Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

10 May 2024

Starting up? Here are top tips from business owners to help you on your journey

Happy Small Business Day! We are proud that supporting small businesses is at the heart of what we do here at the Business & IP Centre (BIPC). This year we reached out to some of our BIPC London business ambassadors, as well as entrepreneurs who received help on their business journey through their local BIPC resources and our Get Ready For Business Growth programme, to provide advice on coping with the inevitable stresses of starting up. 

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1. Celebrate the small wins

"Celebrate every small win. When you’re motivated your creativity improves and it’s easier to develop new solutions for business-related problems or invent new products. The connection between physical and mental health is stronger than I thought. It’s important to exercise both mind and body to fully use all your skills on your business. Female entrepreneurs can often face a wider range of challenges: in my case I’ve started my pre-menopause at 42. This brings short periods of depression and lack of sleep, some mornings I don’t want to even get out of bed. It’s difficult, but exercise helps a lot."

- Judy Chicangana, Founder of Delmora and BIPC Local Bromley business ambassador


2. A SMART tip

"It is so common to experience stress if you're a small business owner: it's practically inevitable, unfortunately. To cope with the pressure, I recommend setting SMART goals for your business (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely). I always reassess priorities and break down tasks into manageable steps. It's also crucial to ask for help when you need it - reach out for support from mentors and professional networks as they will help you to see the bigger picture. For example, the Get Ready for Business Growth Programme helped us to put things into perspective when it comes to diversifying our revenue streams and organising internal processes. It's worth remembering that challenges are only a natural part of growth!"

- Dana Storo, Co-founder of Codex Anatomicus and Get Ready For Business Growth graduate

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3. Visit your local BIPC

"Running a business is a challenging endeavour, especially in the beginning, and new business owners have a lot to learn. My advice would be to visit your local BIPC for business support instead of struggling to work things out for yourself. This, in turn, will reduce your stress levels and give you breathing space. When things feel too much it's important to take some time out to think and do something that excites you. Spend time with good friends and loved ones. That experience will boost your mood and confidence."

Find your local BIPC here. 


4. Networking is key

“If we were to give any advice to small businesses it would be to invest in and harness the power of your network. When we started TwelveTwentyFive we secured our first clients through our network and quickly learnt that we needed to develop it and curate it. Through the support of BIPC Northamptonshire and their in-person and online sessions, events and training we've been able to grow our network of like-minded small and start-up business owners. Through their Build Your Business grant we have been able to invest in our podcast 'Building' and are now featuring many guests who we met through the BIPC network.”

- Harry and Brendan, Founders of TwelveTwentyFive


5. Put yourself first

"In the whirlwind of entrepreneurship, prioritising yourself is essential. Remember our guiding principle: 'Put Yourself First.' Your wellbeing is the cornerstone of your business's success. Feeling stressed? Just pause, breathe and prioritise self-care. Lean on support networks like BIPC; you're not alone. Be courageous in reaching out for assistance in areas causing stress. As coaches, we know this will help you navigate challenges, ensuring both you and your business thrive."


6. Get out there and grow

"Immerse yourself in as many events and exhibitions as possible. This exposure not only fosters business growth but also provides a wealth of motivation from observing fellow entrepreneurs. The most significant support from BIPC Northamptonshire wasn't just the grant I received, it was the networking opportunities that really made a difference. Although the financial support was a bonus, it was the connections that proved invaluable. The guidance on constructing a robust business plan and continued support from the BIPC were true game changers for me."

- David Sikharulidze, CEO of Mavis Technologies 


7. It's a marathon, not a sprint

"Slow progress is better than no progress. Always think about the compound effect when starting a business: doing small things frequently adds to the big achievements over time. Your business journey is a marathon, not a sprint, so stay focused on your lane and compete with nobody but yourself. I recommend using the business tools and networking events that the BIPC offer to equip you with the knowledge to navigate your start-up journey and meet other like-minded business owners with whom you can share ideas and gain inspiration from. Whenever you feel stressed in your business journey, remember why you started: when you find your why, you'll find your way!"

- Mel Nichols, Founder of Chayses Boys Book Club 


8. Ask for expert advice at your BIPC

"It can be really overwhelming when you start off as a business, especially for a grassroots not for profit like us at WIILMA that doesn't quite fit into a particular box. However, my BIPC consultant really helped to identify and break goals down into small, manageable steps. They revisited these with me, and also checked in on how life commitments were going too, so I didn't feel alone through the process."

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9. Rome wasn't built in a day

"When starting a business, it's important to understand the purpose behind it before thinking about scaling. When your business provides solutions to problems, your business success will speak for itself through your clients. Remember the organisations and brands you buy from did not scale in one day; it took centuries and decades of hard work, dedication and the willingness to persevere amongst the delays they encountered. As a book publishing company, we continue to emulate gradual growth as we understand the needs of creative writers and use our platform to represent and support other local businesses. Our role as a BIPC Business Ambassador is to give value and support first-time and established business owners on their building journey. We are aware that running a business is not an overnight success but takes patience, tenacity and the willingness to come out of your comfort zone."

Esther Solomon-Turay, Founder of Authentic Worth and BIPC Local Lewisham business ambassador 


Kickstart Your Business

If you're thinking about starting up but aren't sure where to begin, sign up for our free Kickstart Your Business programme that offers tailored, accessible workshops and webinars to help you on your business journey. Topics covered include financing your business, researching your market and protecting your business's intellectual property. Find out more here and sign up today!

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