What entrepreneurs should consider when starting a new venture

Hermione Way, Founder of Newspepper.com; an innovative broadcast production company, socially benefiting the media movers and shakers of tomorrow, is a fine example of an entrepreneur who’s likely to be successful as a result of using common sense to get a start-up off the ground. The problem with most people, is that common sense is the least common attribute that they posses.

Here’s what the Spectator Business Web site has to say about Hermione

At its most basic, Newspepper is a broadcast production company. Dig slightly deeper and you’ll find a company with both social and business aims. Founder Hermione Way started the company because she wanted to create a social enterprise which offered media services at affordable prices, while also being a training hub for students to get paid experience as reporters, camera operators, directors and editors. Newspepper’s clients meanwhile get high-quality video production services at a fraction of the price of a corporate production house. Most of Newspepper’s business comes from entrepreneurs, corporate business, established companies and charities who have all made it, but remember what it was like to be starting out.

As a non-executive director of Newspepper, and mentor to Hermione, I’ve got inside information on both the potential of the company and its founder. I can say with a great deal of confidence, that Hermione will find success in anything she puts her hand to. She has the drive, passion, enthusiasm, self-confidence, determination and importantly, aptitude to be naturally agile when necessary, to make it happen with at least one venture.

Keep the vision, but don’t let it hamper you – be agile

Hermione’s vision of Newspepper has never altered. But like any smart entrepreneur, the way in which she executes her vision has evolved with her changing environment. Her vision of Newspepper was/is an online showcase of new and upcoming journalists. However, that business model alone wouldn’t have generated revenue quick enough to sustain her and the business and had she not been smart enough to offer other services by utilizing the same people and tools, she’d have gone out of business within the first few months. As it happens, she is smart enough.

She (almost immediately) started offering video production services to start ups, networking event organizers and anyone else who wanted a camera crew to capture the moment at low cost. This helped to keep the company afloat as her student loan, used to setup the business, started to run out. Newspepper quickly became the first port of call in its space and it’s now inundated with so much work that Hermione had to hire 2 full time staff just to man the events – along with around 60 cameramen, editors and reporters on the books.

10 tips that entrepreneurs should consider in 2009:

  1. Stay focused on your ultimate goal. Ask yourself, ‘if I only do one thing fantastically well, what would it be?’. How you deliver it can evolve based on money, circumstance and timing etc. – as I explained above.
  2. Build a business that has a revenue model. This will seem like an obvious statement to all seasoned entrepreneurs, but too many widget-like companies are being setup on the premise of making money on something sometime in the future. Unless you’re in full time employment, or independently wealthy and not afraid to lose money, don’t start a company on the premise that you’ll come up with a way to generate revenue.
  3. Work from home – don’t rent an office unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you have a business-to-consumer play, this will never be necessary unless you have a big team who need to be in the same room. Wubud, my latest venture, has a team spread across 5 countries, 3 languages and 2 timezones. Communication is difficult at times, but it’s a price we have to pay in order to keep costs down. Until recently, I ran the entire operation and secured £160k early-stage funding from home. BTW, I’m sub-letting desks in our office on Greek Street, Soho, London. Get in touch if you’d like to rent one – paulatsegaladot.com
  4. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – don’t spend money just because you have it in the bank. Treat it as if you’re never going to generate revenue and assume it will be needed to sustain the business ongoing. Also, don’t build a product just because you can – ensure there’s a market for it and you have the ability to sell it. NB. Twitter clones will quickly go out of fashion in 2009, so be careful if you’re considering a business that relies on Twitter.
  5. Surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you. Admittedly I don’t find this difficult 🙂 Hire the best that stock options can get you. Always aim for the best and if you’re ever ‘unsure’ about a candidate, always assume the answer is no. If you have the cash, then pay to hire the best. You’ll only get one opportunity to execute your idea. Again, Wubud has no full time employees, thereby reducing the risk. All but the designer and application developers are on a promise of stock options. The developers didn’t get paid until we raised early-stage funding so again, there was limited risk to the business. This may prove kinda difficult unless you have a proven track record or a stunning product proposition and ability to sell your passion.
  6. Collaborate with other entrepreneurs – you’ll be amazed by the number of entrepreneurs who are happy to help out colleagues when starting a new business. Don’t be afraid to ask for a free product or service in return for something. This could include brand building, Web design, build, SEO, hosting, accounting package, legal… don’t expect a freebie for the sake of it and always try to offer stuff before asking. This of course, will be more useful if you like to offer help without expecting anything in return.
  7. Cash is king. Monitor absolutely every outgoing line item and forecast for the coming 6 to 12 months based on some of the line items increasing – but try to reduce each one by cutting back until your operation is impacted.
  8. Do your own marketing and PR – every founder is responsible for the selling of their products and services. They’re the ones with the passion and vision to articulate how they’re going to change the world. Don’t hire a PR firm until the time is right – and make sure it’s on a project basis and not retainer – do a launch and post-launch plan. Retainers are okay for established companies looking to raise brand awareness only. Ensure the entire team is aware of the company’s goals and that they are able to articulate it to others. Everyone in the company is responsible for marketing.
  9. Get connected – attend networking events and enjoy yourself. Business is supposed to be fun – in fact, this is probably the most important tip. If it feels like a job and you’re not having fun, give up and try something else – go pick tulips in Amsterdam or something. Networking events are a great way to let your hair down, whilst meeting interesting people within the same industry. If I’m not hosting events and parties, I’m attending them – I never fail to either strengthen relationship and/or meet new interesting people. When networking, the key is to give – connect people who you think will help each other and offer products and services to those you feel need them most. What goes around, comes around. But don’t give to receive.
  10. Aim for, and assume you will achieve mass adoption. Assume you will be the best. Only thinking about the early adopters/tech-savvy folk is certain to keep you in ‘start-up purgatory’. So, get the buzz going on your blog and Twitter etc. But, don’t stop there.

What have I missed? What would you recommend? What mistakes have you made?


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  1. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  People magazine and books » Archive » What entrepreneurs should consider when starting a new venture said...

    […] Original post by Craig Silverman […]


  2. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  hermioneway said...

    Paul’s spot on (and a brill mentor!)…

    In this current economic climate, being flexible is paramount.

    No one can predict what’s going to get investment and what’s not, so being able to use the resources around you and bootstrap will enable you to get through this period of uncertainty and succeed where others fail.

    I use social networks like Facebook and Twitter for free, effective marketing and i keep overheads to a minimum.

    Building strong relationships is important as, one thing i have learnt, is that people do business with people they like;)


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    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Build My Business said...

    Great Post. I am printing this and posting on my board. Check out http://ridgepartners.com/wordpress for some more business tips.


  5. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Sam Tipper said...

    Great advice, kept simple. I can also vouch for miss Way’s talent.


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  16. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Mr Meh said...

    Newspepper have a reputation for exceptionally poor production standards – just look at any of the videos on their website if you don’t believe me. A friend of mine who works for a charity said they actually had to edit the stuff themselves it was so bad. So please stop the nonsense about not having to compromise on quality.


  17. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Hermione Way said...

    Mr Meh,

    I hope you’ll find our production values are increasing all the time- please check out some of out recent work.

    Kindest Regards

    Hermione


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