Jim Duffy comment: What to know before starting your own business

There is a 'tremendous' amount of support in Scotland for entrepreneurs, Duffy points out. Picture: Jon Savage.
There is a 'tremendous' amount of support in Scotland for entrepreneurs, Duffy points out. Picture: Jon Savage.
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In the week of the Queen’s Speech where the Prime Minister lauded how his government would promote entrepreneurship, he fired the starting bullet in who is best placed to succeed should Scotland determine that it wants to be independent.

But don’t fret yet. Scotland doesn’t simply need entrepreneurs. It needs all kinds of people to start and grow businesses. And with so many professionals about to hit retirement age, we have bucketloads of talent who could make that brave move and go out on their own. But a word of caution.

You will move into a world of uncertainty combined with focus, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.

You will move into a world of uncertainty combined with focus, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.

Opening any sort of new venture ain’t easy. Especially when one has been institutionalised for many years. Riding your own horse in the races is very much different from going to the races and backing a winner.

So, what can you expect? You may be a teacher who has been operating in a busy school for over a decade. You may be a financial services professional who is skilled in one area, but knows she has it in her to re-skill. You may be a council employee who is part of local government and wants to unleash that inner “entrepreneur”.

Whatever job you do or role you fulfil just now, the good news is you will have transferable skills you can bring to starting a new business. However, first thing first.

Starting anything needs commitment, will, determination, and an acceptance that you will have to go all in.

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And these words can become glib when seasoned entrepreneurs tell their stories and are asked what makes their path special. But there is no getting away from it. Whether you want to create a new global cryptocurrency, open a flower shop, create a mosquito-proof clothing line or open a restaurant, your life will change.

Support

The first thing you need on board before anything is the blessing and support of your nearest and dearest. As you are about to change. Your whole world is now governed and orchestrated by you. From what time you go to bed to what time you get up in the morning.

No more same old same old planning, knowing what train or bus to catch and when the bell will ring for “playtime”. No, you will move into a world of uncertainty combined with focus, where your head will be in your business. After all, you will almost certainly have some sort of money, cash or finance staked within it, so it is up to you to make it work. And family will need to know what is going to happen and how to help you.

Having enlisted that vital support, you will need to do a ton of research around the type of business that you want to open and run. Is it an entrepreneurial venture where you jump on the pitching and accelerator type network with a designated and demonstrably different painpoint where you intend to change the world?

Is it that flower shop with a twist, where your creations will stand out at any wedding? Or is it that “one man and a van” firm where you wash and valet cars in people’s driveways? Regardless, you will have to understand the sector you want to get into.

Advice

All good so far then. But there are two groups of people that are hugely important when getting started and running as smoothly as possible.

The first I have found are a hit or a miss – professional services. Starting out with a good lawyer who understands what you want to do and helps you get there is crucial.

Secondly, sourcing a mentor or wise head who has either worked in your chosen area or started and runs or sold a business is also of significance. This person will help you run the race advising you on what to expect at each jump on the way.

After all, you most certainly don’t want to fall off. That can be very costly indeed.

All good stuff and coupled with the tremendous support that is out there in Scotland to help you start, it does not matter what background of work you have come from, you can succeed. So, whether Scotland goes it on its own or stays as part of a bigger corporate in the union, it doesn’t actually matter as it all starts with you when you decide to open a business.

The question is: will you?

Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special.