Getting Started – Business start ups
Going into this conference I was looking forward to hearing some tips and success stories of business start ups as this is something I would like to achieve in the near future. After hearing 3 speakers: Micheal Kelly, George Boyle and Lucy Masterson I could tell that although most entrepreneurs achieve the same things the routes can be quite different. For example Micheal founded GIY (grow it yourself) from the simple realization that 3 billion out of the 5 billion euro Ireland spends on imports can be grown yourself in Ireland. After telling his story he gave us a few key questions to answer before you decide to start a company. Will you still be able to pay your bills? Do you have the skills required? Is there a support network behind you? But most importantly and what I connected with the most was: Don’t die with your music still in you!
Another Irish success story came from Lucy who along with a few students tackled unemployment in Ireland one job at a time with Hireland.ie. She highlighted the importance of marketing and getting your message heard. About trying to tell a story because people are more likely to connect with something that relates to them and therefore pass on your message. Her best tip came at the end as she said “all they can say is no” Something true but often forgotten about due to societies view on certain things.
On the other hand George wasn’t as lucky, she was in many ways forced to become an entrepreneur after the firm she worked in went bust. She spoke about the steps you go through as an entrepreneur. Impulse: the idea, plan and identity. Freedom: the space, time and continuum. However all this lovely planning and wishful thinking comes to an abrupt end with Guilt: when you face reality, the financing, competition and the personal responsibilities. After all this comes the light at the end of the tunnel you forgive yourself and you start to consider your dreams. From her experience I can tell that setting up my own business will be a challenging process but one I’m looking forward to and as George said once you’re going just keep going.
The following two speakers brought up one of my key concerns, make a profit or change the world? I have always wondered about this myself, whether I have to pick one or if there is some halfway between the two. Thanks to Seán Coughlan from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and John Fitzsimons from Camara Education I soon realized this half way thing is possible. Like in Camara they help bring technology and teach technological literacy to those who don’t have access but at the end of the day they make a profit as well. This put me to ease knowing you can have the best of both worlds.
There were two panel discussions during the conference. The first regarding Social Entrepreneurship and the SOLOMO (Social, Local and Mobile) trend that is going to be a major player for the foreseeable future. However it was in the second one I had my ears perked up as they talked about how to finance a start up I was delighted to hear the amount of funding that is actually provided in Ireland. Something I think is necessary to keeping people in the country after college and a way to rebuild the economy. What I found most exciting was that DCU students were being offered a chance to start your own business risk free; at first it sounded too good to be true however UStart is a reality. All you have to do is make a group come up with an idea and if you get through the various stages they will fund the initial costs of the business as well as provide you with office space and accommodation. This is definitely an opportunity I’ll be taking up!
Towards the end the whole idea of stating up your own business was looking pretty good as we got to hear from DCU alumni who had succeeded. The one that connected with me the most was Conor Winders the CEO for Redwindsoftware. He was sure not the stereotypical CEO with jeans, a t-shirt and a mohawk. This just went to prove how things are changing for the better, away from the days where CEO where the hated people in suits who only had money on their mind. Conor told the story of his company, a process he said takes about 2 to 3 years. If you make it past this then you’re well on your way according to him. He also mentioned that if you are going to succeed your company can’t just be based on an exit strategy of getting it up and running only to then sell it on. From this also came the make or break factor of having a great team because under everything these are the people who make the company. When someone loves what they are doing this passion shines through their work and into the business itself. This emphasis on passion in business was echoed all throughout the conference by every speaker.
Especially from our last speaker Gerry Duffy, a 47 year old who has gone beyond all expectations and boundaries before him. He ran 32 marathons in 32 days as well as winning the UK decathlon ironman challenge. A truly inspiring person who believes that everyone has the ability to achieve super goals; simply by raising your standards to always be passionate and perform to the best of your abilities. His steps are to think about it, find your motivation, surround yourself with great people and have the correct mind set. In order to win a battle your mind must tell your body what to do. In my opinion developing yourself as a person would be the first step to be able to achieve the end goal of starting your company. He really gave me a lot to think about and a lot to aspire to with a moving video. He then left us with some final words of wisdom: You can’t fail if you learn from it!
From this conference I gathered you need to realistically look at your situation, be willing to dedicate yourself 100% as well as having the passion, ability and the right people to support you. I really will take a lot away from this conference and just below I’ll be putting the links to the various speakers and their companies also to the video shown by Gerry Duffy that truly shows nothing is impossible which left me in tears!
the video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLr9NlGzAkQ
If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Canexican5 “When the going gets tough the though get going”