I am a 28-year-old woman from Macedonia that has lived in London for 18 months, working in a hotel restaurant and then on reception. I am well educated but do not have experience of running a business. London is expensive and saving money on a modest income is very difficult so I have only a small amount of money that I can spare.
I have a great idea for an online business to start up, which I believe no one else is doing at the moment (forgive me for not sharing openly what it is at this stage). If you were in my position, what would you do next to try and get the business venture off the ground? How do I source a good web designer and marketer that I can trust and what should I expect to pay? What are the most important things I need to know before getting started?
I look forward to seeing your reply.
Baybars Replies: Everything depends on you – not on the finance
I completely understand your hesitation about sharing your business idea. It is not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to feel uncomfortable sharing their new ideas with third parties for fear of having their business idea stolen.
Pitch your business idea first to web designers and ask them to be a shareholder of this business by investing their skill and time.
My experience, however, shows that it is entrepreneurs themselves who are more crucial for the success of the business than the original business idea. So you needn’t be overly-cautious about sharing because in the future you will need money from angel investors to grow your business – which means you will have to share every minute detail of your business with tens of investors and matchmakers.
My advice to you for starting an online business on a limited budget is to prepare a demo in collaboration with a designer who has an entrepreneurial mind-set and who believes in the potential of your business. Try to convert the idle capacity (time and skill) of a good web designer into an asset. Pitch your business idea first to web designers and ask them to be a shareholder of this business by investing their skill and time. By doing so, you will have hit two, even three birds, with one stone by gaining a:
- Good website with no out-of-pocket expenses
- Valuable team member and a shareholder you can trust
- Web designer who will not leave you stranded in the middle of the road.
The second step is to prepare a professional pitching presentation and a demo of the business. Then start visiting the incubation and acceleration centres in London that will provide free office space and mentorship to help grow your business. Of course, you have to convince the selection teams at the incubation or acceleration centres. To be ready for investment pitchings, visit the Angel Institute and find Modwenna Rees-Mogg, the co-founder of the UK Business Angels Institute. She can help you develop your pitching skills.
The third step is to visit the British Business Angels Association (BBAA) to reach qualified business angels in the UK who would like to invest in you and your business. Please find Jenny Tooth, the CEO at BBAA and I am sure she will direct you to suitable investors in the UK.
As you see, everything depends on you, not on the finance. If you can convert the idle capacity of people around you, then it is your turn to be identified as a successful entrepreneur!
Baybars Altuntas is a Turkish entrepreneur, speaker and author and also a Dragon on ‘Dragon’s Den Turkey’. Send your questions to:
Modwenna Rees-Mogg, Co-Founder, UK Business Angels Institute