Starting Your Own Business, by Aaron Etingen, Chairman, The London School of Business & Finance (LSBF)

Every entrepreneur, at some point in their career, will be faced with the same question: how can I be sure it’s the right time to give up the safety of my job and become a full-time entrepreneur?

Making this leap of faith is not a decision to be taken lightly. If your company has reached this stage, it probably means that you are confident about your business model and product. In most cases, the main cause for concern tends to be a business’s financial stability. The big question then becomes, ‘will I be able to maintain my lifestyle? Will I be able to pay the bills?’

Although the current economic instability means that things can change overnight, there are some steps we can all take to ensure that our entrepreneurial ventures are worthwhile.

Planning: If there’s one universal truth in business, it’s that there will be bumps on the road to success. Research is vitally important. Taking risks is essential for the success of any entrepreneur, but being prepared and having a safety net for when things don’t go as planned is the difference between those who make it and those who don’t. Good planning, understanding of your market and a sound development strategy will ensure that even the biggest setback is accompanied by two steps forward.

The people factor: Companies are made of people. The people you choose to have around you will directly affect the success of your business. This is particularly relevant for start-ups as they tend to be short-staffed, with the few people who are there performing business-critical tasks. If you are a one-person-business, you should never be scared to ask for advice. Be open to the thoughts and opinions of anyone who could help you, whether that’s parents, a university lecturer, a friend, a competitor, a service provider, a solicitor or a customer. There will always be  someone out there who knows more about a topic than you do – don’t be shy of asking for their advice, they will probably like it.

Get your numbers right: This is where most first-time entrepreneurs get it wrong. In my last column I said that, as an accountant, you are probably better placed than most when it comes to the financial side of your business. Although securing financing can be daunting, today there is a wide range of funding options available for self-starters. Whether you are securing help from incubators or venture capital, angel investors or crowdsourcing, it’s important to ensure you can cover costs and survive the odd rainy day.

You will never completely eliminate risk – you can research every angle, hire the right people and have a great source of investment, but if the economic scenario changes, or your competitors are quicker to react, it could all be for naught. So perhaps the most important lesson of all is: sooner or later you’ll have to go for it. Don’t be afraid of failure! It’s part of being an entrepreneur, and what’s more it will probably be the source of your most important lessons; not just about business, but also yourself.

Written by Aaron Etingen, Chairman & Founder of the London School of Business & Finance (LSBF)

Biography

Entrepreneur Aaron Etingen, at 40, heads an education-focused business empire. From starting his first business at age 11, to being the youngest person (amongst staff and students) at his own business school at 24, his determination to seek out and grasp opportunities has gone hand-in-hand with his rapid business success. This has seen his empire grow from one room in London to 14 thriving organisations and a presence in every continent across the globe, beginning with the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) in 2003.