What ingredients make a successful entrepreneur?

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Karen Holden, founder and MD of A City Law Firm

Business Leader Magazine recently spoke with the founder and managing director of A City Law Firm, Karen Holding. Her firm specialises in supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups from across the UK.

With a growing number of start-up and scale-up businesses emerging, many of them are seeking advice as well as sources of funding. Karen explains the role of an entrepreneur and why there is an ever-growing number of start-ups.

What makes an entrepreneur?

Anyone that seeks to set up a venture or business or invest in a business taking that ultimate jump into the unknown. The willingness to commit to the hours and pressure if a new venture with full vigour

What makes a successful entrepreneur? And how can you help their idea grow?

A good entrepreneur will take only calculated risks fully armed with all the information. They must accept mistakes will be made, but innovation and success means you learn from them and continue forward. You must be committed and passionate about what you are doing and have a constant reminder of why you are doing what you’re doing as very long hours will be required early days.

I feel staff are our the most valuable asset in most businesses and success will rely in part on them. So, a good entrepreneur should not only identify the right people but feed their enthusiasm, offer incentives and retain that talent.

A good entrepreneur will see what others don’t like a new merging market for its services or a new product it could add to its current offering but never taking on too much too soon.

In the tech world we live in, is age a factor in the number of young entrepreneurs we are seeing?

We are seeing much younger entrepreneurs coming through the London funding sector with amazing innovation but they need to quickly develop business acumen, which can often be a hurdle, so many need a mentor or professional advice. Much more is being done to encourage people into the technology sector and we see a lot more drive to encourage women and mums. There are many groups, incubators and talks pushing this forward and we ourselves have been asked to attend schools and university to talk on this subject

Regarding start late and as a parent too I talk on this subject to empower others to take the plunge only if it’s right for them.

I myself started late in life setting up my business from scratch in my mid-thirties. I was still very naive and risk adverse at the time, but having travelled, worked for others and got married, I felt secure and ready to build a business. I had the incentive of being my own boss ready for when I had a family and to deliver the services I wanted rather than being driven purely for money.

Are there any characteristics that the entrepreneurs you have worked with share?

They are very passionate about what they do and have a clear goal whether it be to sell or organically grow. Many are risk takers and not adverse to trying new things. Some over complicate matters or rush into things though so the ability to reflect and control urges is key.

What is your favourite entrepreneurial idea that you have aided?

I have a client currently who is scaling up her fashion tech business in the UK and her goal is to move overseas shortly. She’s very innovative and committed and we helped set up her business. We then secured an investor and SEIS assurance; secured a platform with the investors to grow but protect her as a founder and we have opened opportunities to her to pitch and share her offerings. My client is quickly becoming a huge success and we are happy to have gone and continue to be on the journey with her.

If you could give a piece of advice to anyone looking to drive their entrepreneurial idea – what would it be?

Avoid the common mistakes by:

  1. Getting good advisors around you early
  2. Protect your cash flow & understand it
  3. Protect your IP
  4. Value your employees but protect yourself against any competition
  5. Update your documents as you grow; protect yourself as a founder; do not rely on templates

How can a start-up become a success?

Only take on contracts it is genuinely ready to service. So, making sure they don’t over stretch themselves or restrict cash flow by expanding too quickly.

Be fully aware of all the options and protections available to the business be it insurance, legal advice, funding, good accountant structuring them and securing cash flow.  So be prepared and one step ahead of the game

What does it take to grow to the next stage?

Commitment and passion will always be key.  If seeking funding keep concise accounts, a solid IP portfolio and legal documents. A solid platform to develop including a founders’ agreement that mirrors a business plan so you all know and agree where you are going no how you are getting there. Monitoring this and holding each other accountable will help you achieve your goals

Why has there been such a rise in the number of start-up companies?

There is a lot more interest in the UK presently from investors, banks, angel groups assisting young businesses thrive.  At one time unless you could secure cash from friends or a bank, options were limited now there is raft of opportunities.  Incubators make office space and mentoring accessible like never before

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