Building Your Company – An Entrepreneur’s Guide
Guest contributor and former soccer player Emmanuel Adewole brings his insight to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation editorial for Applause Africa.com. The most common verb in entrepreneurship is perhaps the word BUILD—she built a business from scratch
Guest contributor and former soccer player Emmanuel Adewole brings his insight to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation editorial for Applause Africa.com.
The most common verb in entrepreneurship is perhaps the word BUILD—she built a business from scratch out of her backyard; he is building a business from his cousin’s couch. That being said, what is actually being discussed is an acknowledgement of the strong foundation you are laying. Think of it as a mansion, or federal government building; the first floor is usually created initially as a point of entry and to direct guests to their specific location inside the infrastructure, and then the first floor is forevermore the first floor: always solid, never-changing. It will remain the foundation upon which a second floor and more can reside upon. This same ideology is adopted in the concept of developing a successful business. It has to be built with a strong foundation and backed with a strong financial plan to sustain and succeed.
Nothing about a business, no matter how simple it may appear is ever straight forward. It requires constant research for something better and more innovative in order to keep customers returning. To an adventurous mind looking to dab into the world of working for yourself – business is a collection of parts: revenue, marketing, sales, staffing, and many other variable factors. A founder of one company may start with more finance but with a poor business model, while another might be the next Jeff Bezos with only a $10 note to his name. Either way, they all must thrive, and thrive well in the venture they embark on. Growing a business is like raising a child. That means a business isn’t built. It is grown, like a human body. Its parts will change with time, and to keep it healthy it will need constant upkeep and influx of varying nutrients. This comparison highlights the perspective of the entrepreneur who starts a business and wants it to become a corporation overnight. That is simply striving for the impossible because businesses become company only after the flaws have been identified, altered and mastered.
What should you consider before starting a business are: Inspiration, the financial balance – is this risk necessarily worthwhile? Most importantly, when do we get started.
First – always look to personal assets or personal means. Now, I know that you don’t want to hear this but if you don’t have any other choice and you truly believe in your business – then why not use your own assets or cash to get that business off the ground and making money?
I can guarantee you this: If you have your own assets at risk you will work harder and longer to make sure your business does succeed (which is the end goal anyways). The drive to go to extreme measures to make sure a profit on initial cost is met is much – nobody ever wants to take a loss on investment. “Stay self-funded as long as possible.” —Garrett Camp, founder of Expa, Uber and StumbleUpon. I once began an apparel production company with a little over $400. By the time I figured international shipping logistics the actual expense to produce just one piece of clothing had more than doubled.
Bootstrapping. There are many ways to bootstrap your business besides using your own personal funds or assets. These can include crowdfunding, friends and family loans. Although this might not provide a huge amount of money, it might provide enough to get started. The ultimate goal is to have devised a model for garnering profit in your business; once started, other financing avenues will begin to open up.
“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.” —Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
Your friends and family know you best and if you can’t sell your business concept and benefits to them then you will never be able to sell it to consumers you want to pay for your goods or services. Even if your friends and family can’t or won’t invest in you, they may know of others who will – you just have to ask.
Look for partners or investors. If your business concept is not tailor-made for a huge market, or has high and quick growth potential then it is essential you look locally to establish your customer base first. It is key you get out and network in your community with other business owners or local investors that you know will be interested in profiting from your idea. The goal is to sell them on the “what’s in it for us?” rhetoric that they will succumb to asking you. Self-brand yourself with the idea and soon enough when you launch the interest consumers will know who to contact for the product or service.
As an entrepreneur remember: you are simply the founder and CEO of this magnificent start-up business that nobody is aware of until people catch wind of the product or service and alternatively start demanding it. When I launched Wonder Sports and Entertainment Group with my business partner we had to start with just a few connections and major networking – a year and a few months later we had offices in 5 countries with over 60 professional clients affiliated to us. Your early days as a business person means you really do have to go it alone. It is the ultimate challenge; it will really let you know within a couple of months if you are on the right path to further success.
As your business grows, more financing opportunities will open to both it and you – you just have to get started.
“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” – Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.
Emmanuel Adewole is an attorney, fashion designer, CEO of Wonder Sports and Entertainment, and former Arsenal FC Academy member. Follow him on Twitter (@AdewoleOfficial) and houseofaman.com .