The alchemy of a start up by Jo Haigh


Alchemy; the ability to turn a base metal into gold.

Is there such a chemical formula for a start-up business?

Step 1 – Take two enthusiastic people.

You need two minimum; an ideas person and an implementer. If you have both these skills then lucky you but if there are two or more of you don’t forget the all-important shareholders agreement.

Step 2 – Sprinkle with numerous ideas.

One is never enough, it won’t work and it won’t work first time. 1% success is usually mitigated by 99% failures so if you want a great idea you had better have lots of them.

Step 3 – Add a dash or twenty of funding.

Businesses do not fail for lack of profits; they fail through lack of cash. You can run without profit for some time but you can only run out of cash once.

Most businesses in the early stage are very under-capitalised, yes I know it’s not easy to find but you must if you want more certainty of success.

However much you think you need add a large dollop of contingency.

Step 4 – Take a shed load of energy.

If you think you are busy or tired working for someone else that is nothing compared to being self-employed. Stamina sorts the girls from the women (and of course the men from the boys) you simply have to keep going.

Step 5 – Stir in a bunch of enthusiasm.

You will have many a black day, month or even year but you cannot afford to let this get you down. Get a mentor, as you will need someone to talk to, and be the real you because when you are in the thick of it and things get hairy you need to stay positive and balanced.

Step 6 – Cook slowly in a warm oven.

Only a very few businesses are instantly successful, most take years to come to maturity, you are unlikely to be an overnight success.

Step 7 – Enjoy the finalised article with care.

Do you want a lifestyle business where you enjoy a healthy salary or are you building something of capital value to sell for a large sum? CHOOSE as these require very different strategies.

Step 8 – Pass on the recipe.

If you are successful the greatest gift you can give is to help others on their journey. For me this has been the best thing I have ever done, more rewarding than anything else, and what’s more it costs nothing.


Jo’s latest book, The Keys to the Boardroom: how to get there and how to stay there, is due for release October 2013.


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