Part 2: Are you too frightened to start your own business?

  • Why would I leave a great job?
  • Am I being selfish towards my family and friends?
  • Do I really have the confidence to follow my own path?
  • What do I actually do?

Do i have the right support network?

The nearer we got to launch, the list of things to do and decisions to make became longer. At times it was overwhelming and this is where having the necessary support helped keep me going.   We called upon friends who owned businesses and trusted clients for advice and feedback. Someone who’d done it before could save weeks of guesswork. Often they would be blunt and question the fundamentals of what we were doing, but the more brutally honest they were, the better we’d end up feeling. It was market research: sometimes not what we wanted to hear, but we ploughed on figuring the more opinions we received, the more fit for purpose we would become.

How do I build up our credibility?

Support also came to us through an unexpected route. A month before launch we thought we’d practise our skills by entering the Digital Catapult’s Environmental Data Exchange hackathon competition aimed at creating useful ways to use environmental data. Our team ended up winning the Twilio prize for our concept, ‘Eco League Live’, and we were offered a place on Digital Catapult’s Contributor programme. It soon became clear that access to their facilities, expertise and incredible location in King’s Cross accelerated our credibility with clients who have visited us in great numbers. I doubt my loft would have proved such an attraction. Digital Catapult also hosts an endless stream of leading edge digital events, meaning interesting opportunities often arrive on our doorstep.

Will I be able to sell anything?

Selling is hard, and even harder when you start out. Whichever way you rationalise it, if you don’t sell enough you will fail. So how do you get customers interested when your new company has no track record? This is an area that really tests the nerves. I used to moan about receiving over one hundred emails each day, but it’s a lot worse to only get a handful, as was the case in the early weeks of Golden Egg. This, despite attending conferences, swapping cards, linking in, pushing press, website and social media content – everything you can imagine. When we looked back at the end of each month, we could see the progress we were making, but day to day you have no idea because you have no context. If something good happens it’s a triumph, but something negative is a disaster. I had to constantly remind myself that the truth lies somewhere in between. You can’t be too patient before pivoting but equally, you must give yourself enough time to have a realistic chance of success.

Will I succeed?

Steve and I set some financial milestones that we’d like to achieve as we progress. So far so good in this respect but of course, we hope this is just the start of a long journey ahead. However, financials are not the most important area where we want to judge success.   It’s important to me to see if I can be happier and more fulfilled than I was as an employee; to make my wife and kids proud and achieve the best work and family life balance for them. I also want to repay the faith, friendship and support of my talented Co founder and his family. One thing that I can say for sure at this stage is that the ‘Gollum’ on my shoulder was right (see Part 1). I would have regretted not doing this. And despite the anguish that I felt during the build up, I’m glad we eventually chose to “jump”.

 

Written by MTA member, Steve Boulton