Lesson #1 in starting up: Only fools rush in

Elvis spotted true wisdom when he sang Alexander Pope’s immortal line “fools rush in (where angels fear to tread)”. According to The Telegraph, more than half of UK start-ups fail won’t survive past five years. Given the odds, it takes quite a leap of faith, as well as the experience and confidence, to choose to pursue a career where so many others have failed. Yet leap I did, and not just tentatively, but head-first, with a run up and everything.

Since I was young I’ve wanted to be good at something immediately. Aged 4, there were tantrums at tapdancing (see my stroppy mug on the right) when I discovered I would actually have to practice. When I started freelancing as a marketing consultant it was no different. I wanted a super slick website, a list of interesting clients and a shiny business card to hand to folks before I’d even written a business plan. But I soon discovered the perils of rushing my set-up too quickly.

Launching a website can be a complicated, even if you have some experience. There’s an order to everything, you see. If you buy a domain first, from a company you heard one person recommend, you might find that the hosting site you then choose would have thrown the domain in for free as part of the package. In too much of a hurry to read the terms and conditions for your domain? You might miss the clause saying their basic package has no privacy settings so every web design company under the sun will be calling you to offer their services.

All of these steps take up a lot of time. If you’re trying to acquire clients at the same time, you’ll soon start to find yourself desperately searching for the spare minutes in the day to get them done. I don’t recommend that you try to find them at the end of a long day working, when you’re tired and you need some downtime. Nor would I suggest, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, that you rely on finding them when your baby is napping – babies can sense when an important task needs to be done during naptime and will almost always stage a protest. Wherever possible I think it’s probably much more sensible to take your time doing the set-up admin for your venture before taking on work for others, so that you can give it the attention it deserves to become a success.

So yes, I think Messrs Pope and Presley would think me quite foolish for my hasty start. But my hope is that by sharing this blog with you, I might help spare you the same mistake.

References:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/11174584/Half-of-UK-start-ups-fail-within-five-years.html