We’ve had a couple of warm sunny days in beautiful London, which indicates that my favourite season is here. Welcome to (a hopefully long lasting) Spring. For me, spring is a time of renewal, a time where each flower and bloom reminds me of starting over. So lately, I’ve found myself thinking of when I started this journey. Four years ago, I was busy working for a large investment bank. Then I decided it was time for a change, so I started to delve into the world of one-of-a-kind confectionery, wanting to create a real alternative to a box of chocolate. To make the finest in handmade Italian luxury chocolate and sweets. If you are also thinking of starting your own business, well done! Here are my 10 tips for starting your own business.
- Be patient
Creating a business from scratch takes time. I would say, a bit more time than you envisage. But sometimes it’s less time!! It’s very difficult to predict. In the last four years Lavolio has been growing at an exciting pace. I first started selling at London’s farmers markets, I then made plenty of plans to expand, but was very patient and aware it would take time. After six months of markets I started selling at Fortnum & Mason, then onto many more independent shops and now I have my very own Lavolio Boutique Confectionery store in London.
- Reach out to people
You can’t do everything yourself. Help from others is vital and you can drive growth by reaching out, and knocking on people’s doors. But don’t just try to sell your product, also listen to their ideas and feedback. For Lavolio, other people’s involvement has made the most considerable difference. I’m very grateful and humbled by the amount of support I’ve had. It didn't happen by magic, it happened because of my reaching out.
- Don’t underestimate your passions
You need to know that there are many aspects of running a business that will not match your dreams of being a founder, but the core of the business should be something you are truly passionate about. It makes a world of difference to have a real mission close to your heart when times are difficult and challenging.
- To-do lists should be short
Have only 5, 10 tasks that can actually be accomplished in your working day. Keep big time-consuming projects on a separate list, or maybe on a pin board. “Make a new website” it is not helpful, but “approve design of new logo” or “choose e-shop platform” are more accomplishable tasks.
- Be frugal
No matter what stage you’ve reached, keep in mind that your resources are limited. There are wonderful PR agencies, trade shows and events around, but at a considerable cost. When faced with this decision, I would recommend to double check first, and ask other entrepreneurs where they have invested, and what they got from it.
- Don’t be afraid to learn
You are on a learning journey. Even if my initial idea was based on a lot of research I couldn’t have imagined what it would be like to start a business from zero. I have been learning about the different aspects of starting a business mainly by sharing my idea with other entrepreneurs and mentors. They provide a huge amount of expertise and support.
- For girls only: use your super powers
If you are a girl, you will be confronted at some point with a situation where you will ask yourself if you are “just” a woman in a man's world. It’s hard to always remain sure of yourself and emanate the self confidence that you need. My only advice is to embrace your feminine side, even if it means showing your vulnerability at times. Just remember to always be yourself, and to trust in your abilities.
This is by far the most practical tip. Technology is a huge resource for any new business. Invest time into researching. Google is a wonderful resource, and Linkedin is a must before entering a meeting.
- Be resourceful
Different challenges will require you to learn how to tackle tasks you weren’t even aware that existed. For example, I discovered that learning some tricks in how to code, or to use tools used by graphic designers were quite helpful. Think out of the box and find a solution which might be unusual but works. It gives me the greatest satisfaction to learn something new.
- Just do it
And don't forget to do it with a smile!