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Top Ten Tips for Starting a New Business: Interview With Brad Rosser

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 13 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Top Ten Tips For Starting A New Business: Interview With Brad Rosser

When 1 in 4 businesses fail in their 1st year, and only 20 per cent make it through to year six, some good practical advice is needed.

It's true, there are lots of pitfalls that can get in the way but building a successful business is achievable. Brad Rosser is a serial entrepreneur and has just released a new book for start up businesses including his own set of rules that all successful businesses adhere to. We spoke to Brad Rosser and got some tips for starting a new business:

Your business idea must be bullet proof

Your first port of call is your idea. It doesn't have to be unique, it does have to be commercial. Poor, non-commercial ideas will fail however well you execute them. So your first job is to make sure your idea is bullet proof. Make sure you think through your idea carefully and always be on the look out for ways to improve it.

Don’t wait for the perfect anything

You don't always have enough time and money to get spot on pitches. You'll never know if something is actually perfect unless you try it out on real people, so try to get your offer as good as you can as soon as you can, then test your product in a live sales environment. Refine it and adapt it when you start getting customer feedback, then try again. Once you're confident that you have something that will work, that's when you spend as much money as you have available to generate sales.

Wasting money in a start-up is a crime

Make sure you only spend your money on the front end of your business, i.e. those things that get people through the door and achieve sales. This includes your product and any sales and marketing initiatives such as advertising, brochures and press. At this stage, sales and customers come before everything else. Don't waste money on things you don't (and may never) need at the back end of the business like computer systems, elaborate till systems or financial packages. Only spend money on these when customers are being impacted negatively.

Prepare for battle

Successful entrepreneurs like to pretend that their success is down to personal brilliance and an innate ability to see the future. It isn't. Successful entrepreneurs devote a large amount of time to hard thinking and careful preparation. You must too.

Use PR to build Credibility

When you're starting out, all you have is an idea but you have to open doors and convince people to do things for you. You will only be able to achieve this if you have credibility. People must believe that you can do what you are promising, otherwise you are just wasting their time and money. One of the things that I learned at Virgin was that positive PR is one of the most effective ways to build credibility quickly. And the great thing is - it's free. Learn a few simple tactics and you will be reading about your business in the papers in no time.

Everything is a negotiation

A business start-up is simply a series of deals with suppliers, employees and partners.If you can't negotiate, you will fail. So you'd better learn fast! Once again, preparation is critical: what do you want? What do they want? And what is the point at which you should walk away? Throw in some tactics and you should come out with what you want.

Getting funding for your business is not just about getting your hands on any cash you can.All businesses need funding to get started, but that doesn't mean you have to take the first offer you get. If you want to get it right first time, try to secure the right level of funding at the best possible price and keep the necessary flexibility a start-up requires.

Cash is king!

It might sound like a cliché, but this must be your mantra if your business is to succeed. It doesn't matter how much profit your accounts say you have made, unless you have cash in the bank, you cannot pay your suppliers and employees. You need to keep looking for ways to preserve the little cash you have to achieve incremental sales, to get paid faster and to be able to pay yourself later.

Don’t waste time trying to build a brand at the beginning.

Don't waste cash attempting to build a brand from day one. Instead, you must focus on driving sales and meeting customers' expectations. If your start-up delivers on its promise in the early years, the brand will take care of itself. I always develop a brand on a shoestring - business name, website, PowerPoint presentation and some business cards. These things will enable you to hoover up the goodwill you create and ultimately develop a valuable brand that costs you almost nothing in the early days.

Recognise when it’s time to shoot the entrepreneur

There comes a time when you are no longer needed - you have to walk away. The good news is that you'll be able to cash in. The trick is to be able to tell when the time is right, remove your self elegantly and sell the business.

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