If you’re a budding business on the British or Irish financial market and you’re just striving to make it or at least, for the time being, to remain in the game, then you know that the guide articles and the tips which apply to the American economy don’t really apply in our business environment as well. It’s easy to find good and compelling business advice online, which is actually one of the best things about the maturing of the whole internet revolution which started 20 years ago; it’s a sign that things are really rounding up into a well-leveled and diverse community that actually shares information more and more complex and valuable. The same kind of revolution is taking place as we speak in the field of technology, which means the field of business itself is about to undergo a major revolution, not only in regards of what products we will market and sell, but also in regards of how the sales will be made, how different pieces of the puzzle will be connected and so on. Just think of how the new Bitcoin currency and its free transaction system have already started to leave their mark on the business world, for example (whether you’re a supporter of this initiative or not). Read on for more startup tips…
Our point is that the world of business is overall on the brink of some great global opportunities which are getting riper and riper for a mid-term plan henceforth, but part of being able to seize opportunities in the best way possible and to grow in a way which is healthy all around resides in how tightly knit your business environment is. Small companies and especially startups that are in the most delicate timeline of their existence need to be part of this larger business community in order to interconnect, to find out opportunities and pursue them together towards the greater end. Even though there are voices that say that professional networking is overrated, this is truer on the individual side (when a person is looking for a job) than it is when we’re talking about small companies.
Besides networking, a blooming startup also needs access to good counseling tools and for their managers to keep themselves informed and up to speed with what the authoritative voices in the field are saying overall. But this is hard to achieve when so much of the internet’s creative flow and huge potential for intelligent debate are channeled towards the U.S. scene and though some parts of the advice can apply to European small businesses as well, it’s not that effective really considering the impending differences between the two environments. This is why we’ve decided to take a step towards making this better, by comprising the best advices we’ve encountered for British and Irish small companies into a mid-length piece about how to become better in the business, with a special focus on what we deem to be essential, namely on networking.
Startup Tips: Why Is Networking Important in the UK?
Despite what critical voices say, we can argue that networking is still a major game-changer in business everywhere, not just in the UK, but here is one of the few places where this business tool isn’t getting the promotion it deserves. While networking certainly happens and seals a lot of deals in the UK business market as well, special networking events and extensive magazine pieces on how to become more efficient at it have just started to appear lately, and they’re still nowhere near the grand status which networking enjoys in the American business field. Over the ocean, the idea that entrepreneurs need to come together and share stories and experience and present opportunities to each other is much more wide-spread and unquestionable, while over here, when such actions do take place, they tend to do so more likely in an informal context and therefore at a smaller scale.
This is partly explainable through the fact that the British market is, of course, much smaller than the American one, thus allowing some of the actors to connect informally easier, as part of a “global village” type of community. But this is obviously not the sole explanation for the diminished praise which networking gets here compared to the cult status it benefits from on the other side of the ocean. If we want to truly become internationally competitive, it’s time to change that, which is why networking should be all the more important here and now, in the present UK business scene.
8 Tips for British and Irish Start-ups
Depending on your area of activity, not all of the following tips may apply to you, but most of them will surely make you see the way to approach business at least a little bit differently.
- Don’t be afraid of competition – This preconceived notion about competition is perhaps the most harmful idea still around from an age in which blueprints were stolen and you had to kick your competitors in the back in order to achieve anything. Nowadays, the competition is for various resources (including customers), but definitely not about information anymore (not that it had ever should have been about that in the first place). The more you share your knowledge and put together inspirational resources, the more the community and the ties among its members will grow, to the personal growth of all the involved micro businesses in it. This is why deepening the web content for this particular side of the business world (the UK and Ireland) should be one of our main priorities for the future.
- Don’t neglect the European market – It’s true that the web scene for business tips and resources should be a bit more focused on the local market, but that doesn’t mean the insular mind frame should continue to play a part in the strategy making of any UK-based businessman (or businesswoman). Having this notion that we are somehow apart and separate from the rest of the continent didn’t do us much good in the past, and though it did lead to some economic advantages, arguably (like the fact that keeping the pound led us to not be hit as hard as the EURO currency has been in the last few years), it’s not a strategy to keep in mind when expanding your business and growing is what you have in mind. After you secure a relatively decent foothold internally, in the UK and Irish markets, don’t hesitate to expand your services to our European neighbors – there are still some regulatory advantages we share that make it easier to expand on this market than on others far away, and the client profiles are so similar that your business is bound to bloom once you take that step.
- Try to strengthen the UK-Irish bonds on the greater business market – Still, do you know what even easier, paperwork-wise, than collaborations and interconnections between the UK market and European markets? That’s right, the connections and collaborations between various actors within the UK and Irish business scenes. Therefore, think big(ger) and don’t neglect considering what goes on the other side of the border whenever you’re on the brink of taking a business decision to help your startup advance towards its small and middle term goals. Since the two countries and markets are already very intertwined, the facilities for these kinds of transactions can make your life easier and also serve as a “practice-level” expansion.
- Think of going global – The world is comprised of much, much more than just the UK and Irish business scene, and this should be definitely taken into account when considering your future business strategy. It’s not something to postpone for the too far future though, since it’s not as risky as you fear and it may very well be that this precise move is what will help your company lift off from the ground level. Selling overseas is one of the best things you can do for your business, so stop postponing it.
- Maintain real / intensive contact with your clients and potential clients – Exquisite client care is one of the single advantages which a small company can have over a large corporate establishment. The humane and kind way in which you treat every client, the amount of time and patience you have with them, as well as how much you succeed in giving them the impression that you’re going out of your way to secure their satisfaction – these are all factors that make a client become a loyal regular for any of your offers. But to take this simple truth one step further and help this personal availability of your startup take it one step further the business edge you’re eyeing, you need to think ahead to the wishes of target clients. Order some qualitative research studies (even if you hear the misconception that quantitative studies tell you more) and you will know how to anticipate desires and attract the customers you don’t have yet. Don’t rely on hunches.
- Get an expert IT team to help you personalize your web interface – Of course, we’re not talking about personalizing your website to your company’s profile and not even to the personal preferences of important customers. We’re talking about using advanced web tools to make your website local for the various markets in which you’re trading (UK, Ireland, perhaps USA and then further), with all the intricate connections this implies (banking connections, postal connections and so on). It’s not like you have to invest in making an actual headquarters someplace else. All you need to do it have the website available in the local markets of the countries you’d like to receive orders from (and also to advertise the website through the local channels), and then just step back and watch the orders pour in. It’s on the plus-side of the whole globalization process.
- Don’t be afraid of non-conventional pathways – According to a Sage study published in 2014, it turns out that 25% of all British entrepreneurs didn’t wait until 18 to leave school and focus on coming up with an idea for a startup. A quarter of all the businesspeople in the country, therefore, were high school drop-outs that decided at 16 years old that formal education can’t really offer them as much as life experience could, and it turns out that for a large number of them, the dreams actually did came true. We’re by no means bashing formal education here, but we’re just saying that if a pathway is usually frowned upon, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t lead you where you want to get.
- No capital doesn’t mean the entry on the scene is barred – If you have a great idea, but lack the funds to invest in it yourself, don’t worry (so much). First of all, you can focus on ways to start your business activity without needing much investing, and second of all, this is precisely where networking opportunities come in. Attend conferences and events focusing on encouraging the micro business scene and there will typically be chances to present your idea to groups of investors and perhaps come back home with a new business partner for the long term.
For Ireland-based startups, be sure not to miss the grand StartUp Gathering event which will debut on October 5th 2015. Entrepreneurs and small companies all over the country and beyond will round up to present their ideas to an audience of over 15,000 people and this chance to shine can do so much for your business that it would really be a shame to miss it. It will feature over 50 separate events (not just in Dublin) and also a national “Startup Demo Day” where you’ll get the chance to pitch your idea to top investors looking for great things to finance. This will be the first ever national event focusing on startups in Ireland, not to mention that its scale is going to make it enviable to any kind of business sector, beyond startups or micro scale companies.
For the UK business scene, make sure you don’t miss the talks given by the Kent Event Center (on the 20th of October 2015) or the Campus London events which take place there almost every week (check their timetable here).