Every day somewhere in the world, there are business ideas, big and small, being conceived, incubated and acted upon. Some fizzle away as too hard, or too expensive, but others stick in your mind and just won’t go away no matter how hard you try.
That was the position that my wife and I found ourselves in a little over 12 months ago. No matter how hard we tried, Allure Limousines, the business that we are now in, was the idea that just wouldn’t go away. So, with no idea what we were actually doing, but knowing that this was wholeheartedly what we wanted to do, we started to build our dreams piece by piece and little by little to where we are currently.
Looking back at our journey thus far got me to thinking – what advice I would give myself, or anyone else, starting out for the first time?
I came up with the following –
1. Your first idea is not always your best
In the two years that we were considering starting our business, my wife and I looked at the financial viability of a number of different businesses and industries. Some were on a whim (and I love my gorgeous wife for entertaining my flights of fancy that involved spur of the moment midnight trips to China……… and no I am not joking at all) and some were well thought out and long dreamed of passions that could have sent us bankrupt had we pursued them any further. As we did, you need to find the right level of personal comfort in a business and trust your gut with any decisions that you need to make.
2. Look for ‘stepping stones’ to get you to where you want to go
When starting out you may not be able to afford to get where you want to go immediately, so be on the lookout for associated ‘stepping stones’ that will assist you, but never lose sight of the end goal. Who knows what doors may open in the future from the decisions that you make today? Be open to all possibilities and consider that the journey will be just as fun as the final destination.
3. Dream big ……….. but start small
One of the easy traps to fall into when you’re doing your market/industry research is to look at your competitors in the marketplace and think “they’re all too big, I won’t stand a chance”, or alternatively you will be tempted to think that you need to start a business that is as big, if not bigger than your competitors, just to compete. Always remember that they too had to start somewhere – and whilst they are bigger and perceivably better, they were once in the position that you are in now. I was once told that a business that isn’t growing is going backwards. Start small but don’t stand still – always push for growth.
4. Find suppliers that you trust
Trust is one of the most important things that you can have in a supplier/client relationship.
Find suppliers that are not only knowledgeable, and experts in their field, but ones that you have an immediate rapport with. They need to be able to tell you when you are heading in the wrong direction and suggest a more suitable path – or at least present you with your options, for you to make an informed decision. Suppliers must be able to deliver what they promise and it takes trust initially for the relationship to work.
5. Build your brand
It doesn’t matter what business or industry that you’re in, but the ‘brand’ (or culture) of your business needs to be something that you live and breathe every day. When I talk about your ‘brand’ I am not necessarily referring to your logo, website or other marketing material, I am more referring to the way that business is done in your particular business. Your ‘brand’ needs to become “just the way that things are done around here” to create a consistent and positive customer experience each and every time that they deal with your company.
Whilst there are no hard a fast rules to building a successful business, what I have proven to myself so far is that your internal voice must be listened to above all of the other external noise that is created during this process. People will want to have their say about whether or not you are doing the right thing or following the right path, and whilst you should be open and willing to accept advice and guidance, no one else can hear that voice in your head saying that it’s right or wrong.
Trust your inner voice – build your dreams.