Ditch the 9-5 and flog the next big thing, in five simple steps.
When it comes to business know-how, you can do far worse than pricking up your ears to the words of Richard Reed. Creator of Innocent drinks – the healthy bottles of brightly-coloured, gloopy goodness that are far more appealing than eating 12 portions of fruit in one go – he and two pals jacked in their day jobs after selling their signature smoothies from a festival stall, requesting the punters place their empties In bins marked ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The question they were asking was, ‘Should we give up our day jobs to make smoothies?’ And the answer – judging by one bin overflowing, the other virtually empty – was a resounding yes.
Now, a mere decade and a half on, Innocent is worth hundreds of millions of pounds, and in February of this year was sold to drinks giant Coca-Cola. Not bad going for a colourful fruit juice. And Reed? He’s not doing too bad either, and is here to instil the self-same wisdom unto you.
STEP ONE: HAVE AN IDEA
“I find a lot of people pitch and say they’re going to do something, when they don’t actually have the thing in front of them. Firstly, work out what your idea is – if you’re gonna launch a new make-up brand, start working on your make-up. If it’s all about jumpers – start making jumpers. But having a product idea doesn’t mean you have a business idea. You need to work out how to turn the product into a business – how’s it going to be made, how’s it going to be sold, what’s it gonna cost, where’s it gonna be sold. Giving up a job is the easy bit. The hard bit is the grind of finding an idea, finding a group of people to do it with, testing it, writing the plan.”
STEP TWO: PUT THE HOURS IN
“People ask, ‘How can I set up my business when I have a full time job?’ That’s the challenge. It’s evenings, it’s weekends, it’s turning your computer monitor slightly to the left so your boss doesn’t see your actually working on your business. You’re an entrepreneur – you’ve got to bend the rules a little. You’ve got to be cheeky, you’ve got to be resilient, you’ve got to watch a lot less television and do a lot less social media. If you don’t have the drive to do that whilst holding down your job, you probably haven’t got the drive it’s going to require to launch and build and run that business.”
STEP THREE: TELL EVERYONE
“I’ve met a lot of would be entrepreneurs who say, ‘I’ve got a great idea for a business, but I can’t tell you, in case you steal it’. Just… no. You need to be putting the idea out to as many people as possible – the guy in the Starbucks queue, the person next to you at the cinema – as then you can get the feedback on it. What’s the downside – someone’s going to steal your idea, rip it off and do it instead of you? They’re not, and you’re probably exaggerating the significance of the idea. There’s much more to be gained in getting your idea out there than there is by hiding it.”
STEP FOUR: QUIT ON YOUR TERMS
“The right time to quit is when you’re ready, and only you are gonna know that. But the longer you leave it, the harder it’ll get. The best time to set up a business is soon as you can possibly do it. I’m not saying be reckless, there’s a lot to be said about doing the development and making sure you’ve got something good, but the most important thing after it all, is the start. And start small, start tiny. Do it from a market stall, that’s where we got started. It doesn’t have to be big, go door to door in your neighbourhood selling it. Everything big started small once.”
STEP FIVE: SELL UP WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO
“In terms of exiting, the classic rule is that you’ll get a better price if you sell when you don’t want to or don’t need to sell. Sell when you’re on a big upward growth curve, when it’s looking really exciting and that the business is going to keep on growing forever. But that’s only if you’re trying to maximise price. The best time to sell is when you want to sell. The money is no substitute for doing something that you love, believe in and get excited by.”
Richard Reed, co-founder of innocent drinks, shared more of his tips and advice for budding entrepreneurs at the third chapter of the innocent inspires series, along with a host of other successful British businesses. Take a look here to watch...