“With what I know now about starting and building a successful business, what advice would I give my younger self ?”
In our first blog in this series, we speak to Roland Cage- a successful businessman who has been an entrepreneur starting up new businesses, through to the CEO of large, established companies. With over 25 years in business, read the advice he would give to his younger self.
Be prepared to change.
Although you might be super confident your business model is sound, when you go to the market you always get a real dose of “reality check”. Be prepared to dig deep and don’t be afraid to change as you learn what is reality versus a great idea. Never give up, you will be on a constant roller coaster ride of highs and many lows. Be thick-skinned and push as hard as you can, but recognise when you have honestly exhausted all avenues and that it’s okay to pull up stumps and start again. That’s not failure, that’s being smart not putting yourself in a poor position, especially if you have capital from friends and family or private equity. They will respect you more than if you go too far the wrong way and then have to apologise their capital is gone. Always be honest with them in your journey and never embellish reality. Look back at all the successful businesses that highlight this… Amazon started selling just books.
Cash is King.
This is everyone’s challenge. Even if you raise some capital, be prepared to always run lean. Those that run their early-stage business super lean until they are 1000% confident that when they spend cash on anything from people to systems they know they will get a return on their investment.
Manage your equity.
Many startups attempt to use their equity as another form of capital. From promising newly started equity shares as a subsidy to income, or teaming up with larger groups that they think will add value to their business. Remember anyone new to you is like a first date. Are you ever likely to propose, then treat business partners or people in the very same way? Don’t give away the farm until you are confident they are right for your future.
Don’t always assume you are the CEO.
Take a firm stance on what you know to be your strengths and weaknesses. Many Start Uppers are either technically strong or good at distribution in selling their idea or product as an example. Don’t be afraid when the time is right to step aside and put someone in place to lead. Again be super bullish in exercising point 3 if you get to this point.
Listen and be humble.
Always consume information and respect it for what it is. Many startups fail because they are so consumed that their way is right and look for feedback that tells them what they actually want to hear. This is startup suicide and I have witnessed this both first hand and from the sidelines time and time again.