I couldn’t have started my business without…..

Ahead of World Entrepreneur's Day, successful entrepreneurs tell us their ‘must-have’ resources for getting your new business idea off the ground.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

It’s easy to feel lost when you’re just starting a new business. You’re packing for what could well be the biggest journey of your life – so what do you bring along with you?

The key thing to remember is that every entrepreneur was in your position at some point. Even the self-made greats, like Richard Branson and Steven Bartlett, had to start from somewhere.

At Startups, we’ve been taking firms from seed to mighty oak, for over 20 years. Through our Startups 100 Index, which specifically celebrates companies that are just starting out, we’ve watched over 1,000 brave people take their first entrepreneurial steps.

So how did they do it? What’s the secret sauce to starting a successful startup? We asked four of the UK’s most exciting new founders from the past half a decade what they think is the key business ingredient to triumph in 2024. Here’s what they told us:

“Make sure you have a clear vision and mission”

Kind Bag

Maria Rodriguez

Founder of Kind Bag

Aspiring entrepreneurs need to define a clear and compelling vision for your business. What problem are you solving and what is your long-term mission? Having a strong sense of purpose will guide your decisions.

It was when travelling around Asia that my eyes were really opened to the effects of plastic pollution. Everywhere I went there were used plastic bottles and bags, not to mention plastic fragments on the beaches.

I decided to design a product that would help reduce single-use plastic. Reducing the plastic mountain is at the heart of everything we do. Each Kind Bag is now created using a process that transforms used plastic bottles into a practical, durable fabric called RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate).

I chose RPET because recycled materials are several times more eco-friendly than new materials and follow the concept of circular fashion in which materials are captured and re-used throughout their lifecycle. So, we’re taking waste to create something beautiful and versatile that in turn can also be reused and recycled.

Another thing is don’t be afraid to speak your mind. There are always people who will respond negatively to what you think or believe, but as a small business owner, you have to be the leader. 

As someone who used to feel real imposter syndrome when I started the business (and sometimes still do!) I’ve learnt that to move forward, I have to speak up.

“We wouldn’t be here without a supportive network”

Rosie Fearne and Rosie Jam (1)

Rachel Kettlewell

Founder of Fearne & Rosie Healthier Jams

Fearne & Rosie wouldn’t be here without the support of friends. In the early days, and still to this day, my friends have been my strongest supporters and the best mentors I could have asked for.

Building a business can be incredibly fun, but also hard and it’s important to have a strong network around you to remind you why you started, to offer help, remind you how far you’ve come and ultimately to keep you going!

The idea for Fearne & Rosie came from having my first child, when I began learning more about childhood nutrition. I could see lots of incredible businesses that were targeting the young end of the market, but not so many beyond the toddler stage.

I was the parent at baby groups handing out questionnaires and samples, asking for feedback. Learning what worked, what didn’t work, and why, provided the foundations to support the decisions I would make for our business in the early days.

Even now, I turn to my friends and also to Fearne & Rosie’s Instagram community to ask questions about products and to uncover consumer insights.

“A unique idea is the bedrock of a thriving business”

Haris Pylarinos_Founder _ CEO at HTB (4) (1)

Haris Pylarinos

CEO and Founder at Hack The Box

The significance of a unique business idea addressing real market needs cannot be overstated when you’re starting a business.

I founded Hack The Box because I was dissatisfied with the theory-based cyber training available. I knew there was a significant gap in the market for a gamified, out of the box solution that prepares cybersecurity teams and individuals for real-world attack scenarios.

This approach proved to be the right one and has since resonated globally, attracting a global community of over two million. Our success underscores the importance of identifying pressing pain points in the market and working on solutions to address them.

Entrepreneurs should recognise that addressing authentic market needs fuels growth and fosters purpose. There’s a danger in founders getting lost in something they are passionate about without focusing on what unique gap the business is solving.

My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to embark on a journey of discovery, identifying unmet customer needs and channelling creativity to develop solutions that empower individuals. Remember, a unique and purposeful idea forms the bedrock of a thriving business.

“The key ingredient to starting a business is passion”

Happity Startups 100 2023 DEI winner

Emily Tredget

co-founder of Happity

You need passion to start a business. If you're not passionate about what you are doing then the long days, knockbacks and rollercoaster of emotions are going to be hard to withstand.

You are getting up early or going to bed late to progress in what you love. You learn from the knockbacks so you can improve and make what you are growing even better. And you ride that roller coaster knowing that what you are doing is making a difference.

Passion is also important when selling your product to others – be it investors or customers. People buy from, invest in, and want to work with people who are passionate.

But it's not just your passion that's important. Surrounding yourself with people who are also passionate about what you are doing is also key.

If your investors love what you are doing they are interested not just in the financial return. If your customers are passionate about what you do they will spread the word. And, if you hire people who are passionate about your mission they will do a better job, stick with you, and make every day at work a joy!

Here at Happity we are proud to be supported by investors (which include many of our loyal providers and parents!) who are passionate about our mission statement to end loneliness in new parents, and that our small team are passionate about what we are doing too.

Feeling inspired? Have a look through our below guides for tips and advice on turning your business dreams into reality.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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