As we hit the height of summer in the UK, hundreds of thousands of employees will be counting the days to their summer holiday – when they can jet off, relax and soak up the sun. Having a vacation is hugely important for our emotional wellbeing. It allows us to think about things clearly, without being distracted by the daily stresses, which normally stop our minds from wandering freely.
We have all heard stories about successful entrepreneurs who came up with their winning business idea on holiday (my personal favourite is Kevin Systrom, who came up with the idea for Instagram when he was strolling on a beach in Baja California, Mexico.) So it got the Sandler office wondering about how many businesses in the UK started in the same way – a moment of inspiration that hit on holiday, when someone could daydream without distraction.
So we commissioned a survey of 1,000 small business owners, who had successfully been in business for over five years. We asked them questions about where they were when they got their idea for a business, what encouraged them to take this idea and launch their own company.
The results really surprised – nearly one in five (nineteen percent) of the small business owners had their startup idea when they were on holiday. If you correlate that with the number of small businesses in the UK, then it equates to over 900,000 businesses whose life started as a holiday daydream. The figure is staggering and testament to the power of relaxation and what the mind is capable of when you take break from the daily grind.
But having the idea is just the first step – turning it into a successful business is the hard part. For many people the idea just remains a fantasy. It takes a huge amount of guts to take an idea and make it a reality. We run a course on ‘No Guts, No Gain!’ so we fully appreciate the barriers that people can put up, and why taking this leap can feel like a frightening step into an abyss of uncertainly. For our respondents, the main issue that held them back was money and the need to take a salary.
Concerns over money are totally understandable, especially if it’s your first business. Suddenly you feel like you are the master of your own destiny and the pressure to hit the ground running can feel suffocating. People forget that the job they are leaving was for a business that was also subject to the same market forces. By taking the lead they actually have much more control over their own success – they just lack confidence.
Having a support network can help build this confidence. We asked the small business owners about who gave them the most encouragement to start their business. Thirty percent said that friends were the biggest support, followed by partners and colleagues (both at twenty two percent.) The average amount of time between thinking up their idea and starting business was approximately six months, so for this year’s holiday dreamers, their business could be in operation by the end of the year.
So as you read this, just think, should inspiration strike while you are on holiday, you could be running your own business by Christmas. It won’t be easy, but with a little confidence and a good support network, you will be halfway there. Having a clear business development plan and process for sales is the final step to realising success.
No one has ever said that the first year of business is easy – there is a lot to learn. You will come in with a certain area of expertise and quickly find that you need to wear multiple hats, especially in the initial stages. This can be hard and you will find that you are weaker in some areas, but the trick is not to beat yourself up about this. You just need to identify the areas that you are weak and then arrange some development training that will help you plug the gaps.
Millions of people in the UK have already taken the leap and started their own business. The country is becoming much more entrepreneurial – which is great for business and customers alike. Should you be hit by a winning idea this summer don’t be afraid to embrace it, and run with it. By next summer you could be the boss of a successful business, which is delighting and winning customers.
Shaun Thomson, CEO of Sandler Training (UK)
Shaun is CEO of Sandler Training (UK), a business development consultancy. Sandler enables a cultural shift across the whole business, resulting in an enhanced customer experience and reduced churn. Sandler Training (UK) has a multi-million pound turnover via its 28-franchised office across the UK. Shaun splits his time between supporting and growing his franchise network, as well as working alongside entrepreneurial companies to help them achieve their ambitions through his own Oxfordshire training centre.