In 2006 I left a well-paid, secure job in the insurance industry to go it alone, and I’ve never looked back.
I sold my shares in the company earlier this year and am now focusing my attention on helping budding entrepreneurs – I’m also a member of the Welsh Government’s entrepreneurship panel.
Here are my five top tips for taking the plunge:
(1) What’s the worst that could happen?
Think, if your business doesn’t work, what would the consequences be for you?
If you’re leaving a secure job, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a strong enough background and CV to get another job, so it’s not too risky.
On the other hand, if you are investing your house and every penny you’ve got into this business idea, consider it carefully. Make sure you have got a product or service that will work otherwise you are risking everything on one idea. That is a big risk to take, and that shouldn’t be done lightly.
(2) Don’t over analyse it too much
I have a saying that I use a lot when talking about starting a business: “Sometimes you’ve got to just strap your balls on and go for it.” And that is exactly what you have to do.
The more you think about the risks and the potential for failure the less likely you are to do it. If you’ve done your homework and you have a product or service that customers want, then you have a viable business.
Once you’ve made the decision to do it, go for it and don’t look back.
(3) Use your contacts
Surround yourself with good people, get that little black book out and use your contacts.
Use your family, friends, neighbours, absolutely any contacts you have and ask them for favours. Use them for referrals, introductions and advice.
I used every contact I had when I started GoCompare. They knew me, trusted me and helped me. You should do the same.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and accept help when it’s offered. Many people have been in the same boat as you and want to see you succeed.
(4) Be realistic about your workload
Starting a new business is one of the most challenging things you can do. It takes a lot of hard work, time and effort to make it successful, so put everything else on hold.
Tell your family and friends that for the next few years you are going to have to concentrate full time on building up your business. That might mean that you miss a night out with the lads, or that you can’t go to that Christmas concert, but you are doing it for a good reason which will pay dividends in the end.
There is a great saying that entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. It is so true – you must be prepared to work your guts out.
(5) Have a goal
It’s going to be a lot of hard work, so reward yourself.
Might sound silly, but it works. When I was growing up I always wanted a red Ferrari, and I remember saying to my mother that one day I’d have one, so that’s what I worked towards every day, that was my end goal.
Work out what your red Ferrari is and when you’ve achieved one of your key goals or reached a significant moment, give yourself a pat on the back and reward yourself.
Whether it’s a meal out with the family, a new handbag or a bit of tech – you’ve done well, you’ve achieved what you set out to do, so you deserve a reward.
Hayley Parsons is the founder and former CEO of Gocompare.com and is a member of the Welsh Government’s entrepreneurship panel.
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