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9 things you need to know if you are thinking of starting your own business

1. Things are going to change daily, don’t chase the trend.

The online business world is rapidly evolving, and each time there’s a ‘revolutionary phase’ there are winners and losers, but the one thing I have learnt watching young people walk in and out of my office is that you should not go constantly chasing innovation since that’s a dangerous pursuit in itself. While you need to do your utmost to keep up (I mean read and listen widely!) and understand why decisions are being made (where is the money coming from?) you cannot chase every new trend – keep on target with your business concept and mould it to trends that relate to you and your business.

Failure to adapt will make you fail, and failure to commit to a brand objective in the face of change will make you fail.

2. Don’t let your idea be stolen.

Manage your outgoings, spend wisely, sign contracts diligently and make sure you are properly advised on every major business decision. Is the challenge in, how do you manage to share your work widely enough to be noticed, yet not have share it so widely you loose any identity with the work and have the idea ‘stolen’? You need to be strategic, contact the relevant parties that you are trying to reach before you start sharing your ideas – so that when they see it, they recognise it as yours, and yours alone.

While there is always risk, and trademark laws are tricky to pin down, make sure there is a reason that your idea cannot be stolen before you share it. Ask yourself, do you have a niche in the market, do you already have loyalty, do you have access to expertise, reach or distribution that will let you succeed over other entry-level competitors?

3. Manage yourself like a boss.

Usually when you are a start-up, you’re not instinctively programmed to break your work down into manageable chunks or set yourself targets – because there is no one to manage you, and SO much to do. You certainly have a big picture of where you want to end up, but it’s easy to lose yourself without having a clear-cut objective day to day. Most successful people advance by setting quantifiable goals- try it for yourself. Strive to finish a specific piece of work by a definite date. Write your expectations down. Practices such as these will improve your focus in remembering, aiming for and achieving them.

4. Learn the line between over production and under production.

How genuinely productive are you? You need to be honest, are you a procrastinator who can say, ‘I’ve done work all day’, without any visable progress?

That’s not to say you should flood the marketplace or spam prospective collaborate parties with half-baked idea after half-baked idea. Retain your in-built quality control, but make a conscious effort to progress faster – as a general rule of thumb, and of course depending on the situation, if an idea or lead doesn’t develop after a week, revisit it a week later and if it’s still not working, shelve it and start something new.

Be firm following up prospective clients, ideas for your business, and the progress of your development – but don’t piss people off with your persistence. The one thing I have learnt is that big fish are happy to help small fish if they read the situation right and you make it easy for them,  but don’t let them take more from you than offered. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of partnering with a big player, only to realise later that you’ve been taken advantage of.

5. Work out where your money is going to be coming from.

The influencer/ambassador role on social media is a free to enter market, and as such, the revenue model has changed and become a lot more diluted. As people everywhere are still building their personal channels and aiming to be the next Tuula Vintage or They All Hate Us, do you need to re-hash your business plan

The good news is there are now more accessible revenue streams in the online space than ever before, with commercial brands and business decision-makers taking the power of personal brands and online communities very seriously. With substantial traffic and unique content, comes advertising, mobile applications, affiliate links, partnerships and content syndication as only a few of the online revenue streams that have risen in recent years.

6. The time is right now.

There’s never been a better time than now for the self-sufficient, enterprising online guru, and if you’re waiting for the perfect time to enter, you might miss the race all together. That said, never underestimate the importance of a good team and preparation. It’s humanly impossible to fulfill every role yourself, so make sure you have your ducks in order.

7. Remain positive.

Old, but important: it is easy to be cynical and demotivated when things don’t work out or take off overnight, but by being a hater you’re only reducing your own chances of success.

8. Back your self.

While no one likes egomaniac, I mean we live in the country that invented tall poppy syndrome – virtually every artist, blogger, writer, designer etc is harnessing the power of the internet to promote directly to the consumer from their own platform. Be part of it or get left behind.

9. Don’t be too private.

No one likes to fail in public, especially once they have backed themselves, though it is so important to seek recommendations, ask questions, be your brands best advocate.

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