Tips for starting a successful business

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Anyone can start their own business but a few tips can get you started on the right path to starting a successful business. [Contributed by ING Belgium]

Banking in Belgium – ING Added value in the capitalistic world essentially comes from entrepreneurs, from people starting a business. Occasionally the effect of starting a new business can be huge, particularly in the fast-changing interconnected global digital economy of today. The success of, for example, Facebook and Google is well-known. But even before our era, entrepreneurs created mega businesses out of a Saturday hobby in their garage.

Common traits of successful businesses

What most successful new ventures have in common is that they do not start with a champagne and caviar reception in a posh place. They rather grow out of low-cost hobbies that expand fast because the product or service actually fits a need and finds buyers. A new business does not necessarily need to be original. To be second-to-market can be worthwhile too, or to improve on a leading product or service. You can even recreate an old idea if you find out that the reason for it not to be successful in the first place has gone because of changing market circumstances or new technology.

Another common feature of entrepreneurs is that they keep on going and do not stop at failure. They have loads of energy and perseverance that make them into successful business leaders. They understand that they take risks but know that the rewards will outweigh them.

A regular bank is typically not the key partner for entrepreneurs in the beginning of the creation of a new product or service. The only exception is the operational services of managing money, for example, receiving and making payments. If the entrepreneur has the potential of a successful idea, venture capital and later on eventually the stock markets are more adapted to their needs. Bank lending comes only in after 'proof of concept' with the exception of an overdraft facility to match payments and receivables in the sales cycle.

Successful entrepreneurs also have a team of people around them, inside or outside their company. This is important to cover all the aspects of doing business. The entrepreneur should focus on the strategy and its implementation, not on all the operational aspects. A flock of sheep with 4 solid legs will perform better than one five legged one.

If you do not know where to start, visit the many Start Your Own Business events, some of which are for free, and learn from other entrepreneurs and from the different service providers in the field. There may be risks in talking to others about your idea; still it is needed to develop it into a good business venture. Eventually, if your idea concerns new intellectual property, you will have to protect it by patenting it. Still this is typically something happening down the road and not at the very beginning.

Implementation eats strategy for breakfast. Thinking is good but you learn most by doing things even if you would fail at first. But then it is a question of learning from that failure and keep on going to eventually succeed.

Contributed by Dave Deruytter, Head of Expats and Non-Residents / ING Belgium   
ING Bank Belgium


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