Collaborative Article: What 3 pieces of advice should one follow when starting their own business?

In this collaborative article, our entrepreneurs have shared crucial advice for those starting their business. Lea Pica emphasises defining a purpose and understanding the target customer. Erwin Wils highlights problem-solving, niche selection, and market validation. Steve Gough stresses active listening and commitment. Dave Davies advocates for audience understanding, a clear sales process, and avoiding shortcuts. Austin Clark focuses on creating value, sticking to core values, and enjoying the journey. Reece Matthews underscores continuous learning, seeking mentorship, and finding joy in the entrepreneurial journey. Stathi Marneros candidly outlines challenges, urging self-assessment. Michael Buckworth offers practical advice on idea sharing, legal considerations, and risk management. This comprehensive guide provides essential wisdom for budding entrepreneurs looking to begin their business journey. Read their inputs below!

Lea Pica

Data Storytelling Advocate

1. Define your big WHY: WHY do you want to start your own business? Is it because you have a product you love to make, a service you love to perform, or knowledge you wish to share with the world? Get really clear on what your goals are for starting a business and use that as your north star as you start to build.

2. Define your target customer: whose life are you trying to help make better through your product, service, or knowledge? What are their life characteristics? What are their biggest dreams and aspirations? What are their biggest fears and obstacles, and how can your offering help them overcome it for a better life? Focus on your customer and making their lives better and you’ll win every time.

3. Recognize that just because you have an amazing offering you want to share with the world, that does not mean you have the skills to run a business. The most valuable asset you’ll have is a voracious appetite to learn new skills, so make one of the first you learn cash flow management in a business. Read “Profit First” by Mike Michaelowicz, who’s written a series of books to help aspiring entrepreneurs avoid small business struggle and failure. Profit First will also help you manage your personal finances better, which is a skill we often learn far too late in life!

Erwin Wils


There is so much to share when you’re starting your own business, it’s hard to limit myself to just 3 tips. At least the following 3 should give you a head start:

1) You’re in a problem solving business. Your client experiences a problem, and you have the tools and expertise to solve that problem. The bigger the problem, the more the client is willing to pay for it. So when marketing your services or product, focus on the problem you solve, how the client will benefit from your solution. Also understand the client is not paying for the tool you use, they’re paying to get rid of the problem. I see a lot of entrepreneurs (still) promoting the tools they use.

2) Choose your niche. I remember that it felt very counter intuitive when I started my business. I had the knowledge and tools to help everybody, why would I wanted to exclude anybody? Yet when you want to help everybody, you’re not giving them a specific reason why they should come to you. When you experience a problem, would you rather go to a generalist, specialist or expert? Choosing niche gives you the opportunity to dive into it and become the expert within that niche. One of my coaches once said: “when you go fishing, would you like to fish in a small pond and catch every fish in it, or fish in the ocean, hoping that one will bite? And that the one biting is the one you were hoping to catch?”. That doesn’t mean you can’t help someone outside of your niche. There is a difference between the people you market to and the people you actually help, if you know what I mean.

3) When you have a great idea, sell it! What I mean, is don’t waste lots of money and time to build something to perfection, only to find out the market doesn’t need it. You might create a (rough) prototype to give people an idea of what they’re getting, but that’s it. Start with market research, then sell your (potential) solution, maybe even people to pay a little deposit and then start building it. That way, you know that there is a demand in the market for your solution, and you have a driving force to actually build it. Worst case scenario, the demand is too little and you have to return the deposits. Best case scenario, you hit the road running.

There is much more I can share like I mentioned before. If you’re interested, or want to elaborate on above points, contact me.

Steve Gough

Managing Director critical elements limited

No 1: Listen to your customers. I’ve lost count of the number of customers we have won because I took time to find out what they care about and why they care about it.
No 2: Listen to your people. When you hire good people they have good ideas and they perceive things that you will miss.
No 3: Commit. Nothing got done well through hesitation and prevarication. Go all in or don’t go at all.

Dave Davies

Revenue Growth Champion at Sandler

Be a “razor”

Get clarity on “Who you serve?” (Ideal Client), “What you serve?” (Solve problems, don’t sell “stuff”), “How you serve?” (What value are you bringing, and how will you bring it), and “Who you are?” (What are you going to do, pro-actively, to build a client base). All things to all people, is often nothing to no-one. Sharpen your understanding of where you fit.

Develop a clear sales process

Know how you are going to take people from “interested” (leads) to “invested” (customers). A system sets you free from the tyranny of “winging it”.

Develop tight scripts for each stage of the sales process. Lead creation. Connect call (intro). Discovery Call (Qualification and Quantification). Presenting Solutions. Closing (Getting a Decision). Develop useful, useable, resources for each step.

Stop swapping “Cows” for “Magic Beans”

There are no short-cuts to success. There are no “magic potions” or “silver bullets”.

Stop spending eyewatering sums of money on “cross-fingers and hope” marketing solutions. Get out and talk to people about who you are, what you do, and where you fit. Network, Make Calls, Find Collaborators, Partners.

It’s not the “Field of Dreams”. They come because you invite them to. Not just because you have a fancy website.

Austin clark

Chief Commercial Officer

We have been building our business and brand for the past 14 years through organic growth and aquisition and continue to pursue the building out of a global recruitment and outsourcing practice…its not an easy process but we are delighted that we have continued to grow through many bad winters and create a partnership model that the Life Sciences sees value from…

1. Create value and clear USP’s and focus on the customers that see value in your offering.
2. stick with the process and don’t deviate from your values
3. Enjoy everything you do, as this will come across internally and externally with all that makes up your company

the science of people, the DNA of business

Reece Matthews

Co-Founder, COO at Hewitt Matthews

When it comes to starting your own business, there can be a plethora of information available from just about every source possible, but where do you start? Having started the business a little over 7 years ago now, it’s an enjoyable task to look back and review the journey that I’ve been on with my own digital agency, Hewitt Matthews.

Part of this reflection exercise, it’s quite obvious to me in the areas that have provided the most value and those of which I would do again, in a heartbeat, if I ever started again. My top 3 pieces of advice would be:

1) Never stop learning. A business is constantly evolving, as is the market that it operates in. It’s absolutely vital that you’re never left behind, or worse – being outgrown by your business. Pick up those books, look at what industry leaders are doing and just ensure you’re learning in every available opportunity that you get.

2) Seek a mentor/advisor – this doesn’t need to be a paid piece when you’re starting out. You’ll be amazed at what asking for help can help you achieve and I’ve developed some of the longest lasting, positive relationships by simply asking for help and admitting that I am still new and very much open to learning. A mentor not only helps you through challenges but also shares their personal advice and help. Trust me, on those days where you feel like giving up, they can be a true lifesaver.

3) Enjoy the journey and focus less on the destination. As cliche as this one may sound, it’s really important to not live by your goals. Sure, every business needs it’s goals and objectives but when it comes to the day to day, enjoy those times you’re meeting someone brilliant or you’re working on a project that is pretty quirky and unique. I wish I had known about this one sooner as I have always been so focused on goals, it can often lead to burnout and increased stress. Every now and again, sit down and reflect on what has been achieved, what was enjoyable and what made going to work that little more fun?

Stathi Marneros

Founder & Managing Partner – Spartan Partnership Executive Search

Starting / running a business is not for everyone. Ask yourself if you are the right kind of person to start a business?
Can you work long hours?
Can you take pressure and criticism?
Can you cope with the stress and uncertain financial insecurity?
Get used to counting sheep, there will be plenty of sleepless nights.
Get used to not switching off – you’re always on the grid!
Are you tenacious, resilient, motivated?

Michael Buckworth

Buckworths Limited

1. Don’t worry too much about people stealing your idea – get out there and tell everyone about what you plan to do. You’ll get feedback, build your network and launch quicker.
2. Don’t get distracted by offshore structures. What’s more important is that you qualify for UK investor tax reliefs – SEIS and EIS – and that your compliance costs are kept low.
3. Identify and manage your risk – get insurance; get your customer contract drafted by a lawyer and think carefully about the data you process.

Thank you for all the brilliant contributions we received for this collaborative article. There is clearly a wealth of valuable knowledge which has been provided here. If you are interested in contributing to one of our collaborative articles you can do so by clicking on the link below! Don’t hesitate to become a thought leader now!
About the author: Tilly Little
Digital marketer at Expert Circle

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