After completing a graduate programme with a gaming business and becoming the general manager, Chris Braine was disappointed with the opportunities that were available to him. Business West helped Chris to apply for a start-up loan and worked with him to develop an investment ready business plan and Select Visa Services was launched in 2015.
Select Visa Services has now been operating successfully for two years, providing a unique, tailored service for a wide variety of UK visa applications. Over these past two years Chris has gathered a wealth of experience in running a business and shares his top 5 tips for anyone thinking of taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
Tip 1: Be open to learning
Talk to other start-up businesses and ask about areas you don’t have experience in, you will learn a lot and make deeper connections and contacts. Just because you have never started a business before doesn’t mean that there isn’t a wealth of existing knowledge available for you to tap into. A mentor can also be a good option, they will have years of business experience and ‘been there, done that’ knowhow to share with you.
Tip 2: Appreciate honest feedback
This is vital but not always easy. Your product or service is not perfect (yet) so honest, direct feedback can be used as a great tool to help you identify areas of improvement. Don’t be put off by people giving you constructive criticism. While you do need encouragement in the early stages of starting your business, if people only ever gave you positive feedback you might remain open to significant failures further down the line. It’s easy to view your business as your ‘baby’, but that also means that you may subconsciously be avoiding acknowledging its flaws.
Tip 3: Don’t fear start-up costs
Of course, you need to be careful with every penny, however it’s vital you have the right things in place and you work with people that will improve your offering (sometimes it costs a bit more for the best). My biggest learning within our first year was that ‘saving money’ on goods and services often meant spending more longer term. While it is possible to start a business solely from your own personal savings, a start-up loan gives you the flexibility to invest in your business at the beginning, laying a solid foundation for future growth.
Tip 4: Grow your network
This takes time and effort and it becomes harder the busier you get but its important time is made to meet other business owners to learn from. When you’re starting a business, you will be spending most of your waking hours working hard to get your idea off the ground, the majority of which will be spent by yourself if you aren’t working with a business partner. It can be harder trying to do everything yourself, so get out there, attend networking events and start talking about your business. You never know where you will meet your next supplier, retailer or investor!
Tip 5: Regular reassessment
This tip is very important, continually review what you are doing and tweak your business plan. I use a simple document to review what we have done and what we are planning to do and this works well for my business. However, if you do it, make sure you regularly take a step back and check you are on track, working towards your targets.
If you have a great business idea but need a start-up loan to make your dream a reality, our in-depth business planning and finance workshops will tell you everything you need to know about how to become investment ready.
Select Visa Services, based in Bristol, offer a complete visa appplication solution for you and your family - find out more.