Jat Mann

Jat Mann

Jat Mann is the Founder and Managing Director of PC PAL, the UK’s leading Computer Support Franchise. Jat originally qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant and progressed to be one of the youngest Heads of Finance in his industry. He also worked for a number of leading organisations including Bridgestone Motorsport, Lloyds Pharmacies and National Grid Transco.
PC PAL News 4th December 2013 939

In his column this month, Jat Mann talks about the pros and cons of starting your own business, and what to expect:

Creating a small business is a dream for many people and many do make a success of it. This can be repairing computers, building websites or making cup cakes. Running a business means dealing with many issues simultaneously, which can feel a lot like keeping all the plates spinning at once and dashing from one emergency to another. As a business owner, you are singularly responsible for everything that happens in your business. This includes hiring and firing staff, ensuring bills are paid, ordering stock, chasing suppliers for deliveries, cleaning and organising the shop/office, keeping the books in order and dealing with compliance and legal issues, selling, complaints, press releases, keeping up with the latest products.... this is goes on and on and on.

There is no such thing as a typical day running a business and there aren't enough hours in the day to achieve everything. Unfortunately, running a business was not something that was taught at school either (I think this is being addressed now) and like becoming a parent for the first time, nothing quite prepares you with the onslaught of emotions, learning new skills (including skills you didn't know you didn't know!) and watching your bank balance plummet as you gear up to launch the business.

So why do we do it?! There is no definitive answer out there, rather a collection of theories revolving around the human need for independence, building something by oneself, controlling one's destiny, having a good work/ life balance, becoming wealthy, getting off the corporate treadmill and so on. It's a goal for many people and is perhaps viewed through rose tinted spectacles, where they sun shines everyday and the till is always raining! If only that was indeed the case!

From my personal experience, the step into the unknown and starting my own business is a step that I wish I had taken earlier. However, the skills I acquired whilst in employment have helped enormously, plus the desire to keep on learning and evolving. There are many factors to consider, such was finances, security, desire, skills relating to your preferred industry, working capital (i.e. how much cash you can invest in the business during the start up phase and trading when sales will naturally take time to build up), family, support from friends, the economy, even the location and weather!

However, there is one factor that is often too far down the list of priorities, yet is a fundamental pillar upon which to build a successful business - the Customer. Now, there is nothing wrong with following your heart and going out and achieving something you really want, but there is old saying which sums up this key factor: 'in order to make money, you need to help others make or save money'.

What this saying essentially means is that a business owner needs to understand that he/she will needs sell goods or services to others, be that tangible (like furniture) or intangible (SEO services). They need to be able to do this profitability and sustainably.

So my top tip this month is before making any decision about leaving the relative comfort of paid employment (!), put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer and see how they view the world and your potential offering. What would they want to buy? Do they even know what they want (the philosophy of the late & great Steve Jobs)? Can you make or provide the product in enough volume to sell to the addressable market (i.e. the future customer pool)? How will your customer find you (advertising can be a very easy way of loosing money faster that putting it in a slot machine) - be honest and play devil' advocate and think about the reasons why you shouldn't do it or how it go wrong. Keep expectations low but standards high and above all else, ensure your immediate family are right behind you in the decision - you'll need their support. It could be the best thing you every do!

Jat Mann

Jat Mann is the Founder and Managing Director of PC PAL, the UK’s leading Computer Support Franchise. Jat originally qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant and progressed to be one of the youngest Heads of Finance in his industry. He also worked for a number of leading organisations including Bridgestone Motorsport, Lloyds Pharmacies and National Grid Transco.

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