Founding one’s own business. That’s a totally insurmountable thing that most people talk about but never do – like climbing Kilimanjaro, learning how to crochet, or tidying the box room. Right?
Setting up shop as a lone ranger sure is a hard graft. After all, you’ll have to deal with icky stuff like spreadsheet formulas and PAYE tax; not to mention the million-dollar question of how to take an idea from ephemeral to tangible. But for those with the good kind of tunnel vision, it really is a viable option, and well worth considering as an alternative to the traditional career path. AND, thanks to 1) dem internets, 2) government-backed support and finance for small businesses, and of course 3) our definitive list of startup resources, taking the plunge is easier now than ever.
Still not convinced? We spoke to Adam Smith, who at the tender age of 23 is the Managing Director of digital agency Damteq, which employs two members of staff and has nearly 300 clients after one successful year in business – a course he navigated without celebrity connections, or rich parents, or the use of hit-men, or even Bernard’s Watch. HELLO, inspiration.
BIG STORIES HAVE SMALL BEGINNINGS
Having had a keen interest in IT from a young age, I always saw anything to do with computers as more of a hobby as opposed to work. This inspired me to study IT at college level. However, it was when I started driving lessons that I saw my first opportunity to start my own business – I suggested to my driving instructor that in exchange for driving lessons, I could build him a website. That’s when I realised that he would also need ongoing maintenance as well as SEO and marketing support, and bam! This was how my core business strategy was developed. Under the name, Damteq, I bought my domain for £2.99, and that’s where it started.
TAKEAWAY: Inspiration can knock at any moment, provided you’re always listening.
YOU DON’T NECESSARILY NEED A UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
After college, I decided against the expensive route of university, as taking out a student loan and getting in debt just didn’t appeal to me. I instead found a job as a corporate account manager for a local IT company while continuing to build websites, host domains and give SEO support for a growing number of clients in the evenings and at weekends, all from my bedroom in my parents’ house.
TAKEAWAY: Getting a job that helps you develop the your skills can be as useful as a degree.
YOU DON’T NECESSARILY NEED TO TAKE OUT AN EXPENSIVE LOAN
Working full time alongside growing my own business on the side meant I didn’t need to take out a business loan, which I believe is a factor that puts many people off starting their own business. Once I had enough clients and income coming in, I took the plunge and quit my full time job to fulfil my dream of having my own business. This is obviously a big risk, and not something that should be considered lightly. But it was also a calculated risk; at the end of the day, luckily, it paid off.
TAKEAWAY: It’s possible to have a full-time job and work on your business idea on the side.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
People often think it’s too difficult to start your own business from scratch, especially without financial help, but if you take the time to acquire the core skills you need, carefully craft a brand image that has a unique selling point and offer a product or service that is in demand, you can succeed. In light of this, here are my tips to successfully start your own business:
– Take the time to craft your brand identity to perfection. As a reflection of your business, if your logo for example looks messy and unprofessional, this is how your company will be perceived.
– Don’t focus on what your competitors are doing. Although it’s good to be aware of them and what they are offering, focus on your unique selling point and build your business around that.
– You will have to sacrifice most of your spare time, if not all of it, in the early days to build your business. But if you really love what you’re doing, this shouldn’t be a chore.
– Self-belief is one of the most important aspects of succeeding. If you don’t think it will work, why would anyone else?
SO… WHAT DOES THE NEXT CHAPTER LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Damteq now employe two members of staff, and I’ve just put a deposit down on a larger office to cater to growth and future goals of the business, which is a very exciting step forward. I also started a second company in September 2013. It’s addictive!
If you’re feeling somewhat inspired, but not quite ready to set up shop as an entrepreneur yourself, why not test the water by working alongside one for a bit?