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Start Smart: Ten Top Tips for Start-up Success

30/06/2014 11:20 | Updated 27 August 2014

Every business starts with a good idea. But turning that idea into some serious cash takes more than just thought. During our 'Entrepreneurs: Making It' series, I have spoken to business founders at all stages of the start-up journey. From living room first-timers to seasoned entrepreneurs on their subsequent adventures. Here are some lessons from our series: 10 things that might make your start-up fly.

GET SOME MOTIVATION - having your fingers burned buying something you're unhappy with is one way to get motivated. Lucy Burnford, the founder of Motoriety, thought she was in the dark when she bought a second-hand car so she decided to launch a website for car owners. She said, "It came with a full service history, I test drove it and it all seemed perfectly fine. About three months later something quite major went wrong on the car and I was quoted £3,500 to fix it." Her new business allows car owners to give their car an 'autobiography' - a transferable file stored in the cloud that shows all the work that has ever been done on the vehicle.

FIND ALTERNATIVE FUNDING - if the banks won't back you, then go and find somebody who will. The founders of upmarket meat company Muddy Boots, Miranda and Roland Ballard, told me, "We didn't expect them [banks] to lend to us, and we understand why they didn't, so we decided to go the backer route. We met some great guys." The London Distillery Company, co-founded by Darren Rook resorted to sourcing investment from high-net-worth individuals and crowd-funding. Darren says that standing out from the crowd in the crowd-funding space means doing due diligence on your valuations. He told me." We were being very conservative and trying to give a good amount of equity for investment."

MAKE THE MOST OF A STEEP LEARNING CURVE - Muddy Boots found they were not diversified enough when the horse meat scandal hit. Co-founder Miranda Ballard told me, "It was crushing for us... at that time we had three products, all purely beef. So shame on us really. We should have been more sensible to expand the range." Katherine Choynowski who founded the Le Crib home furnishings website says she learned a lot from her viral, social-media led, marketing campaign. Some of her designers disapproved of it but she doesn't regret it entirely telling me, "I needed a way to get out there and have people find us and the second it went out 10,000 people came and found us. So it worked."

GO FOR MONEY WITH BENEFITS - it's not enough to get the money you need; you need the right money. The founder of Space NK, Nicky Kinnaird, told me you need the right money, with the right attitude. She says "You can always find money somewhere, but it's getting the right money with the right mind set behind there. You want people involved who've got a common goal." And many entrepreneurs have said that the advice that comes along with the funding is really important to them. Muddy Boots' Miranda Ballard told me, "We get the mentorship as well as the cash."

GET PASSIONATE - most entrepreneurs I have spoken to have said passion for their product really drives them. Kinnaird told me "Anyone can be good at anything but if you feel passion for the topic you're going to do the job so much better." The brothers Giles and Nick English who founded luxury watchmaker Bremont speak passionately about the timepieces that are their stock-in-trade. Giles told me, "No success comes overnight... you really do need that passion. If you have that burning desire, you can go and do anything; you can go and conquer it." But Tom Hartley, who deals in luxury cars, is different. He told me, "I don't have a passion for cars, I just happen to be a businessman who buys and sells cars." But he can't hide his passion for the deal making.

WORRY ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS - learning to worry effectively seems key to entrepreneurs. I asked Tarek Malouf, who founded the Hummingbird Bakeries chain, what he worries about and he said, "Where do I begin? I have a whole litany of worries." But he's glad he worries because he sees it as the first step to solving issues.

BE DISRUPTIVE - Lucy Burnford says Motoriety can disrupt the auto industry because it's a consumer driven product in an industry that has focussed on what works for manufacturers and retailers. She told me, "We're a very disruptive business. When it really takes off, it will completely transform the way the automotive sector manages its customer communications and the way motorists manage their cars." The founder of Archibald Optics, Rohan Dhir, says his luxury online eyewear business is disruptive because it cuts out the middle man. He says, "Something of a similar category, high quality eyewear, would set somebody back about £600 on the high street. We do £175 all-inclusive with ultra-thin lenses and free shipping from Japan."

IT'S NEVER TOO LATE - Simon Woodroffe who founded the Yo! Sushi restaurant chain started up the business aged 45 after spending years on the road with rock bands. He put his experience as a stage designer to good use in the concept behind his theatrical restaurants. He tells me his story and says, "I think that's very inspiring to people. It's certainly very inspiring to me. I still pinch myself."

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY - many of the business founders I met have business models that hang on technology. Archibald Optics uses technology to cut out the middle man. Motoriety uses it to share information. Le Crib sells over the internet and Muddy Boots has embraced social media to share its start-up experience. The London Distillery used crowd funding websites to find money. Tom Hartley prefers a more face-to-face car sales approach but his son Carl regularly sells luxury cars over WhatsApp.

WORK HARD - Many entrepreneurs talked to me about the hard graft involved with running your own business. Giles English of Bremont told me, "It takes a long time and you really do need to focus at it" and his brother Nick joked, "Giles never used to have grey hair." The founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, Michael Bloomberg, recently told my colleague Stephanie Ruhle that young entrepreneurs should work hard. He said, "You're going to need some luck but the harder you work the luckier you get." Even Bloomberg was a start-up once.

'The Entrepreneurs: Making It' series hosted by Anna Edwards airs on Bloomberg on Thursday 3 July and 4 July at 21:00BST/22:00CEST/0:00ME