On the 19th of April, ACP YPN attended Allen and Overy to take part in a panel discussing entrepreneurship. The audience predominantly comprised a group of high-achieving graduates, investment bankers, consultants and legal professionals who were interested in launching their own businesses. ACP YPN’s representative was the only woman on a panel made up chiefly of ex-investment bankers who had launched businesses in hair and beauty, dining apps, online news, driverless cars, investments and pensions. We spoke of the challenges of setting up organisations, how to access finance, and the persistence and drive required therein. Watch the full event here.
The audience were itching to know the secrets: How to make it big; How to create serious profit; How to know who are the right people to hire and bring along on the journey. The panel had to bring the audience back to reality. Here are four points to note that were discussed with the audience.
- Setting up a business takes extreme perseverance and long hours.
Entrepreneurs spoke of their experience of long hours, sleepless nights, early mornings and exhaustion. This is mainly driven by an intense passion for one’s product and the value that it can provide to the world or the related market. It is often a balancing act trying to juggle several jobs, networking, and taking part in unpaid work in order to turn dreams into reality before the funds start coming in.
- The reward is initially very low.
As outlined above, sourcing funding to start a business is difficult, especially as profit-making and revenue streams do not occur automatically. Most people spoke of the extended period where their business is not in profit, and the need to work in the professional sector for a few years to save up funds to invest in their own business whilst reaching out to venture capitalists. The point was raised that investors can make tax-deductible investments and therefore are looking for projects to feed money into. However, they demand sound business plans of how they can get return on their investments and not just flashy PowerPoints! Knowing your business case is important.
- There may be other competitors in the market but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Doing your market research is important. There may be people already doing similar things as you are offering. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you will need to have some sort of innovation or new spin that you can drive forward. At the end of the day, there are loads of businesses that sell the same product but some are more successful than others and it is important to figure out what your differentiator is.
- Who are the right people to hire and bring along on the journey?
The entrepreneurs recognised that you need a strong team of willing volunteers, assistants, and people with different skillsets whose capacity you can leverage. They also need to share your passion and vision. Family and friends can be important supports, as well as reaching out to people you meet through networking. One entrepreneur stressed the benefit of his team of people for blogging, youtube videos and endorsements to get his product out there.
If you would like advice on setting up an initiative, or you are interested in information and funding opportunities with any of the businesses on the panel, including ACP YPN, feel free to get in touch!