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In any event

by Olivia Powell

Jamie Vaughan, who has set up four companies over his career and is now head of European sales at Cvent, offers his viewpoint for anyone considering setting up their own business.

Consider this a teaser for International Confex, as Vaughan will be taking part in the EventTech Dragon’s Den. At the session, he will be giving advice on the best way to go about securing investment, as well as discussing the process, the challenges and pitfalls and the government and business initiatives that can support a company’s growth.

Vaughan says that his top tips are:

  • Be prepared to have the right mindset:  Setting up and growing your own business can be a rollercoaster at times.  There will be good times and sometimes the biggest of challenges, so you need to be determined and tenacious and not give up at the first hurdle.   I can say hand on heart from my own experience, that the excitement and fulfilment from even the smallest successes is all worth it.
  • You will need to have a clear objective of why you are setting up the business. Do you want to run a lifestyle business? Or are you looking to scale up your business and will need significant funding for machinery, technology and creation of products? All of this will form part of your business plan which is a MUST for anyone setting up a business.  Just as you wouldn’t head to a new destination a few hundred miles away without a SATNAV or good map reading, you need a clear structure of how you are going to achieve growth, gain new customers/clients.  You want to avoid drifting at all costs – direction is critical.
  • Having a seed of an idea is all very well and it could be the start of a great business, but it’s always wise to sound out the idea with family, business-savvy friends, a business advisor or accountant, and someone you trust in the industry to check the viability.  Some may be critical (some even possibly without good cause) whilst others will say the things you want to hear – the important issue at hand is having the courage of your convictions to strike out if the business plan and idea makes sense.
  • Seek advice from an accountant about your business status – you might decide it suits you to be a sole trader or perhaps set up as a limited company and register your business at Company House.  Your accountant will be able to explain what status will work best for you.
  • Do look into what funding options will work best for you before you dive in with the first option.  If you are starting small – you may not need additional funding which means you have 100% control.  If you require additional funding, remember investors or your bank manager will want to see a tight business plan.  The benefits of having an outside investor (other than cash) is they will regularly challenge you and the business (in a good way) and motivate you to do the very best.
  • If your business requires the creation of a new design, new software/and or technology do make sure you get this protected with a Patent /Trademark if you can.  You may want to seek the advice of an intellectual property lawyer who could offers initial guidance as to what steps need to be taken.  If your business takes off, then you have to be protected – particularly if you are expanding internationally.
  • Do make sure you do your legal homework and put necessary contracts in place. You may not think you need these in the early stages of the business, yet, as any lawyer will tell you, the ‘devil is in the details’ and this could be critical when it comes time to sell your business and protect your assets.
  • Finally – I can’t stress enough the value of finding an inspiring mentor.  If you find the right person he/she can give you the crucial guidance at different stages of running the business.   For example Fast Forward 15 is a great scheme for those in the events and hospitality world https://fastforward15.co.uk/about/

Jamie Vaughan will be at International Confex on 25 February, 3:00-4:30pm at EventTech Dragons Den.

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