By Jonathan Davies

After being nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2014, Michael Kent, founder of digital money service, Azimo, has provided his top 10 tips for start-ups.
1. Get a business partner

Building a business is often a mix of exhilaration, terror and ridiculous amounts of work. All are better with someone along for the ride.

2. Just do it

This is something we often say in the Azimo office, although perhaps with more risqué language, and it’s an important phrase. Get going on your venture as soon as you can – there will never be a perfect time to launch a business and the risks are less when you’re younger. Start-ups, mortgage payments, families and school fees are a tricky mix!

3. Do as much as you can before you quit your day job

If possible, try and do as much as you can on your venture before you quit your day job. It’s far easier to take risks and be disruptive when you have minimal costs to cover as a boss is paying your bills.

4. Find a mentor

It’s incredibly helpful to find a couple of early mentors. Experienced entrepreneurs love to give advice, and write handy top ten lists, and some of these mentors will end up helping more than you ever imagined with ideas, connections and capital.

5. Ignore other people’s advice

While a mentor is important, no one will understand your business context as well as you do, so listen to the advice but don’t always follow it.

6. Don’t go and see the venture capitalists too early

The UK Venture Capitalist scene is a tiny group of people and you only get one chance to make a good impression. Practice and perfect your pitch on the people who matter less (friends, family and angel investors) and only hit the professional investors when you’re super polished and can tackle the tricky questions.

7. Embellish the truth

It’s a fine line but in order to get up and running fast you’ll need to be able to sell your business and ideas from the off. It’s fine to sound more advanced than you think you are, but ensure it sounds credible.

8. Discuss with friends and family

Discuss what you’re doing with your life partner or family and keep talking about it. You’ll be stressed enough without a stressed relationship. Remember that if you’d taken that corporate job, instead of following your entrepreneurial dream you’d be working just as hard but to someone else’s timetable.

9. Build diversity into your team

If you can get past the extra time it will take to get to learn to work well together and the potential conflicts that may come your way, it will be a much more innovative and successful environment, than a bunch of British white blokes sat round a table.

10. Create an innovative work environment

Don’t be scared to run a business in a different way to how you think a ‘traditional’ business should look like. Creating a more enjoyable workplace for your staff will allow them to be more creative and innovative. Every member of staff at Azimo is given a free day every quarter to allow them to get involved with work in the community. Through this, Azimo’s employees work with local and national projects and many take part in a wide range of fundraising activities.”

Michael Kent founded Azimo in July 2012 and was nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2014 which took place on 19 November at Old Billingstate, London.

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