02/12/2013

By Dominic Joseph and Adam Ludwin, co-founders of London-based ad tech business, Captify

Last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week which saw seven days of celebration for inventors and entrepreneurs past and present, as well as advice for those looking to get their light bulb moment off the ground.

In less than three years, we have transformed Captify from a great idea into a company that’s at the cutting edge of the European advertising tech market. Turning a humble idea into a fully-fledged business can be daunting for anyone, but the stress levels go up a notch or two when, like us, you’re in your 20s, with no university education or money in the bank. However, with hard work, commitment and a passion for your business, it’s certainly not impossible. Our top five tips for any 20-something budding entrepreneur looking to set the startup world on fire are:

1. Investment won’t come and find you, so go out and find it
The innovation agenda is big news in the UK. In April 2013, the Government introduced a preferential tax regime known as the Patent Box to encourage further R&D in the UK, and in June this year, it added an additional £185 million to the Technology Strategy Board budget to drive innovation across twelve different sectors – from digital science and transport right through to space technologies. So there is funding out there, but it’s up to you to find it. When you do, make sure any investors you have are on the same page as you, and are willing to give you the support you need. Investing their time and experience can be just as important as investing their money.

2. Employ the dream team
Right from the start, you need to make sure you have the right team to support you, who not only share your ethos and work ethic but also your passion for the business. It’s going to be all hands on deck for at least the first twelve months, so you need to ensure you’ve got the right people behind you. It’s also important to have a mix of ages and experience in your team, so that you are getting industry expertise and solid advice at the same time as fresh ideas.

3. Don’t be a control freak
Stop trying to do everything yourself. You’ll never be able to get everything done on time and standards could slip. In a business’ early days, it’s going to be as much as about speed of delivery as it is about quality of service, and so you don’t want to frustrate any prospects by being too slow to respond. It’s far better to delegate: You have hired the right team and trained them up, so delegate to them and let them use their skill set to do what they are best at.

4. Keep the cash flowing
It’s a simple case of economics: Without a healthy cash flow, your business will cease to exist. A recent study found that nine out of every ten small businesses that fail do so because of poor cash flow. So that’s why once you get the ball rolling and things start to move very quickly, you will need to make sure you have a hand on cash flow at all times. Keep a hand on the purse strings and make more cash, because this could be the key to your success or reason for failure.

5. Make it a great place to work
In order to keep your great team, you need to create an atmosphere that’s creative, supportive and encouraging for staff. Even small things like Friday drinks and giving people the day off on their birthday will go a long way to boost morale and loyalty in staff. Not only will you keep your staff motivated, but you’ll also be set to gain financially as well. A recent Gallup Employee Engagement study found that companies with highly engaged employees showed nearly four times the financial growth rate of companies with lower engagement.

About the authors
Adam and Dominic are the co-founders of Captify who have been keen to innovate, break the mould, and try the seemingly impossible. Finding their way in their industry through unconventional paths, no university education and a series of hurdles to overcome, their partnership epitomises the true spirit of entrepreneurship. They have recently been awarded ‘Young Entrepreneurs of the Year’ in recognition of their achievements.

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