There’s a long list of things to think about when setting out in business. From coming up with an idea to business planning to fundraising and more, the process can seem overwhelming and complicated.
Deirdre Mc Gettrick is the founder of ufurnish.com, an innovative, market-leading search engine, reinventing the way furniture and furnishings is searched, discovered, compared and shopped online. With a vast array of expert interior knowledge, Deirdre also co-hosts her own podcast, The DNA of Home Interiors, empowering people to make confident interior design decisions for their home and demystifying the interior design process. We asked Deirdre to share her insight into what she wished she’d have known, before starting up her own business.
Pick a great business partner
Going it alone is much tougher than sharing the highs and lows with someone else. Not only will a partner give a second viewpoint for critical decisions, but you can also share dreams and frustrations freely with someone who truly understands the journey. You need to find someone who believes in the business as passionately as you do and share the belief it will succeed. Having a business partner with a different background and skill set is great as you can often share different opinions and learn from each other. Having two different outlooks means you will often experience lows at different times so the other will always there to pick you up if you need it.
Everything takes longer than you think
From the first idea to the execution and all the steps in between, double or triple the amount of time you think it will take. When evaluating a timescale, try and use any insights from previous tasks to analyze possible set-backs. Anticipate what could go wrong and have a plan B ready. The most important thing is building your past experiences into future task timeframes to reduce uncertainty.
Network! Network! Network!
Talk to as many people as possible. Immerse yourself in their experiences and learn from their challenges and mistakes along the way but also their successes. Ask them every question you need an answer to, the more opinions you get, the better. Ask them even more questions if they challenge your business model, their perceived criticism is likely the most valuable feedback you can get and hopefully will give you some additional business insights or even opportunities. Do not be afraid to reach out to people you may not know, the worst that can happen is that they say no or you don’t hear back from them. If you ask enough people, you won’t even remember that some haven’t come back to you!
There are no shortcuts, no one will do it for you
These are two misconceptions you’ll often hear. Have you ever heard someone ask “Did you hear that X company grew into a unicorn overnight?” The reality is that the ‘overnight success’ actually took years to build but often people only see the visible part rather than the time spent building the foundations. Think of it like an iceberg, only a small percentage is visible above the water. The second part of this misconception is that people put their belief in others to make their business dream a reality. “If only I could get on X incubator or get Y as an investor, my business will be a success”. While there is no doubt that certain incubators or investors can be extremely helpful, they won’t be a magical solution. You need to be the driving force to make your business the success you believe it can be.
Get used to rejection, build your resilience
Does anyone remember the song by Tubthumping (I get knocked down, but I get up again…)? You are going to hear ‘No’ a lot more than you will hear ‘Yes’ in the early days. Do not take it personally, everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s not a personal attack (even though it may sometimes feel like it). Every time it happens, dust yourself off and get back up and running. Take any lessons from the rejection, could I have approached it differently or phrased it in another way. If I had to face the same challenge again, what would I change? All experiences in life, both good and bad, give you the opportunity to grow stronger and become better so always ensure you move forward with more wisdom.