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It Takes a Village to Build a Business

It Takes a Village to Build a Business

For many, entrepreneurialism is one of life’s great challenges and rewards. However, this excitingly arduous journey of successes and failures can often be a lonely one. An idea is cultivated in one’s mind over months (if not years) before pen is put to paper in some form, and the ensuing long hours spent full of plans, prototypes and pitch decks are often spent individually, culminating in introspection and self-improvement through which a founder’s personality will grow alongside that of their business.

However, the irony of the road to delivering a solution to the world in some form is that it will generally throw up more questions than answers, most of which will be unfamiliar to entrepreneurs (bar those who’ve had the pleasure of a prior venture). Should I try to grow organically or take investment? Should I expand my production ahead of demand or should I let the order book fill first? Which market or feature should I focus on initially? (As an aside, the answer to the latter is usually a solitary ‘1’: capture your domestic market before moving elsewhere; refine one feature before moving to the next.)

Despite the variety of sources and paths trodden, the response given to supporters, inquisitors or would-be-adventurers by those who’ve accomplished their commercial expedition is often the same, being to surround yourself with those who will advance you and your business without taking away from your journey. However, this is no easy feat – time is very much money and finding the right inputs can be an intensive task which requires social dexterity and much networking. The key, we are told, is to focus on those who have knowledge of your industry and can give you specific and relevant feedback on the issues that are intrinsic to your business. For example, the extent to which an ecommerce director can advise on the growth of a software-as-a-service business will be limited. Similarly, an app creator, seemingly someone helpful to digitise a traditional bricks and mortar business, will offer a method of advancing an offline revenue stream, but not necessarily the right one.

Equally, successful entrepreneurs often counsel to find good commercial advisers early, having learnt the lesson that it is far cheaper to get advice in the present then to try to fix it in the future when revenue is reaching healthier levels. Those able to advise you on navigating the pitfalls of Business Asset Disposal Relief (previously Entrepreneurs’ relief), capital gains tax, R&D credits and EIS/SEIS schemes are especially vital. Your peers and network will be invaluable in this regard – ask those around you who they’ve used and what they’ve thought. Some of the best competitors lean on each other.

Ultimately, a fine balance is required in spending enough time to vet such persons prior to a meaningful relationship without losing time in dead-ends, but success in collecting a series of mentors, colleagues and councillors along your journey can quickly transform a barren landscape into a fruitful one.

About the author

Columban Young-Smith
Columban Young-Smith

Columban Young-Smith

Solicitor

Corporate & Commercial

For more information, contact Columban Young-Smith or any member of the Corporate & Commercial team on +44 131 240 0729.