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How to pick a start-up idea: Start with you and keep it casual

By Fiona Quinn, Business Coach No matter what your current situation – finances, family, qualifications or experience – you are free to choose how you want to live your life and what you want your work to look like. If you want to run a small business that allows you

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By Fiona Quinn, Business Coach

No matter what your current situation – finances, family, qualifications or experience – you are free to choose how you want to live your life and what you want your work to look like. If you want to run a small business that allows you to sail around the world with your kids, or if you want to spend the next 10 years building the next AirB&B, both are open to you. But, this ability to choose what it is that you want is a key point that many founders miss; remember that your start-up is supposed to support the life you want. Market opportunity is important, but it’s not where your focus should be.

So let’s start with you.

What do you want?

I can guess that the main reason you want to start a business is probably for lifestyle reasons, to one degree or another. But in order to end up with a business that delivers the kind of lifestyle and control that you want, it’s a good idea to start with figuring out exactly what these are for you.

They differ for everyone so spend some time jotting down what you’re after. A good question to ask yourself is; if in 6 months I could be creating anything in my life (work, family, personal development, travel, money, etc) what would that look like? Be honest. And consider it without judgement as to whether you think it might actually be possible or not, just dream.

From the answers you can then start to think about what you would need from a new business in order to create this life style that you’re after. If you’re going to run with an idea, what must it be able to provide you?

Perhaps you’d need to be location independent or you know you definitely don’t want to work more than 15 hours a week. You might also consider the type of work, clients, level of tech involved, amount of travel, level of income possible, time until you start generating income etc. Once you have a list of criteria for your business, you can then select your top 3 idea criteria.

Consider what you already have

You don’t need a loan or investment to start a business. We have access to a lot more resources than we often think and in a lot of cases contacts can be more valuable than money.

So lets consider what you already have. Start with a blank piece of paper, forget any business ideas you might already have and just list;

  • all of your skills,
  • all of the sectors you have contacts in, and
  • all of the physical assets you have access to.

From these three lists you can now link up existing resources to create new business ideas. They’ll naturally be easier to implement that a random idea where you have no contacts in the industry.

For example, you might know someone in the property sector and you might have a natural skill for decor. Why not try consulting for property professionals to help them sell/lease property by redesigning them? Just have a play around, list any ideas, whether they make any sense or not. After a while you’ll start to see potential business opportunities all round you.

Think of it as a side project

The only thing standing in your way now is actually doing it. Doing the stuff that’s going to get your business off the ground. It’s easy to do the work around the work, it often doesn’t require us to ask anything of anyone else and doesn’t feel scary, but it also doesn’t move us forward and won’t tell us if the core concept of our business actually has legs.

The best way, I find, to get going and do the work is to think of it not as staring a business, but as running an experiment. The reason being is that if it’s your business, your baby, this thing you’re precious about, you’ll find it really hard to share it and put it out into the world for fear of judgement. But if it’s just a casual side project it doesn’t matter if it fails or someone doesn’t like it.

So start with the absolute core concept of your business idea. If that’s offering design services to property professionals, don’t create a website, or a blog, or business cards. Forget spending months on a business plan. The core assumption you need to test is “Do property professionals want design services?”. The best approach to this is that explained by Rob Fitzpatrick in The Mom Test. It walks you through talking to customers in such a way as to avoid false data and actually get some good evidence that your business has legs. Once you know that your customers want what you’re offering, start trialling your product/service with them while it’s still rough and ready. Then you can iterate and mould it in real time with direct customer feedback.

To sum up, your next steps are:

  1. What do you want from your business? Find your top 3 idea criteria.
  2. What resources do you already have? Come up with an idea from these, that fits your 3 idea criteria.
  3. What’s the core concept of your idea? Test this assumption using The Mom Test approach and keep it casual.

If you’d like to follow my journey on becoming a potentialist sign up to my occasional newsletter or follow me on Twitter.

I’d love to hear what projects you’re working on so do get in touch fiona.quinn@hotmail.co.uk.

www.fionaquinncoaching.com

 

 

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Yummy Mummy….. hmm…. who’s got the time?

By Vanessa Corrigan, Personal Image Coach Having a child is quite simply the biggest change in your life you will ever experience. Suddenly it’s no longer all about you, and the simple things in life that you took for granted are never quite the same…… a soak in the bath,

By Vanessa Corrigan, Personal Image Coach

Vanessa Corrigan

Having a child is quite simply the biggest change in your life you will ever experience. Suddenly it’s no longer all about you, and the simple things in life that you took for granted are never quite the same…… a soak in the bath, a hot cup of coffee or a visit to the hairdressers become precious moments because now there are little people who totally rely on you for their every need.

Add another child or two and trying to juggle getting back to work, and you can whisk your life into such a frenzy that thinking about your appearance comes way down your list of priorities.

Perhaps the clothes from your  pre-motherhood life are completely redundant, especially if you worked in an office, and after nine months of pregnancy, wearing all things stretchy and baggy, you don’t even remember how you used to look or what you liked wearing. Now your clothes just need to wash well and be comfortable. As for high heels…..you wonder if you can even walk in them anymore, it seems you no longer have the balance you once did. Flip flops work well these days because you can put them on without using your hands.

So now you’re thinking about getting back to work, part time, full time, retraining to start a new career, or possibly setting up on your own. Whichever you choose, your confidence and emotions need to be working hard to get you back out there after taking a break from the world of work.

This is a really good time to evaluate what’s going on in your wardrobe. Do you have clothes and accessories that enhance your body shape, colouring and work for your personality and lifestyle? Or is it a jumbled mess of mistake purchases old and new, mixed up with a few things you love and summer and winter all thrown in together?

Perhaps you have got used to scraping your hair back into ponytail and given up on wearing make-up?

If any of this rings true my advice is to take a little time to get yourself sorted before adding a new work life into the mix. It doesn’t take long if you have a little help understanding what suits you, and having the confidence that you’re looking great will lift your spirits and have everyone wondering how you manage to look so fantastic with such a busy life.

Vanessa x

www.vanessacorrigan.co.uk

Vanessa Corrigan

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Interesting insights from a report looking at the balance of work and family life

The Fawcett Society – the UK’s leading charity for women’s equality and rights at home, at work and in public life – has published their report: ‘Parents, work and care: Striking the balance’ which reveals some interesting insight into attitudes towards mothers and fathers at work, from their poll of

The Fawcett Society – the UK’s leading charity for women’s equality and rights at home, at work and in public life – has published their report: ‘Parents, work and care: Striking the balance’ which reveals some interesting insight into attitudes towards mothers and fathers at work, from their poll of 8,000 people.

Some of the key findings include:

People want balance: Over two thirds (68%) of people say that when they think about their career choices they think about whether a job is likely to allow them to balance work and family

72% of dads vs 79% of mums look for flexible work after their children are born

Many people struggle to balance work and care: 32% of parents lie to their boss to take time off to spend with their children – 38% of dads lie

Old stereotypes about working parents persist:

–          29% of people think men are more committed to their job after having a  baby

–          46% of people think women are less committed to their job after having a baby

People want equality: Nearly 7 in 10 people believe that men who take time off work to look after a baby should be entitled to the same pay and amount of leave as women

Read the full report here…

Parents-Work-and-Care-2016

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Returnships: an innovative programme to help women transition back into work

Returnships were invented by Goldman Sachs in 2008 to stem the flow of professional women not returning to work after extended periods on maternity leave. The Returnship programme aims to encourage women back after 2+ years career break by providing a short 10 – 12 weeks paid contract to quickly

Returnships were invented by Goldman Sachs in 2008 to stem the flow of professional women not returning to work after extended periods on maternity leave. The Returnship programme aims to encourage women back after 2+ years career break by providing a short 10 – 12 weeks paid contract to quickly transition back into a professional career.

During this period returners complete a commercial project, using their existing skills, and are also given support & mentoring to help their professional confidence and reintroduction to work.  At the end of the contract they have the chance of a permanent position within the host company.   Increasingly more corporates (O2, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Vodafone, etc) are using this innovative model to attract highly skilled women back into work after a career break and in the UK this has been led by companies such as Women Returners and Capability Jane.

IMG_school run Mum

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