Five Tips to Launch Your Own Start Up
A Melbourne entrepreneur and Founder of Deliciou Bacon Seasoning shares five tips to students wanting to launch a business.
When I recently dropped out of my Masters course at the University of Melbourne to start a business, I did so with a clear understanding of the rocky road ahead. Firstly, I was going into an industry in which I had zero experience. Secondly, I had been living in Melbourne for less than a year. Thirdly, I had no experience in online marketing, coding, government regulations and all the other things that come with starting a business.
Nevertheless, just five months after quitting my degree, I launched my business selling my vegetarian recipe of Bacon Seasoning. I had been a lifelong bacon lover, and when research revealed a correlation between bacon consumption and increased the risk of cancer, I decided to find a safe way to enjoy bacon flavour. I’ve always wanted to start a new business, so when the opportunity presented itself, I went for it.
Online sales surged along with the bacon craze, and we quickly expanded into multiple retailers around Melbourne. Today we continue to grow, expanding our retail presence and developing new products.
Starting your own business is a daunting prospect. Here are my five tips to kick-start your next startup adventure.
1. Ask people for help
Speak with people who know more than you do about your industry or the problems you face. Before you even start, you need to know about the industry, competitors, manufacturing and getting the product to market. It was exhausting, but I called more than 100 companies in Melbourne when I was developing my product. Reaching out to strangers might seem awkward, but is invaluable. My advice? Get over it and just do it. The first call is always the hardest.
2. Overcoming your fears
The scary and intimidating situations you encounter when you open a business are incessant. For example, I needed to import specific equipment from China for packaging. There was a sea of suppliers to choose from, many of which could be scammers. The risk was high; if I got it wrong, I would have insufficient funds to launch my product. I did extensive research on potential suppliers and learnt about common scams and secure money transfer options. After around 100 hours of research and calling Australian food businesses to ask for advice, I felt I had a reasonable understanding of the risks involved. I went ahead with the equipment purchases, and everything worked out fine.
Overcoming your fears does not mean just close your eyes and do it. Don’t listen to those who tell you to just “jump into it” because you’re a lot more likely to make a mistake. Be smart about it and put your university research skills to good use.
3. Know your numbers
Seven years ago I launched my very first business, which was a staffing agency in Norway. Unfortunately, I did (almost) everything wrong, and the worst mistake of all was to be completely oblivious to my financials. If you are a current student, it’s a good idea to do a few accounting subjects. You need to know your margins, break-even points, cash flow forecasts and budgeting. It is not something you can learn from a one-hour YouTube video.
The reason it is so important to know these things is that they drive your daily decisions. For example, I knew from a very early stage what kind of profit margins I needed on my Bacon Seasoning. On a regular basis, I would make business decisions based on what kind of margins I required. It forced me to source certain parts from China because the same parts were too expensive in Australia. It involved leaving some suppliers due to quality and value standards not being met. You need to know your numbers to make smarter business decisions.
Knowledge is power, and it pays to educate yourself about what you’re getting into. I read many book and online articles, watched countless YouTube videos and took online courses in the lead up to my launch. For example, to prepare my social media strategy I bought relevant books, discussed strategies with several entrepreneurs and engaged in appropriate forums. Books are an incredible resource because they allow you to absorb the experiences and wisdom from some of the smartest people in the world, all in just a few hours. The earlier you start reading, the better.
5. Persevere (sometimes)
The ability to persevere is thrown around a lot in the entrepreneurial community. You need to to get through the tougher moments of launching a business. However, it’s not always the right thing. Don’t fall into the trap of persisting with a terrible product, substandard social media project or low margins. Regardless of your determination to succeed, you need to be realistic.
Launching your own business can be a remarkable experience. Make sure you talk to the right people, do the research, know your numbers, educate yourself and know when to persevere.
Kjetil Hansen is the owner of Deliciou’s Bacon Seasoning. Check out his business at www.baconseasoning.com.au