After a very busy period planning for a major consumer show at the NEC and other important activities, I was looking forward to a few quieter days in the office, whilst Tony, my production guy come right hand, was fulfilling weekly orders and perfecting the new product to send samples of later on this week.
However... best laid plans. A large order arrived today marked URGENT and I need to drop what I’m doing yet again and come to the rescue.
My customers come first. But the stuff I need to do this week is strategic stuff, things that move the business forward. I’m torn and, quite frankly, I’m tired. If I don’t come to the rescue the orders won’t be complete in time and, if I do, then I have to work all hours to do the strategic stuff in the night. And to make matters worse, Tony in production told me ages ago that he needed two days off this week.
You may think that this is partly due to bad planning on the production side and that I should hold stock. However, our products are chilled, with no preservatives, and have a short shelf life (30 days from production), so I need to produce and ship quickly so the distributors and the shops get products with a decent shelf life.
It looks like I’m up until 2am again working for a few days! Oh well, I don’t mind, it’s a super exciting time and being stretched to fulfil orders is a nice problem to have. I just have to make sure I do the strategic stuff as well so that I am working on my business as well as in it!
You can find out more about Marcela on the new interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com
I set up my first business during the recession of 1990. At the time I was given some great advice, though initially I didn’t fully appreciate its value. I thought it might be useful, given the current economic climate, to pass this advice along…
“If you enjoy something and are good at it, don’t go into business to do it. Go into business so that you can do the thing you enjoy and are good at.”
It took me a while to figure out the gem of wisdom here. Excited as I was to be setting up my own business, and taking control of my own destiny; what was motivating me was that I would be doing something I enjoyed and felt I was good at. The problem with this is that it puts the “going into business” aspect of your new venture into second place. Whereas it should come first.
You may be a good web designer, or chiropractor, or recruitment consultant, or even helicopter pilot. But if you are not prepared to be a good business person, you best stay on someone else’s pay-roll. Or if no one is prepared to pay you to be a web designer, chiropractor etc keep these skills as a hobby.
You need to be thinking “I am going into business and will be a business person first.” A by-product of your business is that you get to do something that you enjoy. If you do not focus on being a business person first: areas such as cash-flow, sales, market research, administration etc. are likely to come second to the delivery of your product or service. And those wrong priorities can easily lead to business failure.
Now, I am sure that you are a good web designer, or chiropractor, or recruitment consultant, or even helicopter pilot – but what makes you think you are a good business person?
Such a big part of growing a successful business is ensuring that you’re always thinking of new ideas or making improvements to your current business. But as many small business owners know, coming up with a great idea is easier said than done. If you’re someone who struggles with creativity or can’t easily prompt a brain wave, watch this show to get ideas from a brand which is growing rapidly and improving constantly.
A popular method of tracking and recording ideas is to write them down – or to “always have a notebook with you”. Tell us, when (and where) do your best ideas come to you?
You're probably reading this blog because you are in the process of starting up a new business or you've got a great business idea that you want to develop and launch.
First of all, congratulations! It's a great feeling when you make that decision to start a new business. And if you’ve never done this before, you're at the beginning of a very exciting journey.
Now for the bad news. If you've just come up with a great idea and are now rushing to get it to market, you've probably got a really serious problem. And that problem is that your idea is quite likely to be fundamentally flawed. Or to put it another way, it's likely to go really badly wrong and it's probably not going to work.
I know that doesn't sound very encouraging, but before you rush off into the distance and start investing a lot of time and money into implementing your idea, you need to do something very important indeed...
You need to challenge it.
You need to look at your idea from different perspectives. You need to put yourself in the shoes of potential customers. You need to put on Edward DeBono’s black hat and challenge your idea seriously. While all of this may sound terribly negative and destructive, it's really important that you take this advice on board. So many businesses are launched with insufficient planning, insufficient testing, not enough feedback from people and poor advice.
If you actively approach your idea from a balanced and objective point of view, where you've considered the huge upsides as well as any potential downside which exists, then you'll be in a much better position to get it right.
Like with anything, starting up a business takes patience and a whole lot of learning. Market conditions change so quickly that you need to always approach you business holistically, and be willing to take advice on board. With those things in mind, it seems like you’re half way there having found this Donut!
Not a particularly cheery headline for a business startup blog, but it's an interesting observation which we can all learn from.
Richard Reed is co-founder of Innocent Drinks, a very successful business which brings fresh, tasty smoothies (and food products as it turns out) to a health conscious market in the UK, and now further afield. I interviewed Richard yesterday for yourBusinessChannel's latest series on business startups.
It was a refreshingly straight-forward interview. No business jargon. No pretence. No corporate positioning. I asked pretty straight-forward questions, and Richard gave pretty straight-forward answers. You see, one of the things that has clearly driven the success of Innocent Drinks is that they are honest and uncomplicated in the way that they talk about their business. They call it "innocent" language. And the language reflects their way of doing business - which is also said to be "innocent" in all respects.
Anyway, we spoke at some length about starting up a business, having great business ideas and such like. And during this refreshingly honest conversation, Richard said that when you have refined your entrepreneurial idea - the idea which will be the driving force behind your new startup business - be prepared for hundreds of people to tell you your idea isn't going to work. That's right. They're going to try to dissuade you.
Richard's advice? Be ready for people to try to shoot your idea down, but if you truly believe in it, don't listen to them. Keep going, and make your idea come to life.
Oh, and for anyone who feels a bit squeemish about Coke buying into Innocent, I asked Richard about that and got a very interesting reply, which we'll publish soon.