SO, YOU WANT TO START A BUSINESS?………………………………….
I wanted to share a recent experience with you. At a recent convention I was asked to be part of a start-up panel. I don`t usually accept these invitations just now as I’m in the middle of building a start-up and I very much see it as a real-time learning experience. I have always in the past tried whenever invited to talk/keynote to fill the content with real life experiences on the start-ups I have been involved in or built myself and with this particular business we are building just now its possibly the biggest learning curve I will ever experience and I’m learning every day new things.
The normal “blurghhs” of “look at me” and “I’m so successful” especially from the social media mafia started to rattle my cage and thankfully when it came to me to talk there wasn`t a lot of time left so I diligently explained what my DATAMAiT project is and what we are trying to achieve.
Then, onto questions from the audience and “lone behold” the question given was “What would be the best advice you could give someone thinking of starting a business?”
As the answers came in and the same “drivel” ran out of the panels mouths. I became more and more frustrated by the responses. “Do it” and “It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done” and “If I can do it then anyone can” – bollocks. That’s your OPINION that’s not advice.
Picture the room, filled with government workers, grant agents, university staff and a handful of small business owners and SMEs – in total around 90 or so people.
This is where it gets interesting so bear with me:
HOST – “Lyall , what would be the first thing that you would do or the best advise you would give”
ME – “throw a party”
HOST – “Pardon??”
ME – “Yeah throw a party but I wouldn`t drink, I would stay sober”
HOST – “You mean a launch or pre-launch traction event?
ME – “nope, I would throw a party and only invite my family, friends and loved ones – no-one business related and I wouldn’t drink”
You could drop a pin in the room at this point – and then everyone laughed. This pissed me off and it felt like a millennium until I was prompted to explain. The people who laughed the most were the “social media mafia gurus” also on the panel with me. Let me explain my reasoning because although it may have come over a bit arrogant that wasn`t the plan.
You see, I have been around this “game” for the last 6 years or so. In that time I have learnt that the best people to give you advice at the start are your friends and family as they have no connection to your business and are looking out for YOU! They don`t have “outputs” to fill or “grant placements” to meet or underspends on European funding. They aren`t interested in the profits you make, the lifestyle you aspire to or the business goals you have – they just want you to be ok. So throw a Start-up party, get lots of alcohol and at the start of the night make an announcement such as –
“Thanks for coming, I’m thinking of starting a business and I would really like a few things from you all –
1 – To let you know that if I go ahead and do this life will get very busy, money will get very tight and I may become a moody “bugger” and not see you for a while
2 – I want you to tell me if I should or shouldn’t do this and why
Thanks for coming and let’s get drunk” Cue – Jagerbombs and remember stay sober.
I would also say that after this “start-up” party you take your wife, husband or partner out for a meal (if you have one) and get into why you want to do this and talk about if it’s going to be viable for you as a family.
That’s the best advice I could give and believe me, getting the ones you love the most on the same page as you will help as you go forward.
I left that convention not expecting a favourable response but I am happy to say that lots and lots of you have been in touch through twitter or email to say how helpful that was – that makes me happy.
Your family and friends are the most important thing in your life and although the waters get clouded we should all try and put them at the forefront.
Lyall Timmons is an International IP expert and entrepreneur. Lyall Timmons advises large multi-nationals and SME’s on business intelligence and the benefits that data can provide when managed properly. He also brings his thoughts to market in the form of disruptive IP, consumer goods, INTERNET platforms and a few “crackers” as he calls them.