Centre for Entrepreneurship>Blog>Making your idea work - Lee Sharma

What does it take to make your idea work?

​​​Lee as a judge at Countdown to Launch 2015

We know the stats; more than half of all new businesses fail within the first five years. So us entrepreneurs that take the plunge are always on the lookout for hints and tips on that age-old question: how will I know if my business will succeed? A Google search will reveal that there are tonnes of pieces on how to build a successful business and we've all read our fair share on the topic. But there is one key factor which is often overlooked particularly in the early stages of venture creation; you are your business!

I am a firm believer that you are the root of your business and everything stems from that. So your business will behave like you and mirror how you plan, do and communicate. If you let me take this a stage further and throw in a bit of science, I believe that we can develop successful businesses by firstly developing a set of successful personal ingredients or behaviours.

So what are these magical ingredients? I've worked with thousands of entrepreneurs in addition to carrying out academic research on many of the planet's top entrepreneurs. This information highlights there is a cluster of key ingredients that we should all be checking ourselves against. I call these the Magic P's:

Passion: When we start a business we are making a commitment; for better and for worse, in sickness and in health. In reality, we are not going to love our business at all times but we should be passionate about the work, the lifestyle and, most importantly, our customers. If we aren't then we need to relight our fires by spending some time in the areas of the business which excite us the most.

Planning: There is the obvious need to plan for our business and keep on top of things to ensure success. However, as we are our business then we shouldn't forget to plan for our life too. This means keeping healthy and happy with time planned in for family, friends, relaxation and exercise. This is very challenging for the workaholics amongst us so blocking out your Outlook with "Free Time" is a good starting point.

Pitching: As an entrepreneur, we are always pitching at some level. This doesn't mean we all have to be charisma-fuelled extroverts capable of holding an audience captive for hours. We just need to be able to communicate our key messages clearly and passionately. The hard work on this will show clear benefits in our personal and business confidence levels too.

Performance: The quest for tracking and beating all our direct competition can be exhausting. We perhaps need to think about this differently and just aim to better ourselves every day; so think yoga not boxing! The best way to better ourselves is through learning new skills and nowadays, there are a range of fantastic online resources at your fingertips (e.g. Tech City's Digital Business Academy, Ted Talks, Udemy, etc.)

Pounds: A common issue with any business is keeping track of the pounds. If this isn't something you are keen on doing then be sure to have someone else doing this for you. This could be anyone from a family member through to a firm of accountants. I'm a big fan of keeping financial information accessible at all times and with cloud computing we have no excuses! A huge sense of control will return once the financial fog clears.

Perseverance: There are countless tales as to the value of perseverance in being successful ranging from Thomas Edison to James Dyson. If we look at any challenge, be it a business, a run or a detox, when the going gets tough, our brains will start screaming at us to give up. This is when surrounding yourself with trusted and positive people will see you through including those who have been there and done it.

Perception: This underpins everything else so appropriate that it's left to last. You have to truly believe in your heart of hearts that you can make your business a success. The best way to build self-belief is through positive experiences. Set challenging but achievable objectives and then be sure to celebrate these successes when you get there. You're doing great!

As humans, we will always be a work in progress irrespective of our business successes. We must take time now and again to check ourselves against the ingredients of success outlined. We should then set clear actions on how to improve these and your startup or business success will surely follow. Oh and when it does, you tweet me from your yacht, jet or private island and tell me so.


Lee Sharma
CEO, Simply Do