There’s been a flurry of government announcements recently, highlighting how startups and innovative companies can transform the economy and help move the UK out of recession. According to government research 1 in 3 of those who want to go into business hold back from launching a new venture due to fear of it failing.
What these would-be entrepreneurs need are the skills, advice and encouragement to both take the leap and to then grow their businesses. And that is exactly what Startup Masterclass aims to provide!
The regional launch event in Norfolk provided a heartening indication of the county’s innovation potential. An audience of over 50 startups and business leaders gathered at the Hethel Engineering Centre to share their experiences and learn from a panel of four entrepreneurs, chaired by the EDP’s Busines Editor Shaun Lowthorpe.
The evening focused on Stories from the Startup Jungle and Ian Doughty of StructureFlex, Andy Fisher of iPatter, Thomas Haizel from Anglia DNA Services and Tom Wood from Foolproof discussed what they’d learnt building their own businesses and shared advice for would-be entrepreneurs.
Some of the key points raised were:
- Innovation is about identifying a better, faster or cheaper way to solve a problem. It is not always about new technology or IP.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and build a complementary team to give 360 degree coverage
- Think about who your customers will be, and then listen to them to validate your business idea.
- Believe in your idea – think ‘What is the wrong I’m going to right?’ before starting. Don’t be afraid to project yourself as bigger than you are.(But don’t lie either!)
- Have a business plan, but be flexible and willing to change it as your company develops
- Always be aware of cashflow and profitablity. Otherwise you may not see impending dangers that can mean the end for your project.
- Use different funding sources out there, particularly funding opportunities such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme which make it attractive for people to invest in your business
- Seek out and build relationships with mentors, who can provide essential expertise and advice in the critical early stages.
- After you start obtaining your first successes, don’t lose sight of your original mission, vision and goals. And keep transmitting these to the rest of the team.
What was particularly heartening was to see the breadth of attendees. From biotech through engineering to creative, internet and gaming businesses, there was a real spread of ideas and companies. This certainly confirmed the huge potential for creating innovative businesses in Norfolk, which many believe is largely untapped.
Following the launch the programme moves into providing advice and mentoring in specific areas, covering a wide range of topics from building a team to protecting intellectual property.
The next event will explore the problem of how to validate you business idea, and how to identify your target customers. The event will be hosted on Monday Dec 12th at John Innes Centre and the speaker will be Antony Howell (Active Technologies). To sign up to the next event, or just to find out more, simply go to the Norwich events page.