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Decisions you’ll make: A Guide from Workthere

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9/6/2018

At Workthere, we see plenty of entrepreneurs come through our door, from the young start-ups looking to put down their first roots, to more established companies growing rapidly. There is a mountain of decisions which entrepreneurs need to plough through, especially in those crucial first few years, which is why we’ve created a handy guide for those founding their first business. By commissioning research from SME business owners and entrepreneurs, and with help from our friends at Yopa, a fully-fledged start-up focusing on real estate, our guide should help navigate the choppy waters of business by giving real examples and advice when it comes to decision making.

Building the brand

Building the brand is THE most important decision an entrepreneur can make for their business, according to our research. Establishing your name in the market is critical for your success, and if customers or clients don’t buy into the brand, then no matter how well you run other aspects of the business, you will not get off the ground. Almost half (47%) of entrepreneurs put building the brand at the top of their priority list, and it’s easy to see why.

Everything from choosing the company name, to deciding how much to spend on marketing falls under this category. It’s a part of the business that can’t be ignored, and can be a real headache for those who aren’t naturally inclined to think about their ‘brand’; our research shows a third of entrepreneurs find this difficult.

Yopa’s Daniel Attia had his own battle when trying to establish his brand in the property world. He says: “It’s not all plain sailing when you start a business - as any entrepreneur knows. The most difficult decision I had to make was completely reinventing the business model and the brand nine months into setting up Yopa. We started as an online-only estate agents, but soon realised that we needed agents on the ground to make it work. We had to pivot quite aggressively and change our tack completely. It was hard work, but it made us a much better company.”

Our advice? Ask for feedback on every element of your brand – from logos and company names to website design and marketing priorities. It can be easy to pursue a strict vision of what you want from your business, but external feedback will help give you an idea what your target market want.

Finance

Money is crucial for the running of any business, and so it makes sense for it to rank highly in terms of decision making concerns. Our research found that 42% of entrepreneurs think that meeting financial targets to stay in profit is the most important decision they make on a daily basis. But there’s not just long term profits to think about, 39% think that decisions involving the day-to-day running of finance are the most important, so it really is critical to put as much time and brain power into tackling these decisions.

Like many things, finances differ for different businesses. If you’re a small burgeoning business then bootstrapping your company could be beneficial. It encourages you to prioritise what you need to spend your money on, and what can wait until you have more funds.

If you already have some funding, or an investment in the pipeline you might be able to think slightly bigger. If there’s money to be spent, then getting the right advice at this stage is crucial if it’s your first business. Speak to experienced business owners, who have been in your position before, and see what their advice is. While the decision ultimately needs to be your own, being informed on all the potential pros and cons is a smart idea. Remember that 40% of business owners struggle to make decisions when it comes to funding, so you’re not alone.

Work/life balance

Achieving work/life balance is an issue that many entrepreneurs struggle with, and it’s been a hot topic for discussion over the years. The best way to think about this starts with how you prefer to work, and what sort of balance works for the sector you’re in. You then need to think about your employees. For example, a young workforce may want more flexibility with their hours, whereas a more mature work force may want a more traditional approach to their working day.

Work/life balance isn’t just about your employees, and to avoid burnout you need to think about yourself too. 42% of entrepreneurs claim to have made decisions in the past that have given them a sleepless night, so it’s no surprise that work/life balance is the third highest priority for entrepreneurs - with 42% believing it is the most important decision they could make. While taking your work home with you can mean finding a solution in a creative way, taking mental breaks away from your work is important too.

Staff hires

It might be years before you think you’ll need an extra pair of hands – or it might be a matter of weeks. Either way, surrounding yourself with the best staff to represent your business is important. 82% of entrepreneurs believe that hiring the right people is crucial to a successful business, and 17% of entrepreneurs think that hiring decisions are the most important decision they can make. However, it is also notoriously one of the most difficult. 

Financial entrepreneurs struggle the most with hiring decisions (46%), while manufacturing entrepreneurs (38%) and tech entrepreneurs (31%) also find them tricky. Entrepreneurs within the arts and culture find hiring decisions the easiest (6%), so your sector can really make a difference when it comes to employing staff.

When deciding who to hire, Yopa’s Daniel Attia says: “Never be the smartest person in the room - if you are then your hiring process is wrong.”

Cal Lee of Workthere says that in his experience of dealing with entrepreneurs, hiring decisions are usually one of the main priorities: “We were surprised that staff hires didn’t come higher up the list for entrepreneurs, as having a reliable team is crucial - especially during periods of rapid growth. Other research has shown it can cost as much as £30k to hire the wrong person[1] so it’s essential that business owners are getting this right. Give your hiring decisions the time they deserve, and never be rash when it comes to bringing new people into your business.”

Office

A suitable working space can be a crucial factor in the success of your business; and 84% of entrepreneurs agree. Whether you’re using it to attract new clients, new employees or just to create a more professional environment, an office is a significant milestone for any small business. 63% of business owners claim the location of their business is crucial to its success, so take the time to think about where you want to be geographically.

Technology is also a priority for entrepreneurs when picking their office space, with 68% saying that having the best technology available is crucial. Cost efficient space (56%), location (39%) & IT (23%) topped the office wish-list for entrepreneurs who were picking their first office.

Yopa’s Daniel Attia said a  good value space was the most important thing when he decided on Yopa’s first office: “The most important thing for a young business is finding space that’s inexpensive. When we were starting out cost was the most important factor. However, as businesses mature and look to attract the right talent you need to find an office that offers more than just a cheap space”.

Workthere’s Cal Lee has worked with many entrepreneurs looking for an eclectic specification for their offices: “Different companies need very different spacess for their various stages of business growth. Whether it’s as minimal as a desk and a chair in a shared office, or a full blown 200+ person office block, getting the best deal possible is critical for any business, as no one wants to spend any more than they have to.

Finding an office doesn’t have to be hard work. If you have a list of criteria, serviced office brokers such as Workthere can do all the legwork for you and save you money. Outsourcing jobs like these can mean entrepreneurs have more time to focus on the needs and demands of their growing business.

 

[1] http://www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/recruitment/it-costs-over-30k-to-replace-a-staff-member/50677