have a competitive edge against them.
Let compare this to football – any die-hard supporter will know all the player stats, not just of their own team, but of all of them. They’ll know all potential transfer deals, match outcomes, dates and history. Ask them a question on the spot, and they’ll know the answer. That’s passionate.
Lesson 2: Determination & Hunger
Keeping on the theme of football (it may be handy to know I am clueless about football, so correct me if I’m wrong!) players fight to win their match. You can see their drive as they play, which is emphasized by the elation in their faces as they score.
It’s this determination and hunger for achievement that sets successful entrepreneurs aside from the others. Even when entrepreneurs fail, it’s the ability to pick themselves back up and work with what they do have to keep going and turn the situation around. If Thomas Edison had given up at the first wall he hit, we wouldn’t have the electric lightbulb today. Instead of stating his many attempts as a failure, he stated he knew “over 9,000 ways that an electric lightbulb will not work”.
Celebrating small wins is the key to staying positive and feeling on-top of the challenges, especially at the very beginnings of a business venture where everything may not go to plan. It’s also important to take Edison’s philosophy and see failures as a learning curve rather than a setback.
Growing your idea
Entrepreneurs are often called ‘risk-takers’, but successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks. This means informed decisions based on your market knowledge, but that take you out of your comfort zone.
To be really successful, you must push yourself to achieve bigger and better things, and set your dreams greater than your ability in order to create the necessity to grow.
There’s an ancient Chinese statement that says, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. There’s a lot to be said for choosing a cause you believe in, like The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick who firmly believed in eco-friendly products. You’ll need to find something you can live and breathe and do for a very long time. In short, find something you are passionate about.
KVA Digital is a great example of entrepreneurship as Kelly Allison had to find her niche in the male-dominated digital market.
Coming from a graphic design background, Kelly took on the challenge to set up a digital communications business. She found the way to get ahead in digital would be to become a web developer, meaning Kelly actually taught herself to code. Growing and learning with your business is the best way to stay ahead of competition and relevant to the times. In this case, this extra skill set meant Kelly could then provide a more unique service that combined her design skills with quality web development.
This shows how Kelly knew her market – that digital comms was growing as more companies saw the need for a comprehensive digital strategy, and that she had found a mismatch between the skills of designers, developers and managers.
At KVA Digital we are constantly learning and evolving, we love to problem-solve rather than admit defeat and we have huge ambitions for the business moving forwards.
This drive is essential to any entrepreneur, as the right mind-set can get you far.
At KVA, we like to do things a little differently. Our mix of creative talent and technical delivery sets us apart from the crowd and lets us provide a unique and tailored service. Get in touch to find out what we can do for your brand :-)