Shara Tochiah specializes in consulting for startups. She has worked internationally across the fitness, hospitality, retail & technology sectors and has founded start ups of her own in the past. Her latest venture DOSE is London’s answer to health and hedonism. Here, she reveals her best tips for making a start-up succeed and how to avoid the mistakes most start-ups make first time round.
1. Don’t do it alone.
Founding a business is lonely for a long time working longer hours than any other job & always putting your work first. Understanding the value in co-founders with different skills sets is integral to the long term success of your business. For example I’m good at relationship building & marketing collaboration, however, I am not a creative or writer. I found this really hard first time round when I was setting up Fitness Freak, my previous business, but I learned from my experience. My co-founder now is an excellent creative and writer and together we’re a great package.
2. Validate your idea with customers.
All the time. Not just with your friends but with research and focus groups at every stage, which are hugely beneficial to validate your idea. There are many great website that review market trends such as WGSN & Mintel to validate what you are doing and setting up a focus group is simple inviting purchasing customers from your database.
3. Find the right investors.
If you are going to raise money for your business in the early stages, raise money from investors that can add value to your business. For example an investor that has founded a business in a similar industry or run a business with asimilar revenue model can provide so much advice and guidance versus just someone with deep pockets.
4. Build something unique.
Whether it’s a brand or product or both, build something different. Look at other brands for inspiration but don’t copy. Know your USP at every stage. For example when I launched Fitness Freak, it was the first of it’s kind in the UK market so I looked to the US business Class Pass (then Classtivity) for inspiration.
5. Focus, focus, focus.
It’s so easy to get lost in investors, friends and even customers opinions. Focus on your vision and goal. Keep strong and believe in yourself.
6. Retention is key.
Getting customers is hard, but keeping them coming back is even harder and the most important. Setting up a CRM system which can communicate targeted e-mails based on purchase behaviour can be an excellent investment for your business in order to entice a customer to return to buy.
7. Get your legals in order.
Protect yourself and your company as soon as you can. You can get information on copyright for your product or protect your idea by visiting startups.co.uk and so much more key information for starting a business.