We often think of entrepreneurialism as a solo endeavour, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many successful partnerships – or bigger groups – launch and run businesses. However, as with anything in business, relationships are key and working with others inevitably adds another dimension to be considered and nurtured as you build and grow. The Entrepreneur Handbook has a useful article covering what they see as the three main things to consider when looking for a business partner.
It’s an essential read if you’re starting a journey of discovery for the perfect partner.
A regular feature in Streamlion’s blog, the best business ideas are out for 2021. Published by Startups.co.uk they are definitely of a slightly different ilk than before with, as you might expect, a heavy influence from tech, virtual and….. dogs.
These, though, are the trends of lockdown Britain. We’re now used to operating in an online world (although the first idea on the list takes this to a new extreme….) and, apparently, a massive number of us took on a dog for the first time and now need support.
At Streamlion, we can really identify with number 8 on this list: localisation. We’ve seen a huge increase in small, local businesses – lots of them in the catering space – making the most of people’s movements being restricted.
Depending on who’s blog you read, there are between 5 and 15 ‘characteristics’ that are typical of entrepreneurs. It’s generally agreed, though, that you need to be in possession of an idea.
Entrepreneurs are often serial ‘ideas people’. They love chasing success; the adrenalin that comes with trying something new, and making it work. They aren’t always as interested in the day-to-day grind that follows an initial launch and which builds a business into a stable and scalable opportunity.
Elon Musk is known for courting controversy. He recently made an interesting statement on Twitter which said “I don’t want to be the CEO of anything.”
This is probably the typical thought process of an entrepreneur: a risk-taking, high-octane, already thinking about the next idea type of person who ended up running a business because he was the one with the idea. He qualifies his message later by describing his role at Tesla; “I rather hate it and I would much prefer to spend my time on design and engineering.”
Time to check in on the real world though. If your idea is the next Tesla, you might get away with moving on and leaving the hard work to someone else. Most of the time though, even the most popular ideas need some vision, grit and determination to get off the ground and become a going concern. Worth considering when you’re planning your entrepreneurial journey, don’t you think?
With economic news veering from recession to opportunity, it’s clear that exiting a global pandemic doesn’t happen very often. The difference between this and any other period of recession or economic uncertainty, of course, is pent up demand. People may well be desperate to book a holiday before the year is out and this spend alone will have a huge impact on the economy.
This news about the Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, is interesting as it shows there’s also no lack of appetite to fund massive expansions. Of course, this is also good news for smaller organisations given that Flipkart are talking about creating a world-class supply chain. It’s likely that a pie of this size means plenty to go around.
Recent news coverage on the hospitality industry in the UK paints a troubling picture. The easing of lockdown to step 4 has been welcomed but test and trace guidelines are making running a business in this sector uncertain and exhausting.
Interestingly, one of the most common applications (if not the most common) I’ve received over the past 15 months or so, is for hospitality linked businesses. People have seen the change in circumstances and recognised add-on services, such as home delivery, or mobile sales, that can be provided without falling foul of restrictions. So, maybe there’s something of a contradiction here?
I’ve run growth workshops in the past which focus on looking at opportunities within the business, as well as across existing and adjacent markets and this is still something that works even though the challenge to growth is now a different one. I’d advise struggling business owners to get back to basics: tune in to what you know you’re really good at and see how and where this can be offered or partnered with other services. Spend some time investigating your efficiency and whether this can be improved. And finally, look for someone who can help you brainstorm ideas. There are plenty of links online to rescue funding but very little when it comes to actively working your way out of the problem. There are always opportunities in every business and these should play a part in your rescue package too.
You may be forgiven for thinking not much has been happening in the world of business startups for the past year or so. You’d be wrong. We’ve seen our busiest year ever here at Streamlion, and it seems there’s been no change to the old adage that alongside crisis comes opportunity.
Startups.co.uk have published their list of The Startups100 for 2020, using criteria such as finances, turnover, strength of business idea and the opinions of existing successful entrepreneurs, to rank businesses across the categories of tech, family, social, B2C, B2B, and regional.
The full list of the class of 2020 is here, and we’re excited to see everything from healthy baby food, to outsourced delivery services for small grocery stores and a platform for families to use to monitor elderly relatives in care.
There’s a heavy emphasis on automation – or making everyday life more simple – with a hefty number of data and analytics platforms included. Wellbeing and sustainability are also big players. Overall though, it’s great to see the appetite for entrepreneurialism hasn’t diminished.
LinkedIn is reporting that financial optimism in the UK market has almost doubled since the start of 2021. As someone who is very close to new business, I agree wholeheartedly that the appetite for entrepreneurialism has not been dented by our experiences of the past year. They say there’s no better time to start a business than when the chips are down and people are certainly willing to throw their hat in the ring at the moment.
In terms of helping startups to get the funding they need to bring their dream business into reality, I’ve helped an incredible 100 businesses in just four months of the current calendar year, against a total of 185 in the whole of the last calendar year. Things are incredibly busy, with food delivery and take-away businesses not surprisingly being a super-hot market right now (no pun intended!).
One of LinkedIn’s highlights states that employees of small and medium businesses have seen confidence rise faster than the UK average – possibly down to the fact that these businesses tend to be more agile and adaptable, meaning their damage will have been limited and they may even be going forward to experience a reinvented future.
You can read the rest of the report here.
Accountancy firm BDO recently reported that 75% of mid-sized business owners expect revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels within a year. The survey of 500 of the UK’s mid-sized businesses also revealed that 86% of firms are planning to recruit over the next six months.
This research is comforting given the absolute uncertainty of the past year-and-a-bit, and means interest in investing in British businesses is also on the up. 26% of those surveyed revealed they are planning M&A activity and, while prices will almost certainly rise, the news is generally good for those wanting to grow their businesses.
If launching a new business is something you’ve considered recently, check out these top tips to ensure fast growth even during a global slow down.
Here’s a jolly, tongue-in-cheek piece about the current caterpillar wars between two of our leading supermarkets. However, a serious message lies beneath this tale: it’s critical to ensure your business idea can stand alone if you want to launch a successful start-up.
There are several elements that come into play here (and, of course, there’s no harm in going head-to-head with a competitor if you have a clear differentiator):
- You need to be able to prove that your idea can stand on its own two (or more, where Colin is concerned) feet. Obviously not all ideas are completely unique but you need to demonstrate clear differentiators between your idea and anything very similar to ensure you’re not accused of copying;
- Uniqueness is important if you want your business to be able to sustain itself long-term. Having a genuinely different product or service will ensure customer loyalty and this will give rise to referrals. It’s a cutthroat world out there and simply being cheaper than your competitors may not be enough to create a robust business in its own right (this is also critical if you want investment for your business);
- Always carry out market research. There aren’t many entrepreneurs who can boast of launching a first idea to the market successfully. For many, the initial seed of an idea will evolve countless times before it is finally sent to market. Talking to others will also help you to understand any confusion with other products and clarify your messaging and market position.
As part of our 6th birthday celebrations, Streamlion Consulting has, of course, not missed the chance to enjoy a cake! Such a traditional – and unmissable – part of celebrating a birthday and, while eating it, we contemplated how other businesses have celebrated birthdays.
Of course, budget comes into play when deciding how to let the world know you have a successful brand and business (this is, of course, another marketing opportunity at heart) and some of the bigger players have really pushed the boat out in the past.
Apple celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Mac by compiling a video shot by its own employees using iphones. This global project showed people’s lives being enhanced by Apple products and was a supremely clever, multi-level message for its audience. Apple have long said their mission was to bring technology to the hands of the people and this was never more evident than in their birthday video. Of course, it also served to showcase many of their products as well as being a really inclusive experience for their people.
Heinz were also clever at bringing people along with them but they focused on their customer audience when, for their 130th birthday, they enabled customers to order bottles of ketchup with personalised messages on the labels. A truly inspired way to boost sales and create a keepsake to ensure your brand is always front of mind.
You might say Coca-Cola’s 125th celebrations broke new frontiers as they became the first soft drink to be consumed in space. They engineered this other worldly stunt by letting astronauts on board Challenger test out their ‘space can’ and also installed a vending machine called the ‘Space Dispenser’ on board the space shuttle Discovery.
For us mere mortals with a more average budget however, birthday celebrations are no less important. With 20% of startup businesses reportedly going bust within their first year and a massive 60% not seeing their third birthday, reaching any anniversary is an achievement. And, for Streamlion, it’s extra special because seeing businesses ‘making it’ is the cherry on the cake for us.
So, our cake might seem modest in comparison to some of the big brand birthday antics but, for us, it represents why we are here and what we do:
- We help startups to pull together a recipe for success by creating a business plan that will secure valuable funding and investment;
- We help entrepreneurs find the right mix to ensure their business rises to the top and satisfies all their goals;
- We advise business owners on how to choose the right ingredients for success as their business grows and scales;
- Our extensive network of investors and knowledge of investment markets is the icing on the cake for our clients;
- We help businesses take the temperature of the market when launching, scaling or exiting their businesses;
- Excellent customer service and a good sense of humour is baked right in.
Happy birthday Streamlion, and all the other businesses still going strong after a challenging year.
Streamlion is 6 and, to celebrate, here are 6 things we’ve learned about being in business so far.
1. No business is an island.
Never truer than over the past year, collaborating creates a stronger team. Finding reputable associates is worth its weight in gold to your business because you never have to say ‘no’ to a client again. You can offer a wider range of services by partnering with complementary businesses and these relationships tend to generate business referrals in their own right.
2. Networking is key.
Networking can be a little like marmite – you either love, or hate, the thought. But, if you find a group with a style that works for you, and put the right amount of effort in, there’s no doubt it can reap rewards in many ways. From identifying your ideal clients and generating leads to building your trusted partners, by networking we get to find out who we know, like and trust – and whether the feeling is mutual. For Streamlion, networking has been a key strategy, paying dividends from a business growth point of view and also in building our valued investor relationships.
3. Mistakes are learning points.
We all get it wrong from time to time but perhaps we should look at this as a good thing. We don’t learn without making mistakes. Sayings such as ‘fail forward’ indicate that sometimes getting things wrong can be to our benefit – this is especially true in the case of serial entrepreneurs who are renowned for keeping going until an idea sticks. Learn to love the lessons that come from getting it wrong.
4. Stick to what you know.
This is not to say you shouldn’t innovate (far from it) but when it comes to business, you should avoid being bogged down by non-core activity. Anything back-office or additional to securing sales or delivery should be handed over to carefully selected associates.
You are the power and the brains behind your business so don’t dilute this. To quote a brilliant Virtual Assistant in one of my networking groups, ‘outsource everything but your brilliance’.
5. Evolve. Always.
The uber successful Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying “what’s dangerous, is not to evolve” and we’ve certainly seen evidence of this over the past year. As business owners, we should continually revisit and review what we do and how we do it. For Streamlion, the latest evolution is putting a “best in class” Referral Partner scheme into place, where I generously reward my strategic partners for introducing and qualifying opportunities for my pipeline. A win-win situation for us all.
6. Don’t take your ideal customer avatar for granted.
Perhaps my most recent observation, having watched businesses turn themselves inside out to survive the pandemic, is not to take your ideal client persona for granted. It’s critical to spend time understanding your ideal client but this isn’t a one-off task. This also needs to evolve, especially as you change and bring new products or services online.
I hope there’s some food for thought in there for you – and I’d love to hear your own business lessons if you’d be willing to share.
Responses to, and outcomes of, the pandemic have varied greatly around the world and not always conformed to stereotypes. This fact, and the issues that have been raised by the immense disruption to our definition of normality are certain to change working cultures across the globe. Here’s a whistle-stop tour of what the world might look like when the pandemic has finally died down.
Globalisation has been the great economic movement for some years now but coronavirus might just have highlighted some of the downfalls of the world becoming a smaller place. Stand aside the speed with which the virus was able to spread, huge trust issues have also been thrust into the open as a result of previous big players like the US and China seemingly unable to handle the pandemic in the right way. From Trump denying its very existence to a strong suspicion that China has dramatically under-reported its numbers, both countries may no longer be featuring in the future plans of big business.
So, while we’ve uncovered a greater need to work as one when it comes to managing crises, the pandemic may also show us that we need to rely less on countries who aren’t trusted and transparent.
2. Quality not quantity
The issue of quality has many strands when considered in relation to the pandemic. Firstly, remote working has uncovered an unexpected increase in efficiency, even with the incredible strain on families who are home schooling. It’s not without risks, as mental health statistics are starting to show but empowering people to get the job done, whenever and however may well be a change that’s here to stay.
Quality is also under the spotlight when it comes to manufacturing and this brings us back to globalisation. Currently China is the main beneficiary of a global economy, chiefly down to the sheer volume of manufacturing it can process. However, it is not making goods to the quality required. Consider PPE: poor quality (aka cheap) face masks are a financial risk not worth taking. The future is likely to demand better brand promises focused around safety and a commitment to trust.
3. Eggs in baskets
One of the main reasons for disruption during the pandemic has been seen through supply chains. Simply getting goods from one place to another has been the critical path many times and this is likely to mean global supply chains will be questioned once the pandemic has died down.
Certainly seeding our suppliers across different countries and continents, while harder to track and control, will mitigate risk. The winners here are likely to be less well-known providers of cheap labour such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The losers? China again.
4. The age of values and conscience
Perhaps an unexpected outcome of the pandemic has been the accelerated rise of Generation Co – the conscientious, values-based, environmentally-aware demographic within society. They believe that businesses should be partnering with government and society at large to improve the world. Sustainability, empathy and planet-friendly goods and services are under the microscope and there’s a strong belief that large corporations will need to tackle these issues to be successful in the future.
We could be heading towards a world where shareholders are no longer on the top of the pile. In fact GenCo believes that the planet itself should be our main stakeholder.
There’s another angle on conscience to consider and that’s empathy. A global study of workers conducted by Quartz and Qualtrics showed that 37% feel their company culture has improved as a result of the pandemic and a big part of that is greater recognition of employee’s mental health. Employers will need to continue to show empathy and value emotional, as well as physical, health in their people if they want to retain a strong, enthusiastic and capable workforce.