Build your business from passion

AT THE beginning of the year I founded a company with a techie partner.

AT THE beginning of the year I founded a company with a techie partner. Oli Wood and I developed Wedding Tales for people to share photos and memories of their big day.

I’ve learned a huge amount from the process and wanted to share some tips with budding entrepreneurs.

Firstly, you’ve got to understand your passion and build from it. If you’re not sure why you’re doing it, or you’re just motivated by the idea of making money, then you’re really going to struggle.

The road is tough and there’ll be long nights and stress. Life will throw you curveballs and – almost inevitably – it’ll take longer and cost more than you first think.

We were first motivated to do this when we saw the difficulties our wedded friends were having co-ordinating CD swapping and using existing online services.

Also, you’ve got to talk to people. Ideas aren’t unique. I’ve met budding entrepreneurs who are reluctant to speak of their idea for fear it’ll be stolen. Fundamentally, your idea is a small part of your business – you are the large part.

If you talk to people and take time to listen to their suggestions you stand to gain much, much more.

Initially, build the smallest product that fulfils the user’s need. It reduces risk and means you can start proving your concept and market as early as possible. Don’t make assumptions about how people use your service – measure and stat-watch.

If it isn’t working then don’t be afraid to kill it. It’s far better to fail softly, cheaply and smartly than to crash out painfully.

Be flexible so you can consider other markets. We’ll be launching a sharing service for other events based upon our success with Wedding Tales.

It’s great to be a team and essential to spend time on your working relationships. Learn your own strengths and weaknesses, and those of each of your team members.

Your team should complement each other. You should be able to give each other leeway when you make mistakes and be very open to discussion about your motivations or the business.

The North East is well catered for by support networks and there’s certainly a good, friendly cluster of us who are building our businesses and happy to offer advice to each other. Seek us out and introduce yourself!

We’ll be the first people to admit that we’ve made mistakes. There are so many plates to spin that every new business will drop a few.

But I think we’ve learned from this and I’m looking forward to what we can achieve in the coming year.

:: James Rutherford is the co-founder of MemoryMerge, which specialises in group photo sharing. Its first online service is www.weddingtales.co.uk

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