05 Sep

Is starting a business right for you? 4 questions to ask before jumping

Early one from me as I’m off to Paris for 3 days on a mammoth buying trip with Gem. Buying by day and working on our own label range by night. I booked a hotel where we could lazily not have to think about going out and finding somewhere for supper. Buying days are exhausting and working at night even more so, so for the first time we are frequenting Mama Shelter where we can lazily walk from the room to supper either on the roof on in the restaurant. I’m also hoping the hotel doesn’t use long life milk for coffee, fingers crossed!

Lets talk business.

Is starting a business right for you?  4 questions to ask before jumping!

I do things back to front. I launched a business having had no retail or business experience or clue as to what the hell I was doing other than being fed up with my previous life and wanting a change. Read any business tome and you know that the primary reason for businesses failing is because they’ve been started for the wrong reason like you hate your boss, your salary, your life and you want out.  Not exactly the right reasons – the correct reasons are more that you’ve developed enough experience in your chosen field to go out on your own or you’ve identified a gap in the market and or you want a challenge. Hey ho!

So today’s post probably should have been one of the very first posts I penned but I have a funny brain I leap forward and then I go back to the beginning rather than starting at go.

Lots of people want to change their lives just like I did, fed up with the humdrum and wanting more. So rather than lurching head first like I did here are four questions to ask yourself before taking the leap!

How Risk Tolerant Are You?

Can you quit your job, put your house on the line if necessary, sign a lease on a new space, take on staff and way more? In other words are you willing to jump off a cliff and figure out how to land without killing yourself on the way down?

When problems present themselves like the economy tanks or you’ve leased a store in the wrong location, or a supplier runs off with your money (been through all 3) are you going to stay with it? If you’re risk adverse then I hate to say entrepreneurship isn’t right for you. Of course it all depends on how far you want to take your business, I pretty much figured from the get go that I didn’t just want a lifestyle business, one where I would man the store everyday pull an average salary and that would be my life. I wanted more, the more you want the more challenges you face.

Can you make decisions?

Zillions of decisions daily from the first big ones like where do I want to take this business, lifestyle or global? Do I want online or bricks and mortar, how many people do I employ, do I advertise, which suppliers do I go with on and on we could go. You’ve got to be confident in making the right call you won’t always but you have to be self-assured and have the ability to make on a daily basis quick instant decisions.

Can you multitask?

Business owners, new ones at that have to play a number of roles as I’ve mentioned before from head of sales to head of PR. If you can’t multi task you’re in trouble. G can’t multi task he can’t for example paint a wall and talk. I can paint a wall, talk, play with the M’s and eat all at the same time! When he came on board from a corporate city background he found it beyond challenging because our business is so fluid. New possibilities and opportunities present themselves almost daily so you might start off doing one thing only to have the opportunity to design a hotel, land some licensing deals, collaborate with leading brands all coming at you throughout the day. You’ve got to be able to multi task.

I’ve found the more you get your hands dirty juggling all the roles in your business the more knowledge you have and the better prepared you are!  I think I mentioned when I started this business I had images of myself floating around Moroccan in a kaftan on buying trips half the year only to realise that buying takes the smallest amount of time compared with everything else.

Can you handle rejection?

Rejection is tough whether from a new deal or a bunch of horrible comments on twitter about your products store or design. When it looks bleak and it will, when there is no regular pay check and you’re wondering why you are working a zillion hours a day do you still have the passion and self belief that will get your business back on top?

Can you handle it? You’ll need to as there is going to be lots of bad news from investors, the public, suppliers you name it? I have gotten good at handling bad news (probably because I get so much of it) I don’t dwell, ponder, feel bitter, plot that persons downfall it’s a waste of time. I pick myself up and start over. In fact Gem recently pointed out that when I get bad news I’m happier than when I get good news! Weird no? I think something within me thinks, right I’ll show you. It stirs something up in me that I didn’t even realise I had!

Asking yourself these tough questions will help you launch your business. Don’t let them scare you off but the more protected you are and the more armour you have the more successful you will be. Simple as that!

Check out the weekly biz column archives for more tips and business advice.

For retailers, start-ups and budding entrepreneurs, why not try our London Retail Class, or sign up for the Online Retail Masterclass?

This is our ultimate A-Z guide for anyone thinking of starting their own business, or looking to take the next step in building their retail empire.

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