From the top · 25 November 2015

James Caan’s seven-day startup guide: Day seven – Pulling it all together

James Caan has now guided us through his seven days of starting up
James Caan has now guided us through his seven days of starting up

We’ve arrived at our destination: the final step in our startup series. By now you should be feeling confident that you’ve established an exciting and viable business idea and are on the right track towards starting up successfully.

So far, we’ve managed to briefly cover off the “five firsts”: you have an idea that solves an recognised problem in the market; you’ve identified your target audience and are well aware of customer trends and behaviours; you’ve decided on your price tag after analysing the market; you understand the importance of building the right team; alternative finance options have been researched; and you, potentially, are in launch process and have devised a strategic marketing and branding plan to really get your name out there.

Reading back, that’s a lot of knowledge to digest within a week! This is a time to remember we’re just scratching the surface here and reaching the end of our series doesn’t mean the hard work stops. In fact, if anything, it multiplies.

At this point in your journey it’s time to look at everything you’ve learnt and use those experiences to your advantage. Create a mental checklist by going through every process with a fine-tooth comb – limit your chances of future hiccups by making sure everything is in order and you’ve saturated every avenue.

Make sure that in the first few weeks you are still sticking to the core questions you’ve already asked yourself. Don’t become complacent – you need to be asking yourself twice as many questions, double-checking every aspect as you go along. Can I improve my orders? What feedback are my customers giving me? Who can help me – who do I need to bring in? Am I keeping a vigilant eye on all my costs – can I save money anywhere? What are my competitors doing that I’m not? How can I continue innovating?

What can I do better?

These questions are vital throughout your whole business journey but are particularly useful in the first few baby steps.

Starting a business inspires a mix of different emotions; apprehension, excitement, anxiety, passion and an addictive sense of freedom. At the moment, you should be feeling mostly excitement because you are literally about to change your life. However, every entrepreneur inevitably experiences a few stumbles along the way and, unless you recognise the characteristics and learn to approach them the right way, lots of entrepreneurs are put off by this.

Never be afraid to fail. For some reason, British entrepreneurs are so obsessed with avoiding failure and avoiding mistakes when in actuality, every successful entrepreneur you’ll ever meet will tell you these helped shape their future.

How do you expect to adapt and better your business if you can’t learn from past experiences? It is essential you let go of this innate fear of failure and embrace it. Following my startup guide doesn’t mean you’ll avoid experiencing failure, but it will mean skip past silly, avoidable mistakes.

You’re an entrepreneur – own that. Aim to answer every difficult question by facing them headfirst, learn from the feedback, and learn how to feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations – that’s the sign of a great entrepreneur.

Remember; there is no right or wrong in a moment of chance – but taking one is always a step forward, so you’re definitely on the right track.

My startup journey with you, BusinessAdvice readers, has now come to an end – but I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve had to say over the last six weeks.

And remember, if you have any specific questions for me then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the Business Advice editorial team.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Renowned investor and business builder James Caan is currently the founder and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw, a firm specialising in buyouts, venture capital, turnarounds and real estate investments. Prior to that, he was one of the longest-running investors on BBC television show Dragons’ Den, founded and exited recruitment business Alexander Mann and was the chairman of the government’s Start Up Loans initiative. His efforts were recognised when he was awarded a CBE for services to entrepreneurship and charitable services through the James Caan Foundation.

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