01/04/2015

By Jim Thompson, founder of Crown Worldwide


Economically I think this is a good time to start a business. I don’t know if there’s a ‘secret’ to making it work other than hard work and perseverance – but what I can pass on are things I have learned along the way.

To get to 50 for any business in a huge anniversary and one I never thought I’d see when I started the company in 1965 with very little capital. So the fact we have become an international global business of good size and strength – one which continues to grow – is a real achievement for everyone.

For me it’s been about getting the right team in place, sticking to the business we know best and doing it an extremely positive way.

So here they are – the top six things to think about if you want to start a business in 2015 and make it last until 2065:

1 Be ready for a bumpy ride – and stick with it

If anyone is thinking of starting a business they should be prepared to deal with all the obstacles that come their way. It is rarely ever a smooth ride. You have to be the type of person that will persevere and push through all of those challenges.
I remember when we first started and it was a fragile business – like all start-ups probably are – we were always worried about whether we had enough money to pay bills and whether we were doing the job right. You have to cope with all the ups and the downs.

2 Have a plan and know how much it will cost

Having a plan and knowing where you are going is key for any new business; and part of that is having adequate funding. Just how much you need is difficult to define because it depends on what type of business you are running. In our case we started out with very little capital but in the modern era I wouldn’t recommend that.

3 Learn to delegate and choose good people

It is not possible to do everything yourself in a successful business; you need to delegate. Look around and think ‘who can do this better than I can, who has the right skills’. Appoint good people – then trust and support them.

4 Determination is more important than education

There are many different types of people in business with different educational backgrounds, so don’t feel excluded. Some successful people are quiet, some are loud, some are good sales people, others at finance. All can make it if they have a good team to help carry forward their plan.

A degree of formal education is very helpful for anybody and I encourage it. In fact we support the San Jose State University in the US and have an annual intern program with them. But having a degree is not an essential part of being successful as an entrepreneur. In fact the biggest most famous ones like Gates and Dell were drop-outs! The qualities you do need are a lot of stamina and determination.

5 Know your core values

It is easy to think core values are something you only worry about when the business is already successful. But in fact the reverse is true – core values are what make you successful in the first place. Having respect for the people who work for you, believing in doing a good job in the right way, giving the customer a good experience, communicating with people, giving something back to society – all these things are critical. Do things the right way and you’ll have a better chance of success.

6 Don’t sell too quickly

My advice is retain ownership of your business if you can - don’t give it away or sell too early. So many entrepreneurs today say ‘I’m going to run it for five years then sell it’. But I don’t think that’s a true entrepreneur - that’s almost a speculator in my view.
I almost sold once in the early part of the company’s history. I had an offer on the table but had a change of heart and walked away, and it was the smartest thing I ever did.