Start - Kevin Duncan - ebook

Start ebook

Kevin Duncan

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Start is a one-stop guide to getting your business of the ground.Written by someone who has actually been there and done it, it getsstraight to the heart of launching your business, with no-nonsenseideas to help you Start out with confidence and a clear direction.Pick up some essential tips like: * Start with the idea. What is it and how will it realise yourambitions?What is the long-term plan? If you don't know where youare going then you won't get there. * Simplicity is the key. Don't overcomplicate things so that theidea is pecked to death by ducks. If you can write it on a postcardand explain it to your mum, then you can get started. * Make clear plans. Draw up One-page business and personal plans towork out what you want in the simplest and clearest possibleway. * Decide what you want. Flush out whether you are building to sell,or just want the business to fund your lifestyle, then take theleap of faith and get it underway. Work hard, but don't confusebeing busy with being effective. * Learn from experience. Realise when you are gaining speed butlosing altitude, and have the courage to change things when theyaren't working well. All vital stuff, packaged and presented in a way that will help youput it into practice right away. So what are you waiting for? It'stime to Start.

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Table of Contents
Praise
Title Page
Copyright Page
Epigraph
Dedication
Acknowledgements
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Introduction
Chapter 1 - Starting from Scratch
Ignore everyone else, what do you want to do?
Reasons for starting a business
I hated my boss
Couldn’t stand the politics
Frustration with current job
Got fired or made redundant
I am, or I became, unemployable
Convinced there must be a better way
Wanted to be my own boss or have more control
The chance to use my brain for my own benefit
Run my life as I want
Life changes everything
Wanted to take a risk
Always wanted to
Wanted the challenge
Wanted to create my own dream job
Spotted an opportunity
Had a safety net
Wanted to make a lot of money
A combination of fear and ambition
What are you really passionate about in life?
How going to work could be like going to play
What exactly is the idea?
What will your business be?
Why do they need you?
Will that make money?
Poor plan, brilliantly executed
Some things to consider
What’s in a name?
Guts, heart or head?
In the mood for change?
Chapter 1 checklist
Chapter 2 - Pecked to Death by Ducks
Why the rough shape will do
Envelopes, fag packets and postcards
Why almost is more than enough
Progress not perfection
Beware spreadsheets
The one-page business plan
Step 1: How much do I want to earn each year?
Step 2: A realistic expenditure per customer/visit/transaction/project
Step 3: A realistic number of customers/visits/transactions/projects
Step 4: How much money will this frequency generate?
Step 5: Deduct all costs
Step 6: If it doesn’t work, change something
Boiler installation example
How much money do I really want?
What’s the proposition?
Describe it to your mum
Beware the context
Big or bold?
Small is good
So is it a goer then?
Chapter 2 checklist
Chapter 3 - Lifestyle Or Build-to-sell?
Predicting the end before you start
What type of business would you like?
What do you wish to do with the business eventually?
Five crucial build-to-sell questions
If you want to sell, who will buy?
What exactly will they be buying?
What price do you want?
How will you justify the price?
Will you be able to work for someone else during the earn-out period?
Five crucial lifestyle questions
What type of lifestyle?
Is that realistic or too fanciful?
How much time off do I want?
Who else is involved?
What happens if I get ill?
Half-dead insurance
The one-page personal plan
Entrepreneurs: myth or reality?
Congratulations Mrs Duncan, it’s an entrepreneur
Work out how
Decision time
Chapter 3 checklist
Chapter 4 - Leap of Faith
Enough talking, let’s get on with it
If you are still planning, you are still not earning
Phobology: what are you scared of?
The hardest things about starting
Confidence crises
Lack of support and what to do about it
Sticking to your principles
Cash problems
Action not activity
Test-driving is better than not driving at all
Don’t do things the same way every time
Risking it all
Get the help you need
Screw it, let’s do it
Just @*!‘ing do it!
Chapter 4 checklist
Chapter 5 - Humility, Honesty and Humour
Getting the character fit right
Go humble more often
Always be honest
Put some humour into it
Only do business with people you like
Only do something if you know why you are doing it
Remember your personal plan
The difference between service and servility
Getting your attitude right
How to conduct yourself
Wherever you go, lighten up the room
Wide berths and giving birth
Small house, big heart
The four Hs
Chapter 5 checklist
Chapter 6 - Hard Work and Clever Work
What is hard work?
There’s work and there’s clever work
When not to work hard, or at all
When laziness does work
Understanding the link between effort and results
Why lazy people achieve nothing
The best things in life
Some simple early rules
Getting the money right
Chapter 6 checklist
Chapter 7 - Gaining Speed and Losing Altitude
Gaining speed and losing altitude
Speed: good or bad?
Busier doesn’t always mean better
Digging a deeper hole
If it’s not working, admit it
Working out when to quit
Change direction and move on
Predicting pitfalls before they happen
Tripwires and predictions
Identify your hates, then ditch them
Facing up to failure
Spotting fool’s gold
Beware self-deception
Don’t kid yourself
Don’t mislead others
You will be rumbled
Chapter 7 checklist
Chapter 8 - Daily Reinvention
Change your offer every day, week, month or year
One in a row
Rewarding yourself appropriately
Don’t get stuck in a rut
Dealing with setbacks: BOHICA
Biggest mistakes and worst disasters
Partners, personalities and personal issues
Money, more customers and moving customers
Technology, timing and trust
Due to tomorrow’s weather . . .
A few moments now . . .
Are we there yet?
Chapter 8 checklist
Chapter 9 - Marketing Matters
Why bother to communicate?
The value of communication
How much should you spend?
Say hello to everyone who could help
Don’t be afraid to ask for mini favours
The only ten things you need to know about marketing
Pre-marketing
Some start-up marketing ideas
Some things to reflect on after a few months of marketing
Relaxed selling lines
Escape lines
Go again
Chapter 9 checklist
Chapter 10 - Pass it on
What they all say
Self-motivation
Money
Action
Relationships
Toughness
Chinese whispers
The invisible support network
You choose this life
APPENDICES
Index
“For anyone thinking about starting their own business who already has the answers, I suggest a read of Kevin’s new book to make sure they are asking the right questions!”
Ian Mason, Head of Creative Industries, Royal Bank of Scotland
“If you liked my book, you’ll love this one! Don’t start a business without both on your shelf.”
Robert Ashton, Author, The Entrepreneur’s Book of Checklists
“This no-nonsense guide to getting your business underway is very powerful and an absolute must read for anyone starting a business.”
Shaun Orpen, Ex-Marketing Director, Orange and founder, RightView Partners
“I met Kevin around 6 years ago when I had assumed responsibility for growing my firm’s services to the media sector. Kevin brought high levels of energy to the task and found a way to deliver tough messages with good humour, which made it very easy to work with him. Fortunately Kevin turned out to be rather good at what he does and extremely well connected so it made my job very easy and guess what? Our business grew.”
“I like the simple message conveyed in the title of this book which is typical of Kevin’s approach: there are no barriers you can’t overcome so just start!”
Graham Clayworth, International Liaison Partner, BDO Stoy Hayward
“Kevin has approached a topic every aspiring entrepreneur should read. I would pass a law that made all legal and financial advisers obliged to provide this book to people starting a business for the first time. There is no better business experience than starting, building and running one’s own enterprise but as Kevin’s book demonstrates, it isn’t for the faint-hearted.“
Paul Simons, Founder, Cagney and former CEO, Ogilvy
Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Duncan
First published in 2008 by Capstone Publishing Ltd. (a Wiley Company) The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, PO19 8SQ, UK.www.wileyeurope.com
Email (for orders and customer service enquires): [email protected]
The right of Kevin Duncan to be identified as the author of this book has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4LP, UK, without the permission in writing of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 8SQ, England, or emailed to [email protected], or faxed to (+44) 1243 770571.
Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. All brand names and product names used in this book are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The Publisher is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.
This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold on the understanding that the Publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
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Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books.
Anniversary Logo Design: Richard J. Pacifico
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Duncan, Kevin, 1961-
Start : how to get your business underway / Kevin Duncan. p. cm.
Includes index.
eISBN : 978-1-907-29332-0
1. New business enterprises. 2. Entrepreneurship. I. Title. HD62.5.D877 2007
658.1’1--dc22 2007050367
Typeset in 11.5/14 pt ITC Garamond by Thomson Digital
Printed and Bound in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padtow, Cornwall, UK
Substantial discounts on bulk quantities of Capstone Books are available to corporations, professional associations and other organizations. For details telephone John Wiley & Sons on (+44) 1243-770441, fax (+44) 1243 770571 or email [email protected]
“We have no money so we will have to think.”
Lord Rutherford
This book is dedicated to my mum; my wonderful daughters Rosanna and Shaunagh; and my brilliant partner Sarah Taylor.
As predicted, the Sleeping Lion awoke.
In memory of my father James Grant Duncan, 1923-1989.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Once again, big respect to Gray Jolliffe for the superb cartoons, and to Sam for the introduction.
Thanks to all my mates for all their advice and support: Simon Docherty, Mark Earls, Tina Fegent, Mark Gordon, John Hamilton-Hunt, Dave Hart, Rassami Hok-Ljungberg, Daf Jones, Mark Joy, Graeme Leno, Nic Ljungberg, Jim Marshall, John Owrid, Melanie Ryder, Paul Speers, Glyn Taylor; all the gang at Turner Duckworth, especially Moira and Bruce; and the team at Prontaprint Victoria.
And for reading an early version: Robert Ashton, Graham Clayworth, Ian Mason, Shaun Orpen and Paul Simons.
For the introduction to James Murray Wells: David Magliano.
A big thank you too to my team at Capstone, particularly to John Moseley for believing in my stuff.
Thanks go to all those who took the trouble to answer my questions: Robert Ashton, Steve Barber, Renee Botham, Sue Buckle, Andrew Butcher, Paula Carter, Will Collin, Chris Cowpe, Vanessa Dalton, Peter Dann, Peter Davies, Matthew Durdy, Tim Ellis, Anne Esler, Ian Fairbrother, Ian Farrow, Tina Fegent, Marcel Feigel, Paul Flynn, Giles Fraser, Peter Gaze, Sheila Gimson, Laurence Green, Steve Greensted, Irma Hamilton-Hunt, John Hartley, Gordon Haxton, Tom Helliwell, Rassami Hok Ljungberg, Camilla Honey, Ian Humphreys, Julian Hurst, Vanella Jackson, Chris Jenkins, Sarah Jennings, Cathy Johnson, Daf Jones, Caroline Kinsey,
Stephen Knight, Peter Law, Stephen Martin, Zena Martin, Simon Mathews, Chris Matthews, Mark McCallum, Peter McCamley, Manisha Mehta, Juan Montes, Adam Morgan, Ivan Mulcahy, Griselda Mussett, Mo Murphy, Michael Pagan, Graham Rittener, Ben Robbins, Julian Saunders, Andrew Sawkins, Paul Simons, Paul Speers, Sarah Taylor, Andy Tilley, David Turner and Richard Wyatt-Haines.
If you ever need any inspiration, or proof that we all go through the same troubles, read their words of wisdom and you’ll feel much better.
And finally many thanks to the good people at The Week Magazine (″All you need to know about everything that matters″) - the source of the majority of the quotations in this book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Duncan worked in advertising and direct marketing for twenty years. For the last eight years he has worked on his own as a business adviser, marketing expert and author. He teaches at Canterbury University, and advises various businesses as a non-executive director, business strategist and trainer.
He has two daughters, Rosanna and Shaunagh, and lives in Westminster. In his spare time he travels to strange parts of the world, releases rock albums and flies birds of prey.
Also by Kevin Duncan:Teach Yourself Running Your Own Business Teach Yourself Growing Your Business So What?
If you want to be alerted to future books by the author, or want to contact him: [email protected]typepad.com
Introduction
Thanks for picking up this book. You are obviously in the mood for change, and you have already admitted to yourself that you might need a bit of help. That’s two massive steps already. People set up businesses when they get fed up with the way other companies do things, or if they have a brilliant idea, or if they get booted out of their corporation and have no choice (there’s no embarrassment with this any more - it happened to me on several occasions).
There must be millions of books about starting your own business, so why should this one be any different? Well, part of it may lie in what this book does not cover. Firstly, it is not a self-help book that takes you step by step through all the technical stuff such as how to do your tax return or visit the bank for a loan. There are plenty of other books that do this. Secondly, it is not my life story from rags to riches. These can be interesting, but more often than not they are very predictable. You know the sort of stuff: I started off in my front room, then we had to work in the garage, then we had to borrow some money from my uncle, and so on. Unless these stories have a fascinating angle that is directly relevant to your situation, then they may not help you, the ordinary person, to cope with what you are going to go through.
No, what I am interested in is how you feel.
I have long held the belief that you cannot run your own business successfully if you haven’t got your head straight when you are off duty. As a sole trader, your home and work life are often indivisible. You need to be balanced and calm in both areas otherwise you will self-destruct.
That’s what this book is all about: how to set up your own business, run it successfully, and stay sane. Easier said than done? It can be done, believe me. All you need is good advice, the desire to learn, an inquiring mind, and a sense of humour. That’s why I have interviewed so many people for this book - so that you can see that they all went through exactly the same stuff as you, and to let you know that it absolutely can be done.
Dive in and enjoy the journey.
1
Starting from Scratch
This chapter covers many of the reasons for starting a business. Ignore everyone else, what do you want to do? What are you really passionate about in life? Going to work could be like going to play if you choose the right line of work. Questions you have to address include: what exactly is the idea, what will your business be, why do your customers need you, and will your idea make money? A poor plan, even if brilliantly executed, is still a poor plan. Are you in the mood for change?

Ignore everyone else, what doyouwant to do?

Starting from scratch is a scary thing. Here I sit in front of an empty desk with a book to write. It’s the second of January and you have no business, no customers, and no tangible manifestation of your brilliant idea. Don’t panic. A lot of us have been there. You are not alone. Put the kettle on - we’ve got some serious thinking to do.
“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
Walter Bagehot
Frankly, when it comes to the matter of starting your own business, for once we are not remotely interested in anyone else’s opinion. Ignore everyone else. What do you want to do? Don’t rush the answer. If you do, you may well end up doing something that is less than satisfying. No, go for the thing that you really fancy. Don’t worry at this stage about how you are going to do it. Just focus on the main point, and keep looking at it until you are satisfied that it is right for you.
This book is all about you and your aspirations, and to help navigate you through how to realize them, I have asked lots of other people what they went through and why they bothered. The full survey is in Appendix II, so you can go into more detail if a particular story fascinates you, but I have drawn out the main themes as we go along so we can learn from others and confirm that everyone goes through what you will.

Reasons for starting a business

So let’s begin by looking at why people bother to go to all the trouble of starting their own business in the first place. In the survey I asked five questions. The first was What made you start your business? Over sixty people answered, so we have quite a decent spread of opinion to work with. The range of reasons for starting a business is fascinating:
• I hated my boss.
• Couldn’t stand the politics.
• Frustration with current job.
• Got fired or made redundant.
• Convinced there must be a better way.
• Wanted to be my own boss/have more control.
• The chance to use my brain for my own benefit.
• Run my life as I want.
• Life changes everything.
• Wanted to take a risk.
• Always wanted to.
• Wanted the challenge.
• Wanted to create my own dream job.
• Spotted an opportunity.
• Had a safety net.
• Wanted to make a lot of money.
• A combination of fear and ambition.
I should stress that this is not a quantitative survey, so there is no particular order or bias to the answers. Let’s work through them to see what we can learn, and so that you can work out what your own reasons are.

I hated my boss

Shocking, but true. Many people cite as their main reason for setting up a business the fact that they couldn’t stand their boss. Some bosses are undoubtedly incompetent, but the comment mainly seems to refer to their unacceptable behaviour-boorishapproaches, bullying, sexism, arrogance, a despotic, dominating style - you name it. No matter what corporations do to prevent this appalling activity, some bad apples always seem to slip through the net. No one should have to put up with this sort of behaviour, and many don’t. How about you? To see how this sort of approach from inappropriate bosses can spur someone on to start their business, take at look at the story of Julian Saunders:
“What motivated me to start my own business was a desire for freedom from corporate life, prompted by the truly loathsome experience of working under my previous boss. It confirmed what I already knew in my heart of hearts. I could not put up with all the nonsense of big ad agencies any more. I had grown out of it.”
Julian’s full story is in Appendix II. Recognize any symptoms from your current job?

Couldn’t stand the politics

This is not the same as hating your boss or being subjected to unreasonable working practices. Political companies foster an atmosphere in which people do not say what they mean. Or they don’t mean what they say. Either way, if you value your honesty and integrity (see Chapter 5), then you won’t be able to tolerate this type of environment for very long. In my experience, there are two main things that happen when an individual can’t stand a political environment.
1. You don’t say what you mean and end up hating yourself.
2. You say what you mean and eventually get fired.
If it’s the first, then you may be in the right frame of mind to set up your own business. If it’s the second, then read on, we’ve all been there.

Frustration with current job

You might not hate your boss and you might not work in a particularly political company, but you might still find large chunks of it deeply frustrating. The question is: to what extent? Mild, occasional frustrations may be natural and tolerable. Deep-seated and near-permanent frustration may mean it is time to move on. Millions have, and just think how much happier you could be.

Got fired or made redundant

I was made redundant three times in the 1990s. I was variously described as ″surplus to requirements″, ″culturally incompatible″ and ″a mistake″. It’s charming, isn’t it? And here I am offering my advice to the world! If my former employers were right, you had better stop reading now. Seriously though, there is no stigma any more to being chucked out by companies. It is even possible that the people who got rid of you may well since have suffered the same indignity themselves. So don’t beat yourself up. If you want confirmation that millions have been in the same boat, read some of the experiences in Appendix II. Then take a deep breath and set about designing a much more rewarding life for yourself.

I am, or I became, unemployable

How brilliant is this? Many of our respondents have reached the conclusion that they simply aren’t employable any more. Musicians and artists in particular will argue that they could never, ever ″work for the man″. Tim Ellis, a musician, writer and producer, says simply:
“I’m unemployable.”
These types of people never even try normal employment. They just know that they would tell their boss where to stick it by lunchtime on the first day. I have massive admiration for this approach. These people really know what they stand for, and that is one of the most important parts of satisfaction in life and one’s overall self-esteem.
Others, like me, seem to turn feral over the years, like cats that wander around our industrial parks and wasteland. Don’t worry if this sounds like you. It’s quite normal. As Paul Simons says:
“I believe that anyone who has created their own business successfully becomes unemployable.”
As the years roll by, and as you experience the working practices of more and more companies, you will find yourself increasingly shaking your head and muttering to yourself: “This is nuts.” If so, it may be time to make your move.

Convinced there must be a better way

If you think that the way your company is doing things is daft, then it’s usually a short step to knowing what a better way is. Many who set up on their own are absolutely convinced that there is one. They know that the old way doesn’t make sense and they can’t stand it any longer. A bit of thought, a more flexible attitude, and the right approach from the start are all it needs to get underway. Is this you?

Wanted to be my own boss or have more control

Boss haters are often spurred to crave their own autonomy, but at a much milder level, a simple yearning for a higher degree of control is sometimes enough to push people over the edge. A lot of what people get asked to do in companies is hard for the individual to justify. For an extreme view of this phenomenon, read Hello Laziness by Corinne Maier (there is a summary in Appendix I). She goes so far as to assert that salaried work is the new slavery, and that the ideology of most businesses is no better than communism. A bit over the top perhaps, but the idea of being your own boss can be very appealing, especially if your current job involves doing all sorts of things for which there appears to be no decent reason.

The chance to use my brain for my own benefit

There is a close link between being the master of your own destiny and using your skills or brainpower for your own benefit. How frustrating it must be for intelligent people to find that their brains are not properly utilized. Or that their ideas and efforts are not harnessed by their employer in a fruitful way. It can be massively frustrating, and that is why so many people set up their own business.
“If I had only known… I would have been a locksmith.”
Albert Einstein

Run my life as I want

Control, using your brain properly, running your life as you want. It all starts to come together as one thing. Those who hanker after these things have had enough of routine. The daily commute. The rigid working hours that bear no relation to the ebb and flow of the tasks that need doing. They all start to seem irrelevant. Flexible working has certainly helped a little. Some can do a proportion of their work from home. But still the corporate treadmill and millstone is there. Simple things such as the school run or waiting in for the gas man pale into insignificance when you run your own business. You can organize it all as you want it, and, to be honest, what grown-up, sentient being wouldn’t want to do that?

Life changes everything

Moments in life can also be the trigger that fires the self-employed gun. Many women specify pregnancy as a fundamental reason why they stopped working for corporations. They simply use it as a neat way to bookend their conventional career and move onto something more fulfilling and flexible. Sometimes that means providing a mini version of what they originally did for the company. Other times, it’s a complete relaunch in a totally new field. Lots of parents also set up their own businesses because they want to see their children grow up. The majority of these used to be women, but now many men do it too.
“A lot of businesses are being started by women who have been working for idiots for years. They know they can do their boss’s job, but they know they will never be given it.”
Jean Denton, director of British Nuclear Fuels, 1988

Wanted to take a risk

Look at the testimony from Andy Tilley:
“Reaching forty, being totally frustrated by the way my employer treated our discipline, ignored counsel and refused to change the structure of the business to adapt to the new landscape. At the same time hearing a story from a close friend who had attended Harvard. During a series of interviews with 75 men over 75, almost 80% said they wished they had taken more risks … Had to do it particularly as a number of my clients suggested it and said they would support it.”
So 80% of men over 75 years old said they wished they had taken more risks. It was their biggest regret. Andy didn’t want to be lying in a hospital bed as an old man wondering ″What if?” So he got off his backside and got down to designing his version of what a business should be.

Always wanted to

For some, the desire to run their own thing often comes as a sort of epiphany, or as a result of the types of frustrations we have been looking at. But there are others who have always wanted to. Many are the sons and daughters of self-employed parents. Look at the cases of John Hartley and David Turner:
“In the end it’s not a choice. It’s a compulsion. I’m the only child of two self-employed parents so I grew up with it round the dinner table. I just didn’t value corporate jobs. ’Real’ work meant being self-employed, not being a salary man. That was the apprenticeship - learning a trade.”
“My Dad had done it and preached its benefits. Also, I always liked making my own decisions.”
They have seen at first hand how it works, and when they experience the madness of company life, the contrast is all the more stark. As Tom Helliwell says:
“I wanted to run my own business from the age of 15. I have some narcissistic traits which means I often believe I know more than my boss, and often my boss sees me as a threat, so I always used to get fired.”

Wanted the challenge

Some crave the challenge of running their own business from a young age. They always wanted to. But others find it creeping up on them. It can strike at any time. Some become bored doing the same old thing, with the same old (lack of) results. They need a new challenge. Others trawl around scores of jobs and just can’t find any stimulation, and that’s one thing you are never short of when you run your own business.

Wanted to create my own dream job

Dreaming is another regular feature of setting up on your own. If you can design the job yourself, then why not make it your dream job? Sure, there will be some grim stuff to do, but if it’s all for a cause that you invented or believe in, then somehow it all seems so much more worthwhile. The simple act of licking a stamp and putting it on an envelope can take on a whole new meaning when it contains one of your own invoices.

Spotted an opportunity

There are some who simply say that they saw an opportunity and went for it. In this respect, it doesn’t really matter what their circumstances were before they made the leap. They may have been running another business, or they may have been working for someone else. The point is, they had an idea, and then had the courage of their convictions to get on and do it. This will be a recurring theme in the book, but if you want to think more about that now, then go straight to Chapter 4.

Had a safety net

A few people are honest enough to admit that they had the benefit of a safety net when they set up their business. This certainly helps to reduce stress levels, although in some cases there are those who think it also makes people too comfortable and reduces their drive. The nature of the safety net varies hugely. Sometimes it is a significant redundancy payment. Perhaps a continuing contract of some kind with your former employer as a consultant. Others have husbands, wives or partners who earn and are prepared to support the household until the new business is fully underway. It’s a magnanimous gesture and it happens frequently. And finally there are those incredibly lucky people who have independent means, or, put another way, are loaded and so can have a dabble. If you are one of these people, then I don’t think this book is for you - you have to really need your business to work to be interested in the day-to-day minutiae that preoccupy the average sole trader.

Wanted to make a lot of money

Funnily enough, this is one of the least common reasons cited for starting a business. A few do, but far more say that you shouldn’t do it for the money, but to enable yourself to do something you love. The money comes later. A fine balance, some would argue. For an exploration of the philosophy behind this, have a look at Chapter 10 and see what you believe.

A combination of fear and ambition

Some people are candid enough to cite fear or ambition as their reason for starting their business. Have a look at what Paul Simons says:
“In truth, a combination of fear and ambition. The fear was becoming a highly paid 40 something with my life held in someone else’s hands, on a whim. Very scary. On the ambition front, I believed there was a better way!”
The fear seems to creep in as people get older - they don’t want to spend their entire life in the thrall of someone else, and they don’t want to end their days thinking “If only … Ambition takes all sorts of forms. Even those who have been the chief executive of a huge corporation can have the ambition to do their own thing.

What are you really passionate about in life?

Much of it boils down to what you feel passionate about. If you are very lucky, you may be able to turn a passion or hobby into an income-generating business. If this is a true passion like music or sport, then the fit can be utterly brilliant. But more likely it will be some sort of subsidiary talent that you used to pursue in your youth or that you currently squeeze into what little spare time you have. What side interest do you have that could form the basis of your own business?

How going to work could be like going to play

Those who manage to crack this problem end up saying that going to work is effectively like going to play. It just doesn’t feel like work in the sense that we understand it in corporations. This may in large part be down to the enjoyment of the subject, and your intrinsic interest in it, but it is also helped by lots of little things that make life more palatable: the lack of a commute, more relaxed clothing, flexible working hours, greater holiday freedom, a better link between effort and reward, and much more. We will cover lots of these in the book.

What exactly is the idea?