Five Tips On Starting a Business

Ashley and Nathan Griffith

Ashley and Nathan Griffith

Today I am featuring a guest post by Ashley Griffith, owner of Operation Entrepreneur, a group dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs together on a whole new level. She’s also the co-owner of eco-friendly bath and body shop The Gnarly Whale.  Read on for Ashley’s five tips on starting a business:

1. Be Confident and Passionate

If you’re not confident and passionate about your business, who will be? You absolutely must believe in your business more than anyone else for it to succeed. If you’re not confident, not all hope is lost. You just need to work out the kinks. Change your policies, switch up your products, enlist help – do whatever you need to do to make sure that you’re confident (even if you’re still learning) when you launch.

 2. Look at the Numbers

For most creative people, numbers suck. And they can take a lot of the fun out of business planning. But knowing your numbers is a huge part of knowing that you’ll be successful and profitable. Create a break-even analysis (with the help of this site, it’s easy) and ensure that everything checks out. If you find your numbers aren’t where they need to be, this will allow you to see where you may need to raise or lower prices.

 3. Create a Business Plan

Not required, but incredibly useful. If you ever need a loan for your business, you’ll need one of these. And if you ever want to hire help with your business, this is a great tool to have for someone to see your business at a quick glance. Not only that, but the business plan is a great way to keep you and your business on track to meet your goals and ensure that you’re always following your mission. The Small Business Association is a GREAT resource for assistance in creating these in the US, or the Federation of Small Businesses in the UK.

 4. Make Room for Growth

Think of ways the current products you have can change. Maybe it’s new features, different colours, or an expanded product line. No matter what, make sure that there is growth opportunity within your business. Trends come and go, so your product isn’t guaranteed to be a hit forever. Have a back-up plan for when your business may need something new to create that wow factor all over again, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

 5. Surround Yourself With Positive Reminders

Have a Pinterest board dedicated to where you want your business to be or products you’d like to someday make. Use inspiration boards in your house. Read blogs or books that are similar to your field of work. Find a group of supportive people such as those within Operation Entrepreneur. Whatever it is – surround yourself with everything you want to achieve. No matter how skilled you are, there will be tough days and your business will most likely not flourish immediately. Find things to keep you going when the going gets tough, and it will get easier.

Blog-SwapThanks for those tips, Ashley. Even though my business has been going for a while now, there are some great tips there for me to follow, too.

Making Networking Work

I am a keen networker, and have been for three years. It serves more than one purpose for me. Apart from the obvious advantage of finding new business leads, I have met and got to know other excellent local business people, I have made good  friends, and it gets me out of the office and gives me the social element that running your own business often lacks. In fact, most of our new customers over the last three years can be traced directly back to someone I originally got to know through a networking meeting.

Once you have met someone through networking, the best way to get to know them better is to have a follow-up meeting or a one-to-one, where you find out about each other’s business. I tend to meet people in a local coffee shop or for lunch. It is quite often a revelation how much you have in common, or how business ideas or possible partnerships can come from these meetings, even when you thought your business was nothing to do with the business of the person you are meeting. I also find it useful to meet people who are in the same business as myself, as we can often refer business to each other, or have extra niches of expertise that can prove very useful.

I find I am regularly asked at these one-to-one meetings which other networking meetings I go to – and what I get out of them – this gave me the idea for a couple of blog posts about the local networking meetings I do attend – to save me copying and pasting the information into countless emails!

Networking in Northampton

Synergy Networking Group – Meet at Yeoman of England, Wootton Village, Northampton 9.30am to 11.30 – usually on a Monday once a month – contact Mandy (mandy@forever-yourfuture.co.uk) for details of the next meeting.

This is a low-cost  meeting (£6 including drinks) which varies in size for 3-4 people up to 15 in the most popular months. It is an excellent first networking meeting for nervous new networkers. We sit around a table in the pub and chat and catch up – and even when the meetings are small they are excellent for getting to know other local business people.Synergy

WIBN Northampton – Women only networking – Meet at The Old White Hart, Far Cotton on the 3rd Thursday of the month – this is a ‘lock out’ group, so you can only attend if your type of business is not already represented – take a look at the website for members and contact details to book.

WIBN Northampton was my first ‘serious’ networking group – and by that I mean the first one I joined for which you need to pay an annual membership fee, although visitors are welcome.  It is more formal in format and members get to present a 1-minute talk about their business to the room, pass business cards and flyers round, and also give testimonials about work done by other members. It is a great place to take a prospective client, as if you are established in the group other members will most likely say great things about you!  You need to commit to attending every month if you join, but it is well worth it, as the connections you make can go far.WIBN

Northampton Business Breakfast (FSB) – Meet at Westone Manor Hotel, Weston Favell on the  2nd Friday of the Month from 7.15am to 9am. Visitors are welcome and pay a little more than members. email jo@office-octopus.co.uk who is the branch secretary.

There are many breakfast networking meetings in the area, but as a busy Mum with school runs to do I cannot often free my time to go. I visited this group first, though, and really enjoyed the format, the people and the food – so I have now joined the FSB and make the effort to go every month.  While breakfast is being served you have the opportunity to present your business in 1 minute to everyone on your table – so selecting where you sit is important if you want to make new connections. Business cards and flyers can be displayed and handed out round your table too.  There is a talk each month which usually proves interesting and informative. If you wish to visit as a guest, please let me know, as we both get a discount compared to if you just book for yourself! FSB - ogo

I hope my small insight into these three different meetings proves useful. I will follow up this post with a similar Networking in Milton Keynes post soon, as we live directly between the two towns, so I am ideally placed to network in both places.