10 things to know when starting your own business

10 things to know when starting your own business

Recently, Ewa Zmysłowska has become the CXO of White Label Coders. She previously filled the role of COO, after having founded the company with her husband Paweł, who represents the company at international events, over 13 years ago. White Label Coders specializes in supporting businesses across the globe with programming services, while specializing in high-performance web-based systems. WLC’s reach spans continents, including customers based in:  the US, the United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland.

This article will reveal ways to lead and successfully develop your own business while continuing educational endeavours and fulfilling your family role in addition to setting aside time to pursue your passions. It is a perfect example of how private and professional life are woven into the fabric of identity. This story also offers 10 tips on how to become an entrepreneur and start your own business.

So, the story begins just days after Ewa defended her doctoral dissertation on July 13, 2006.

1.When should you start your own business?

Shortly after defending her doctoral dissertation, Ewa’s boss offered her a job at the university.  However, in that case, she would have to go to the USA for two years of applied research. This was not an option. Ewa had just gotten married, and her husband ran a software company in Poland, keeping them rooted there. When Ewa and Paweł went on their honeymoon to London shortly after their wedding, they were hit will progressively worse information about Paweł’s company each day. Within three weeks of being abroad, Paweł’s IT company had simply fallen apart, due to a lack of support, because the support, i.e. Paweł, was on his honeymoon. In the end, what they had left was walks around London, money from their wedding and Ewa’s studio. Upon returning home, one day at dinner Ewa’s mother suggested that they start a new company, but this time with Ewa’s help. They decided to take on the challenge. Paweł had experience in web production at a time when there was no Google or smartphones. On 1.12.2006 Paweł registered their company and it’s internet domain.

When should you start your own business? NOW!

Establishing a company always comes with difficult decisions, inconveniences and challenging problems, but there is never a time that these issues wouldn’t call for your attention. What’s really key is your determination. If you’re not determined, there will never be a good time to start your business. In actuality, the only thing holding you back is yourself, which is a much deeper issue to address.  Additionally, the market will show you the path to follow. This is because it’s the market that determines your success. Does your idea appeal to a particular target group of potential customers? What and whose needs does it fulfill?

Your business must change and develop constantly, because the rapid development of technology and the shifting needs of your customers determine the competitive nature of the market. If you don’t respond to the needs of your customer in time, you’ll lose them and your business too.

There will always be a reason not to take the plunge. The fact of the matter is, you can’t build up a customer base if you’re not in the market. If you get started today, you also start building up your experience today, not two, three or even five years down the road. It’s worth starting sooner rather than later.

2. How can you come up with a good business idea?

After starting her studies at Silesian Polytechnical University, Ewa knew that she both wanted to be a highly educated engineer and to run her own design firm.

Everyone wants to come up with a sound business idea. However, the best way to achieve business success is to take what you do best and do it.

When Ewa began studying IT in 2000, there were no analytics in IT or IT project management.  Whereas today, these areas are amongst her specializations.

To start your own business, answer the following questions:

– what do you want to do in 5 years?

– what are your dreams?

– what are you ready for today?

– does full-time work give you the opportunity to make your dreams come true?

– how do you come up with a business idea that will bring in millions?

There is no way a million-dollar-idea just pops into your head, ready to roll out. Take what you know how to do and do it to the best of your ability to the extent that you can afford to do it.

It’s worth testing things out on potential clients, as well as, examining your clients’ needs and their current issues. This will help you confirm whether you’ve come up with the right solution. If at this stage you find that your business idea has garnered interest, you have a real chance at finding success. In the event that prototyping your idea with potential clients proves to not appeal to them, you now have the knowledge necessary to head back to the drawing board. A lack of interest proves that you’ll likely never “deliver” this project. In the case of a moderate amount of interest, then there is a call for more research, i.e. potential customers can direct you to develop a profitable idea that would otherwise fail, by expressing their needs.

3.How can you get the money to start?

Ewa’s friends said that she was lucky to have money from the wedding to start a good business. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The brilliant thought that human creativity kicks in when the coffers are empty, Ewa took to heart. When they first started the company, Paweł, without Ewa’s agreement, went to the store and came away with a laptop on credit. He returned home quite satisfied with the laptop in hand. Ewa, however, was worried about how they would pay for this laptop. They both knew that without the laptop, they couldn’t program websites for clients, it would be more difficult for them to communicate with clients and they would have to manually issue invoices. At that moment, all they had was a studio, Paweł’s piano, an old car and a laptop which they didn’t even own. Most importantly though, they could already run their business. When they took both the old car and laptop and to visit a client to Katowice, they were utilizing their resources and seizing an opportunity.

To start a business you need to have adequate, even minimal, resources.

Take the risk and buy a laptop, even on credit. You have to believe in your ability to cover your costs, because carrying the confidence that your expertise and dedication can float your project are the backbone of your success.

You need to find the resources for starting your business: free time, the right attitude (solving  customers’ problems), a space to work out of, an old car, your network. Look at everything that’s around you, not just your financial resources. Looking at resources, it’s important to realize money is not the only resource that can get you where you need to go. The basic approach an entrepreneur needs to take is: What other resources do I have that can be monetized?

4.What if money really determines the development of your company?

If you have to pay for services on the market to grow your business, then without that money stay put.

Paweł studied computer science and is still passionate about it. During his studies, internet access was limited, mobile internet access didn’t exist. It was only available on a cable. At that time, Paweł lived in an estate for single-family housing, and quickly realized that he could connect these buildings to the internet. A drill, a ladder, a shovel and a cable were all it took. You had to dig a trench, insert a patch cable, run the cable to your home, supply a patch cable lead, plug it into an outlet, and sometimes configure a router. There were about 100 of these houses. Paweł connected every one of them to the internet.

Ewa and Paweł sold this internet network to a larger company which, as part of the settlement, paid installments over a two-year period and provided them with free office space during that time.

Physical labor can help accumulate capital. If you know there’s a niche in the market and you have the right skills, use them. This will help you raise capital or trade for other goods or services. These services have real value and can be a great resource for growing your company.

5.Hire someone

When Paweł was connecting 50-60 houses to the internet, he needed help, since he was studying during the week and working on weekends. A friend made a recommendation for an employee he could take on. On the first day, Paweł told him exactly what had to be done in order to connect the internet to the building. The work seemed pretty straight forward … so on the first day of work, Paweł called his new employee to ask how things were going, but nobody answered the phone. When Paweł came to see what was going on, all he found was an  abandoned shovel.

Another colleague answered the advertisement posted in the university IT department. Marek worked with Paweł for over a year, right up until he defended his master’s thesis. At that point he  decided that he wanted to pursue something more ambitious. He’s currently employed by Motorola.

The good will of employers and employees isn’t enough for successful recruiting. In fact, poor fits and employee turnover are just a normal part of the process.

When hiring your first employees, do not compare them to your own abilities, you can’t assume that they’ll immediately be able to take over certain tasks, or that they will initially even get  things right. Your employee has a completely different knowledge base, motivation and perception than you do as an entrepreneur.

It’s worth putting together a system for on boarding employees in advance, so that new employees can effectively get their footing in your business.

When planning your business development and the recruitment of employees, you must also be prepared for turnover and the subsequent recruitment process. Posting a job offer in places where specialists are found is a good idea for recruiting competent employees, although it’s worth considering whether your company will be able to satisfy your employee’s needs for development. If not, they’re likely to not stick around. This is why it’s worth developing a complete recruitment plan, step by step.

The next stages and tips on starting a business, i.e. about building a team, changing your client portfolio, establishing a line of credit, boredom in business, about the development of sales and the whole business in it’s entirety will soon be found in the second part of this article: “Another 5 things about starting and running a business”.


Author-Thumbnail Ewa Zmysłowska
Ewa Zmysłowska Chief Experience Officer