2 October 2019

Lawrence Jones MBE on the Sunseeker 131 - setting up a new businessSetting up a new business is daunting enough at the best of times. It is even more so when you have no experience of the industry into which you’re moving.

So how do you make it work?

When we set up UKFast I had no experience with hosting but I knew about people and service. Whilst UKFast is a technology brand, it is built on customer service and a focus on people. Now, I’m exploring new horizons once again.

Many years ago I set the goal to own a boat. But not just any boat, a Sunseeker. I could never justify buying a boat like this personally, so we are setting up a yacht business. It is completely new territory for us, which takes me back to those early days of UKFast. So, where do you start?

Here are five pieces of advice, both as a reminder for myself and for anyone looking to venture into a new area of business.

Learn about the market and your competitors

It is essential to know everything you can about the market you’re entering. Who are the market leaders? Who are your potential customers? Within that, you can find your niche, your USP.

That being said, remember to invest your energy into your business, not into focussing on your competitors. Looking too much at what other people are doing can quickly take up all of your time and energy, which would be much better invested into getting your own venture off the ground.

Get out there

Whenever I go to an exhibition, whatever the industry, I learn something new and meet someone new. At the Monaco Boat Show I picked up ideas not only for the yacht company but for our hotel, for UKFast and more. There are little tidbits to be picked up everywhere, as long as you’re out there looking for them.

In this week’s podcast, I speak to the CEO of Sunseeker London Group, Christopher Head. In the episode he talks about the value of expos. Whilst a stand may cost him upwards of a million pounds, the rewards are far greater. He knows which events his customers are at and invests in his presence there accordingly. It’s a great reminder that sometimes, you have to take the leap in this way.

Build relationships

When you’re moving into a whole new market, get to know as many people within that market as possible. Build great relationships with suppliers, complementary businesses and your competitors – business doesn’t have to be the stereotypical ‘dog eat dog world’.

I started building a relationship with Sunseeker many years ago. The way that they have always treated me, particularly in an industry where people make snap judgements, cemented the fact that when I made the move to buy a yacht, I knew it would be a Sunseeker. Other businesses that I met with to learn about their boats were quick to make a judgement about whether they thought I could afford to buy or not; that’s one of the worst things you can do in business.

Step back

One of the hardest things to do when setting up a business you are so passionate about is to remove your own personal tastes and choices. I dreamed for decades of owning a boat, but when it came to choosing décor and amenities, I didn’t look at what I wanted, my first question was: What does the market want?

What the market and your customers want is the most important thing, not your own personal taste.

Don’t be afraid to have big goals

It is daunting. It is terrifying. There are no two ways about it, moving into a whole new area of business is scary, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of setting big goals. Even if you don’t hit them, the journey of trying to reach them will be enough.

 

Have you ever ventured into unknown territory? Share your experience and advice in the comments below.

Listen to the full conversation with Sunseeker’s Chris on the Mind Your Own Business podcast. Subscribe to receive the latest episode direct to your device every Monday.

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