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Entrepreneurship: Top tips for starting your own business

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, The University of Law Business School brought together entrepreneurial experts at our campus in London Bloomsbury to give students the chance to find out how successful business-starters had achieved their ambitions. We also got the chance to ask our guests for their top tips on how to get your start-up going. Here’s what they said.

By Editorial Team. Published 03 December 2018. Last updated 27 July 2022.

Nick Howe

Enterprise Manager, London and South East for Natwest Business Banking

There are 5.5 million small to medium enterprises (SMEs) operating across the UK, generating 15.6 million jobs. Of these jobs, 45% don’t get advertised because a growing community of entrepreneurs are creating these roles for themselves and using their networks to get the right people for the job. Social networks, mentors and professional body associations can help you find out about these job roles.

Successful entrepreneurs have fallen in love with their customers’ problem, not their own solution to it. Let the market guide you on what your business should look like – make sure you really understand how you’re different from your competitors and how you’ll communicate this to your target market.

Lastly; if you’re going to be successful as an entrepreneur you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You will have to take risks.

Julian Hitch

Director of Well-Being for Leon Restaurants, Wing Tsun Master and ULaw graduate

Find what you love. Don’t underestimate how challenging running your own business can be. You need to be truly passionate about what you do to stay motivated and overcome any setbacks.

Know yourself. Being authentic is critical to success because people buy you, not just your product. Showcase your creativity and know your skillset. If you know you have weaknesses in certain areas, work hard to address these but most importantly surround yourself with people who can fill those gaps and help you extend your team, and therefore who you can learn from.

Stay relaxed. It’s easier said than done, but to have any sort of sustainable career, especially if you’re self-employed, you need to look after yourself and find strategies that allow you to work hard whilst still being able to relax your body and mind.

Go with the flow. Don’t force things. If you need to force it, you’ll never know if it’s working properly. If you’re always focused on the outcome you’ll never enjoy the journey and you could miss unexpected opportunities that present themselves along the way.

Stay positive. If you have the ability to see the gift in every moment, even when it’s really hard, you’ll build a resilience and an appreciation of the bigger picture that is critical to success.

Rachel Wang

Director of Chocolate Films, previous Entrepreneur of the Year winner and ULaw alumna

Write your own story. The flexibility and control of working for yourself is a huge draw for many entrepreneurs and you should make sure you make the most of this privilege. You can focus on well-being, you can construct a working day that enhances your life and the life of your family and you can do good. It’s not always easy but it is possible.

Don’t pretend. There’s nowhere to hide if you’re starting up your own business so don’t be afraid to ask silly questions and constantly build your knowledge and skill set. You’ll only get caught out if you pretend to know all the answers.

Be kind. Always be aware of the people you meet along your journey. Every interaction could lead to an offer of work or a new opportunity, or even an inspirational conversation with a like-minded person. Building authentic and strong relationships is critical.

Ben Lion

co-founder of ‘Crude’, a speciality coffee and cold brew brand

Get going and adapt in real time. You’ll never have all the answers so get going, make some decisions and learn to adjust and adapt. You can and should learn as your business progresses. The business environment changes so quickly that waiting until you have the ‘perfect plan’ is counterproductive.

Differentiate yourself. Whatever industry you’re in you need to understand your market and what your competitors are providing. If you can’t innovate and differentiate with a compelling brand story to tell you’re always going to be playing catch-up.

Stick with it. You will want to quit at some point, but have faith in your idea and persevere. Starting your own business and then building and growing it can seem impossibly hard at points so you need to embrace the ‘trial and error’ approach and ensure you learn from every mistake you might make and adapt accordingly.

At The University of Law Business School, employability is at the heart of everything we do. Whether you’re interested in a corporate career in the city or need support in developing your own business ideas, find out more about how our degrees could help you achieve your aspirations.