PUBLISHED: 06:25 18 August 2014
When you set up your own business, you’ll discover very quickly that it isn’t just about having a good business idea. You’ve left behind the support and friendship of colleagues in your old workplace; you’re on your own. So you need to surround yourself with like-minded people in your new environment. How can you do this?
1 Join a business hub. In Norwich and across the county there are flexible arrangements from hot-desking through to leasing a small office or industrial unit. There are also sector-specific hubs, such as Hethel Engineering Centre, where people in engineering and manufacturing can work, exchange ideas and share their knowledge and experience; Norwich Research Park, with office and laboratory facilities for science and technology businesses; and the Rural Enterprise Hub, which co-ordinates Easton and Otley College’s business support activities.
The great advantage of joining a hub, whether you’re there full-time or just dropping in from time to time, is that you become part of a ready-made business community. You’ll find opportunities to collaborate and keep up to speed with your business sector in ways that would be impossible if you’d stayed at home.
2 Network at every opportunity. Like the hubs, there are networks dedicated to a particular sector (such as Norwich’s Hot Source for the digital industries) or serving a geographical area, such as the local chambers of commerce.
Most successful entrepreneurs say that networking is the most important thing you can do to help your business get off the ground and grow. James Caan, chairman of the Start Up Loans Company, says: “Network with like-minded professionals.” This helped him when launching his company. He asked people who ran their own firms in his sector about the various issues facing their businesses, as well as their processes and procedures.
James Eder, co-founder of the lifestyle website Studentbeans, agrees: “Access people rather than pounds. What you really need to start or develop a business is access to people, relationships and strategic networks.” By meeting, speaking and listening to those who have “been there and done it”, he says, you’ll gain the knowledge and support to help you establish your own business.
3 Find a mentor. Seventy percent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, double the survival rate of non-mentored entrepreneurs, so a mentor is invaluable as a trusted confidante over a long period of time. According to a recent survey, accountants are the most trusted source of mentoring advice. There are many sources of mentors around the county, such as Norfolk Knowledge, led by Norwich Business School (University of East Anglia) and supported by Norfolk County Council, which brings experienced business people together with small businesses and voluntary organisations based in Norfolk.
Please note that this article is provided for your information only. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, information contained herein may not be comprehensive and you should not act upon it without seeking professional advice. Contact Murray Graham on 01603 663300.