Scores of Independent Avon Representatives and leading businesswomen, including Karren Brady and Emma Jones, founder of Startup Britain and Enterprise Nation have pooled their experience to create a checklist of essentials to help guide women who are just starting out:
Avon’s Everyday Entrepreneur Essentials
- The idea – know your Unique Selling Point
You don’t have to make millions, invent a new amazing product or employ hundreds of staff to be an entrepreneur - but you do need to have a good idea.
Julie Logan, Professor of Entrepreneurship, says: ‘If you are to succeed your service or product must stand apart from the competition. This doesn’t have to be a new invention, you could create a USP by offering better customer service or quicker delivery. Whatever the USP this will be the core around which you build your company.’
- Passion – do something you love
When starting up a business, come up with an idea that you are truly passionate about. This will help you battle through the tough times and keep you enthusiastic.
Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation, says: ‘When your hobby, passion or skill becomes your full time job it never really feels like work. Figure out what makes you tick and take your first step on the path to self-employment. You'll never look back!’
- Research your chosen sector before making the leap
Do your research, make a plan and take tentative steps to get your business off the ground before you leave your current job. This will reduce the element of risk involved, so that you can build your business on solid foundations.
Gail Reynolds, Avon Sales Leader, says: “Before you start your business make sure you consider these three things; is the Timing right for you and the market place, is it the right Opportunity for you and your target audience and are you in the right Place in your mind and physical surroundings?”
- Business Plan – plot your path
A detailed business plan is a vital requirement for any business. It helps you to set out your vision, looking at every area of your proposed business idea, and ensure you have planned the best possible way of executing it. Don’t forget to include sound financials and review the plan every six months or so.
- Network - seek advice and support
Develop your own support network of fellow entrepreneurs and advisers to regularly bounce around ideas. Encourage the support of immediate family and friends – you might be able to share your childcare responsibilities with someone else in a similar situation. Visit business forums like www.avonconnects.co.uk or join a business network like www.everywoman.com to build support from within the industry.
Jennifer Howze, Co-founder of Britmums, says: ‘Keep all the business cards you get and write on the back where you met the person, what you talked about, or other memory aids so when you come across it later you can place the person quickly.’
- Make cashflow a priority
There are business opportunities out there with a low cash barrier to entry. Begin with saving as much capital prior to starting your new venture as possible. The Aspire Fund launched by the Government and matched by private investors, offers funding specifically for female-led businesses. Visit www.capitalforenterprise.gov.uk for more info.
- Spread the word – use social media
Word of mouth recommendation works in any medium. Use your own social media channels including Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook to raise awareness of your product or service, create a personality for your brand and connect with your target market.
Avon Mentor, Karren Brady, says: ‘Lots of people are afraid of the internet and new technology because they have little or no knowledge of it but the best thing is to jump in, get online and start learning.’
- Utilise a simple website to showcase your business
Think carefully about how your customers would search for your product or service online – what questions do they have, what specific words would they use? Write your website with these key terms to drive search results and traffic to your website. Promote on business cards, email signatures and using social media. You can get free website building tools from sites like this one: http://www.webeden.co.uk/
- Be Realistic – you won’t earn mega-bucks overnight
Starting off you can sometimes set the bar too high. Remember that running a business will entail working long hours with potentially little money for a while but the results will be worth the sacrifice.
A survey respondent, says, ‘When you first start out; think how many hours you will be working and double it. Imagine how much money you will make and half it!’
- Determination – Believe in yourself and your abilities!
Self-belief is vital. You might be tempted to give up if things get tough but keep going and focus on your abilities. You need to be committed to your business for the first few years in order to reap the benefits later.
Angie Winter, Avon Sales Leader, says: ‘Persistence and determination are key to success. Never think your business is now established, always look for new clients, new products and new opportunities.’
For more information visit www.avon.uk.com and www.avonconnects.co.uk.