If you want to launch a business in a new sector, take advice, set objectives and accept the risks.
Share this article
It’s often been said that, to start a business, you need to “do what you know”. Many successful founders and business owners, such as Lord Sugar, are big advocates of this, urging aspiring entrepreneurs to stick to the field they are familiar with. But is this really the best way to achieve true innovation?
In fact, it can be argued that only sticking to what we know won’t lead us to achieve greatness. Take Elon Musk for example - he doesn’t have a history of space travel, yet he is still making great strides toward getting us to Mars.
As Richard Branson once said, if a great opportunity arises but you are not sure if you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later. Risk taking is a crucial part of any successful business and its role in the conception of a new business is no different.
Balance is crucial and, as much as we all need those who play it safe, we also need those who push boundaries in unknown areas and take risks where others might not. Only then will we see and be given the opportunity to be a part of significant development and innovation - changing people’s lives and challenging what we’re capable of.
I know from experience that starting a business in a new field is a scary prospect, but the rewards can be amazing. If I were to give advice to anyone embarking on the same road, the following six tips would be at the top of the list.
Disrupt the traditional way of thinking
There is always another way. Everyone has their own process for doing something, but not all of them can be right. In fact, none of them are probably ‘right’ if they attain the same end result – but some can certainly be more efficient.
If you believe a process can be streamlined, or even that a greater result can be achieved, then figure out how. Naturally it can be hard to change the status quo but being brave and willing to take risks is what will make you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t pretend to know the answer
We all have to start somewhere. You won’t be expected to know everything about running a business or the industry that you are entering into at the drop of a hat.
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the answer and pretending you do could put you in a difficult situation – perhaps not immediately but certainly in the future.
Our increasingly digital world means that everything is moving at 100 miles an hour, whether that’s changes to regulations, customer demands, the political environment or available resources.
Keeping on top of that change is a huge challenge so ask questions and look to others for advice and above all, be willing to use and learn from the tools available.
Stay ahead of the curve
Seeking help from experts in your new field will be essential to your success – but seeking advice and acting on it are two different things.
For example, many believe that securing venture capitalist funding is a priority for any new business – but that’s not necessarily the case; it’s just one of the many options available to you.
It’s important you listen to and consider others’ advice, but what’s crucial is that you trust your own instinct and choose the right option for you. No one will ever achieve true innovation by following someone else’s formula.
Think out of the box hiring
Once your business gets its feet off the ground, chances are you are going to need more hands on deck. Recruiting can be a hard slog and expensive, so don’t make it harder on yourself by narrowing your options - remember that an Oxbridge degree and impressive qualifications aren’t the be all and end all.
Spread the net wider and extend the opportunity to those that can offer more than simply good grades – loyalty, passion and drive go a long way in any business.
Don’t be afraid to change course
Everything around us is constantly changing, from market conditions and consumer demand, to quick paced developments in technology. With so much shift in working conditions, no business will ever stay the same.
Sometimes a small tweak to the business trajectory will be enough to keep up, but at other times, a bigger adjustment will be necessary. Whatever the scenario, with the right skills and staff, you shouldn’t be afraid to change tack; it simply comes part and parcel of owning a business and working in any new field.
Set ambitious goals
Whatever field someone decides to pursue, new or old, everyone has the potential to achieve their best possible potential - but only if working toward the right goals. Granted, setting attainable goals can be rewarding when achieved, but it’s the ambitious goals we set ourselves and work towards that will drive us forward to reach our true potential.
Although not always attainable, we will move much further toward achieving our highest possible goals when we are reaching for them, than if we were are only striving for sub-par goals.
Ultimately, there is no one key to starting your own business, especially in a field that you aren’t familiar with – it will always be a challenge. But learning to take risks and advice from others and setting ambitious objectives will do very well in setting you on the right path to achieving true innovation.