Tag Archives: Iraq

Tips for Business Start Ups, Lessons for Life: where’s the pulse of your business?

Alison is struggling with locating the pulse of her new business venture. She’s recently left the armed forces, having spent years on manoeuvres in Afghanistan, Iraq and all points west of insanity. She’s been decommissioned now and returned to Civvy Street harbouring memories of attacking pirates off the coast of Somalia, nursing early morning nightmares of civilians dying feet away in pools of late night blood and the camaraderie of mates she would put her own body and soul on the line for.

Civvy Street is not the same as it was before she signed up and the currency of what she’s gained from the armed forces is having precious little spending power in the bizarre bazaars of urban lite living. She’s perplexed, thwarted and struggling with bringing her business idea out into the open.

She’s looking at it, laying on the slab of the screen of her desktop and wondering what it’s all about. Should it be a commercial operation which makes her a fortune – or a charitable enterprise which speaks to and for the thousand of other Alisons and Alans who are currently wandering their Civvy Streets, armed with skills, knowledge and passion but with nowhere to apply them?

The pulse of a new start up is always hard to detect, swamped as it is by the noise of personal doubt, family expectation and social distraction. But she’ll find it as long as she can just sit alongside it for a while and just listen for it- quietly and intently. No amount of business planning, cash flow projections or social media strategies are going to help here. Only by listening and waiting will she detect the pulse of her business telling her what the next step is and why her business matters and who it’s important for. We’re all hoping she makes the right decision.

Tips for Business Start Ups: 9 questions which will tell you whether to do it or not.

The recession in the UK is generating several bizarre phenomena, not least being the fashion to encourage many more people to start their own businesses irrespective of their abilities, wishes or state of mind.

Many reasons are wheeled out as justifications for this life changing activity: you can be your own boss, you can turn up to work any time you like, you can turn a hobby into an income generator, you can play a game of golf whenever it suits. The fact you may come off the unemployment register is also a bonus to statisticians and politicians, massaging as it does the figures on the unemployment register.

But the notion that setting up a business is a realistic and achievable option for everyone, especially if they have just completed 30 years service for the same employer is a mirage.

Setting up your business isn’t an easy option which you can blithely dive into, with keys to your new premises and golden clock in hand, which will provide you with an easy route out of employment or a bit of diversionary relief to a retirement which is becoming riddled with boredom and inertia.

There are several questions to ask yourself before taking that plunge:

1. Are you prepared to wake up every morning of every day of every week of the year, preoccupied with the challenges you will face that day – and for which you will take the ultimate rap?

2. Are you comfortable with scary levels of risk? The occasional feeling that you are standing on a precipice, not knowing where the next weeks income is going to come from or how you’re going to fend off your increasingly noisy creditors?

3. Do you have any knowledge of the stuff of the business you want to set up? If you want to set up a restaurant for example, do you know anything at all about the restaurant trade apart from knowing what your favourite pizza topping is?

4. Can you add up and / or write in coherent sentences?

5. Are you handling the transition to Internet shopping, e-commerce and social networking with aplomb?

6. If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’, are you bringing in other expertise and voices to your dream which will turn the ‘no’ into a ‘yes’?

7. Is your motivation for setting up a business explained in terms of days off, visits to golf clubs or any other type of diversionary activity?

8. Is this business opportunity you’re dreaming of a great way of getting out of the house and avoiding the imminent marriage disaster you’ve seen coming for years?

9. If the answer to questions 7 and 8 is ‘yes’; and if you answer question 6 with a ‘no’, then stop hallucinating, pack the business plan back in the attic and don’t give up the day job. You will save yourself and your nearest and dearest a whole load of heartbreak – and may even enjoy your retirement to boot.