There are a lot of quotes permeating in the digital ether about starting businesses, some of them aspirational, many contradictory in terms of their “steer” on how to progress. The simple fact is that there is no one set route to success (however you might choose to define “success”).
However, you do have to take steps along that road in order to achieve that success. The question is how many and when – risking the security of a regular salary in today’s economic climate is brave.
Guernsey business innovation
Guernsey has a long history of innovation in many forms. Whether it be privateering, printing, growing or wealth management, developing new ideas or different approaches has long been a hallmark of the island, if not a necessity. In today’s digital world, differentiation is very difficult, but new ideas and fresh approaches have not ceased. It is more important now than ever to innovate, operate more efficiently and encourage revolutionary thinking in order to differentiate ourselves.
Ideas are naturally both home-grown and imported. Being open to external input can help move projects along at an exponential rate, especially where local resource or skillsets are limited. Operating collaboratively is something of a controversial proposition, particularly when we have long been used to protecting ideas, intellectual property or contacts fiercely.
Launching a start-up
Collaboration is however vital in terms of nurturing start-ups. Sharing experiences, learning from mistakes made or facilitating introductions all help those facing what can seem an insurmountable wall of issues. Accessing the right mentors at an early stage can prevent entrepreneurs from pursuing unprofitable work streams, highlight regulatory hurdles and ease access to investment and other contacts. The important aspect is to encourage those with ideas to take the first steps towards making their vision a reality. There will always be risks to navigate, but taking informed decisions can make all the difference.
Having a core focal point for development of this ecosystem is vital. Previously this function was performed for many years by Startup Guernsey (amongst others), latterly with support from the Digital Greenhouse team. The latter has now taken up the mantle and has been working on developing a focal hub for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, not merely digital. The plans for developing the entrepreneurial space are impressive and build on the years of extensive and positive work undertaken by Startup.
The provision of foundation-level information on starting businesses is important, but one of the highlights has been the focus on connecting entrepreneurs with mentors, both on and off-island. The energy and enthusiasm from entrepreneurs is infectious and it has been a privilege for Appleby to work with a number of local businesses in recent months. We encourage you to get involved where you can and provide input and support.
There will of course be ideas which don’t work, businesses which fail to scale and external factors which impede progress, but providing guidance can help avoid some of the pitfalls. Looking back on the development of Amazon following a recent television documentary, it is amazing to consider how the fundamental concept was based around improving customer experience by use of data. A concept which these days is taken as read. Who knows where the next Amazon might come from…..?
First published in Bailiwick Express‘ Connect, April 2020