As an entrepreneur, from day one you must have the passion and determination to get your business idea off the ground. There are many ingredients that go into creating a successful business but first and foremost, your drive and energy is ultimately what is going to make your initial business idea a reality. It sounds obvious and may have been said before, but if you don’t believe in your business venture, then no one will.
As a boy I started out sweeping floors at a local Barber’s shop in my home town of Limerick, Ireland. I slowly worked my way up from making the tea to cutting hair and before I knew it, I realised my passion for men’s haircutting. Of course, not all great business ideas start with a childhood tale, but as a budding entrepreneur, you must have a vision for the business or an end-goal of where you want to finish. I didn’t necessarily know that I wanted to own a chain of Barber Shop’s but I knew I wanted to create something unique and fill a gap in the market so that any customer, stakeholder or partner knows exactly what they’re getting when they come to my business.
Create a brand identity
So, where do you start? My business would be nowhere without its identity. It’s what makes it unique and really standout from the crowd. I am a firm believer that you will struggle to get anywhere in business if you try to please everyone. By trying to please everyone, you ultimately end up pleasing no one, so stick to your guns and always stand by what you believe in. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting the brand identity right from the outset. As a business, if you’re constantly chopping and changing your beliefs and what you stand for, you will start to lose respect from potential customers and investors.
Critique the business model
You have a brilliant idea and a vision for where you want to take it, but what do you do next? A great idea is nothing without a sound and well thought-out business plan. The business plan is what draws out your strengths, weaknesses and answers all of the difficult questions you may not have thought to ask yourself. It’s very unlikely you’ll have all of the answers to begin with, but it is finding the answer to those questions that will make your business model stronger and help you to prepare for certain scenarios further down the line.
Build a team
My ultimate tip for success would be to build a great team around you and think carefully about what your business idea is missing in terms of personnel. It’s easy to overlook the importance of having a great mix of personalities to take a business forward and shape it into something great. There is nothing wrong with starting out by yourself as most successful businesses are born out of one person’s passion, but you’ll quickly realise that it requires a strong leadership team to take that business to the next level.
The power of the customer
A final point and arguably one of the more obvious but most overlooked ones is it really does pay to keep your customers happy, particularly in the digital age we live in where customers have the power to spread their experience to thousands of people at the click of a button. Yes, you want to grow the business and gain a bigger share of the market, but keeping your existing customer base happy and using customer referrals as a platform to grow your business is a key strategy that I’ve used to grow my organisation to what it is today.
You will need to be bold at times and willing to take risks. It’s particularly important to have a mentor you can learn from – mine is my business partner Morgan – otherwise a work life balance will not exist. Don't be afraid to say no but at the same time never take no for an answer, never take your eye off the prize and finally don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're finished.
By Johnny Shanahan, owner and founder of BarberBarber