Top 10 start up tips
They're a diverse bunch, the entrants in the SmartCompany Crown Lager Business Start Up Awards -we've got companies involved in everything from recycling and online retailing through to recruitment, car rentals and outsourcing.
But despite their obvious differences, there are a number of clear trends that emerge after reading their profiles (which you'll be able to do from 7pm tonight).
I've distilled these trends into 10 start up tips that will hopefully provide a good starting point for anyone thinking of starting a business.
1. Don't give up your day job - Starting a business while still working can be a great way to ease into entrepreneurship.
2. Find a niche - The best way for a start up to compete with bigger businesses is to specialise in one area and do that really, really well.
3. Test your value proposition - You need more than a good idea to start a business, you need an idea that customers will actually pay for.
4. Plan, plan and plan some more - Before you go into business you'll need to research your target market and have some idea of budgets and cashflow for the \
first few years.
5. Get help - Recognise that you can't do everything and seek help from lawyers, accountants and other experts.
6. Watch every dollar - Cashflow is the biggest challenge for most businesses, so you need to keep tight control of costs at all times.
7. Look after yourself - It can be a stressful process starting a business, so make sure you look after your physical health as well as the health of your business.
8. Build a support team - Family, friends and mentors are crucial to help you get started.
9. Be passionate - All the great entrepreneurs share one characteristic - they absolutely love what they do and are passionate about their business.
10. Celebrate your successes - Building a business can be a hard slog, so be sure to celebrate every milestone.