By Tom Mundy, COO, Goodlord
Entrepreneurship was something I aspired to from a young age. Coming from an entrepreneurial family – all five members being self-employed – I guess you could say that taking control of my own destiny was somewhat in my DNA.
And while I believe being brought up in this entrepreneurial environment certainly opened my eyes to the benefits of being your own boss, I’d also like to think that I innately possessed the ambition and drive that helped spur me on to where I am today.
Looking back, I wasn’t your average fourteen-year-old; having learnt how to make fudge from my mother, I took myself off to our local Saturday market and discovered I could sell it for quite a handsome profit. It was this first taste of success that encouraged me to dream of building my own business someday, one that I would be truly passionate about.
Later in life, I went to university and soon encountered what it is to live as a broke student. Fed up with having little to spend, some friends and I decided to revamp my past fudge business.
Homemade fudge made and ready to go, we were set to hit a nearby market stall when we encountered our first big challenge: the need for a health and safety certificate. As three students, unsure of how to attain such a thing, we rethought our strategy and figured out a clever workaround – taking our business online to the then booming social media platform, Facebook. It was at this stage in my life that I realised the enormous potential digitisation has to empower a business and thanks to us taking advantage of the digital era, our money-making side hustle transformed into a successful online delivery business.
Through this experience, I learnt first-hand many useful lessons, such as: how to start a limited company, what taxes are, how to coordinate events, and the art of persuasion – all of which would be invaluable in years to come when I would go on to co-found RentTech company, Goodlord.
Secrets to Success
- Spotting a gap in the market
Being able to identify a gap in the market will build the necessary foundation for a successful business, and this can mean either recognising a product that customers need that isn’t currently available or providing an improved solution to a market. The latter was the approach we took for the rental sector with Goodlord.
Creating Goodlord was less of a “eureka” moment but more so, an organic idea generated by the shared circumstances of myself and the other two founders.
When we started the company, renting was a clunky, heavily paper-based process — we’re talking 30+ sheets of paper to sign for one tenancy. And at the time, we were all living in rented accommodations and had therefore experienced how problematic and inefficient the current lettings procedures were.
Being part of the younger more digitally minded generation –and having the experience of our online fudge shop behind us – the idea for Goodlord seemed like a no brainer; digitising an industry that was crying out for it was going to create huge scope for opportunity.
- Getting in the right mindset
One of the hardest challenges in starting your own business is taking that first step, and a big part of being able to successfully do so, is to have the right mindset.
– Believe that anything is possible – When starting a business, there are bound to be many obstacles that you must overcome and so having the self-belief to persevere and problem-solve will be instrumental to your success.
– Don’t be afraid – Granted this is easier said than done, taking risk is a big part of being an entrepreneur, so having the confidence to do so and trusting that the rewards will be worth it is key.
– Focus on your triumphs – At times you’re likely to feel frustrated when you get thrown off the path to achieving your business goals, so celebrating key milestones can help you stay in a motivated mindset and give you the strength to continue.
- Hiring the right people
It goes without saying that talented employees are pivotal to the success of a business and so making sure you hire the best-suited people to your company will go a long way.
– Be transparent – When advertising job roles, be open and honest about who you are as a company in order to attract people who share your values and are happy with the required expectations.
– Use LinkedIn to your ability – While using recruiters is a great way to find talented people, if you have a very senior role opening, get the co-founders involved immediately. A personalised message to a prospective employee can help to display an authentic interest and drum up excitement.
– Have a structured interview process – At Goodlord, we all read ‘Work Rules!’ by Laszlo Bock early on in our companies’ career and found this to be really useful in establishing a reliable interview process for selecting staff that are not only qualified to do the job but will also gel well with the company culture.
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, be brave and go for it. After all, once you’ve set up a business once –never mind whether it’s big or successful– you’ll have the road map to do it again, and hopefully next time it will be successful.