Get a trusted mentor. Having a mentor from day one will really fast-track your progress and provide an insurance policy against inexperience. This mentor should ideally be of the same moral compass as yourself – and listen to your gut here.

Be kind to yourself. Celebrate the small victories along the way. Apply the 80/20 principle in all areas.

Photo by Attitude Productions
Chris EatherFreestyle Bouldering Gym

It’s simple: just do it. Don’t over think it. If I had kept weighing up the pros and cons, I would never have started. So, if there’s an opening, if there’s a gap in the market – if you see an opportunity, then just go for it.

Photo by Simon Scott Photo
Bridget DoranThe Herd Bar

Beattie: Hang in there, that’s a big one. Hang on while that horse is bucking and jumping around. Try and make friends in the local area – it’s great to have support. With networking, you can support each other, so getting those connections and friendships is important. Social media is a really big help in our industry, especially now because when people want to know something about a business, they often check Facebook. Have an imagination about what you can achieve, but also be able to bring some of your ideas down to a doable thing.

David: You must be very driven. Your business needs to be your passion. Try to find all possible avenues of getting the word out there for your product. If you can, think slightly longer term, then hopefully you can last the distance over the first five years. You need to be realistic about goal setting as well. And it’s good if you have family support and a good support network.

Beattie Alvarez and David AllanGranny Fi's Toy Cupboard

Make sure it’s really what you want to do. It’s always good to have some funds behind you when you’re starting out. I didn’t when I first started – I borrowed some money off my brother to get started, but it would’ve been better if I had that myself. The longer he was in the business, the more I had to pay him back.

Make sure you set up correctly when you start.

Having the right team is also really important. You don’t want to roll staff over. You have to look after them. Pay above award wages and make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Photo by Reel Spark
James McCannBones' Tyres

Don’t think about your business, think about the end user of whatever you are producing. So many businesses look inwards rather than looking from the perspective of their client. It’s not about us, it’s about what our client wants and needs. The world is becoming more niche; you don’t have to appeal to everyone. Think about marketing to specific businesses. People are so scared of focusing. Don’t be.

Jason ArcherAttitude Productions

Look after people and help them as much as you can. If you can’t do something, don’t say you can do it. The goal is not a one-off sale – business is about repeat business. Form relationships with your customers, listen to them, and treat them well.

Tony ElderBlack Dot Music

You’ve got to be in it to win it. If you think something is going to work, just have a crack at it. Who thought putting poo in a bag would pay for a wedding?

Do your research. I engaged with the New England Gardeners page and chatted with Lou Forsythe. Lou was really influential in keeping me going throughout the drought.

You need to be open to being a bit versatile, especially at first. We only offered bags to start with, then we started offering loose trailer loads. Not just because people want larger quantities, but some people would rather avoid using bags. Our bags are biodegradable, but ideally, we would like to source a compostable bag. So being open to change is important.

Ben RyanCow Pow

Google how to do it! This isn’t such a bad idea these days, but should be done with caution. My generation didn’t have such open access to information about starting up any sort of business. More seriously, I think it’s important to find a mentor – find experienced people who can steer you in the right directionA mentor and joining business and professional groups can open doors to opportunities for business growth and increasing your own knowledge base. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s where you gain your own experience and can learn and grow in the business. Along with that, don’t be afraid to ask questions. While none of us have all the answers, if we share, we all grow.  

Meg TicklePrecise Acupuncture & Massage

Seek advice. Get in touch with people who have done it before and are doing it successfully. Have pride in your business, but don’t be too proud to seek out knowledge from other people because it’s so valuable.

Lewis WheatleyCharlie’s Last Stand

Start small and realise you have got to put in the hours at markets in the rain and have disappointing days. Work your way up so you’re constantly putting money back into your business. Don’t try to go full tilt from day one – work your way there slowly. I only ever intended to do one market a month, but it became quite popular and before I knew it, I was working in this shop. Keep your goals realistic in the short term, and every time you reach your goal set a new one.

Laura BennettBennie Bottles