My best advice for entrepreneurs
Steve Purdham is the founder of 3rings – a smartplug designed to help families care for their elderly or vulnerable relatives living independently at home.
Imagine a world in which mum making her morning cup of tea, or dad turning on the TV, means that their family gets a reassuring message that everything is OK, or more importantly an alert if things are not. That is what 3rings does.
Here Steve gives his top tips for entrepreneurs looking to succeed in an uncertain market.
Small businesses are crucial to the success of the UK economy. In fact, small enterprises make up 99 percent of private sector businesses and generate around one third of private sector turnover, while also accounting for half of all private sector jobs. They provide economic growth and prosperity – and, as a result, they are often referred to as the ‘back bone’ of the economy.
However, current economic challenges and market uncertainties might make potential entrepreneurs nervous. I believe there has never been a better time for those people to shift their focus from the potential risks to the potential rewards that can come from starting-up on your own. Here are the three main pieces of advice I would give to someone looking to start their own business.
1 – Don’t be afraid to fail
This is something I feel strongly about. If you’re failing it means you’re actually doing something. If you’re not doing something, then you’re standing still and can never progress. You have to put yourself out there – you might succeed or you might fail but if you don’t try then you’ll never know. Always see any failure as part of the learning curve – it’s all experience gained and lessons learned.
2 – Be passionate and focused
Don’t lose sight of your passion and ambition. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then how can you expect your employees or customers to be? I have always been committed to developing my vision to find a simple way to help families look after their ageing loved ones, regardless of distance and time pressures. Three years on, everything we do is still about answering the single question ‘Is my ageing mum or dad OK today?’
It was this passion and focus that led to the invention of the 3rings Plug — the plug that cares. It’s so important to embrace the potential of your idea and develop it while keeping your eye on the finish line.
3 – Make the most of the advice and support that is available.
We wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t been able to access the right business advice and support. I would recommend looking at three key areas of support – financial, people and industry.
Importantly, when looking for investors make sure you have a synergy and understanding, and ensure that they have the skills you need to build and enhance your business. Our partnership with health and wellbeing company Westfield Health has opened up routes to new markets, their people have been inspirational and supportive, and we couldn’t have achieved some of the things we have without them. I know they are currently looking for other start-ups to support in similar ways so do get in touch with them for more details.
We also used Innovate UK for research and development support, and have been awarded several Innovate Smart grants that have helped us get the technology where we wanted to be. Among other things, this support enabled us to achieve a patent. Innovate UK works to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy, and their support has been invaluable.
Overall, be persistent and don’t give up! Follow your passion, enjoy the journey and maintain a laser-sharp focus on your end goal.