Anyone who has ever wanted to start their own business has heard all the off-putting clichés that come with it.
We’ve all heard them—everything from “You need heaps of startup capital” to “You need a business degree” or “You need X years of experience.”
That kind of thing can deter even the most determined entrepreneur.
In our myth-busting guide, The Un-Rule Book, we spoke to five thriving entrepreneurs, all in their mid-to-late twenties.
They told us how these statements have no truth or weight to them, and revealed how they carved out their own path to success.
Each entrepreneur shared their thoughts on how they did it without any of the requirements so many seem to think are vital when looking to run a business.
In this article, we share five of their top insights (plus a bonus tip) to help you beat the clichés and turn your startup dreams into a reality.
Here’s what we cover:
1. Jack Parsons, The Youth Group: “I really disengage from big business plans”
When it comes to a business plan, many people completely run away with themselves and end up writing hundreds of pages, when in reality, that isn’t needed at all.
Jack Parsons built his business, The Youth Group, with a one-page business plan.
He says all you need to know is your what, why, and how.
Start off by thinking about what industry you want to be in and what is it you want to sell.
Then move on to the reason behind selling that; you need to know why people will be interested in your product and what makes it different.
And lastly, you need to think about how to sell, promote, and fund it.
Those are the basics that you need to have figured out.
There’s no need to overcomplicate it and write endless pages when it can be as simple as that.
As Jack points out: “I really disengage from big business plans that are 70 pages long, because you don’t know what is on page 65, because you’re probably just writing for the sake of it.”
Many other people reading your business plan will feel the same, so keep it short and sweet.
All you need is that one page showcasing what you want to achieve in your first year.
Jack didn’t have everything figured out, and he still doesn’t; he’s taking every day as it comes. Most companies won’t have had every detail ironed out when they first started.
A business will adapt and evolve hundreds of times.
As Jack points out: “Your plan will definitely change 300 times, and what it looks like six months down the line, will be something completely different to what you started with.”
If you’re thinking about writing a business plan or aren’t sure whether you need one, just think about those three things, your what, why and how.
Set yourself goals for the first year and think about what you want to achieve.
Don’t try to figure it all out and go with the flow. Keep your main goals simple and sustainable.
2. Amani Zubair, Tresor: “Nowadays, experience really isn’t essential”
A common misconception that most people hold is that you have to have years of experience or industry knowledge to get your foot in the door to the business world.
Surely you can’t possibly know where to start or how to run a successful business without experience, right?
Well, that’s just not the case.
Amani Zubair dropped out of studying.
She had no experience and no business degree, but she did have some exposure to e-commerce through Depop, the popular fashion marketplace app.
This is where it all started.
She used Depop to start her small jewellery business, selling chains and charms.
Now, she’s selling high-quality jewellery on her own website, Tresor, with investment from Lord Alan Sugar himself.
The odds seemed stacked against Amani, especially because at her young age she didn’t have the kind of experience people expect in an entrepreneur.
And yet now she has a team who work for her, and her very own studio to operate out of.
Amani has a key piece of advice for anyone thinking about starting their own business: “Nowadays, experience really isn’t essential.
“We live in a generation where we have all this information at our fingertips, we have the ability to learn absolutely anything, at any time.”
And that is exactly what she did.
Amani learned how to run a business by researching and using all the resources at her disposal. She discovered how to market and promote her products through social media platforms just by using Google.
Like many others, she found the best way to learn was also through using the process of trial and error.
As much as you would like your business to be perfect on the first try, the reality is that it won’t be.
If you’re worried that you can’t start a business because you have no experience, then take Amani’s story as a motivator.
She says: “I had no experience when starting out and although it can be beneficial, if you have the drive to really go out there, teach yourself, and get the things that you want, then you can do it too.”
Push yourself to learn how to design, take the plunge and learn about marketing, and educate yourself on the elements of business finance.
You can build a business without experience. You just have to be willing to fill the gaps in your knowledge.
Experience will come with time, but you can always teach yourself new things.
3. Rebecca Cole, Fearless Keychains: “Social media is your best friend”
Technology is constantly evolving, changing the way we promote products and the marketing tools we use.
Fearless Keychains founder Rebecca Cole says: “Social media is your best friend. Take TikTok, for example. Let’s say I didn’t have that platform—there’s no way I would be in the position that I’m in now.”
In the past couple of years, this platform has taken the world by storm, with 2.6 billion monthly active users in 2021.
Many people are using TikTok as a platform to advertise and promote their businesses and products, which has proven to be extremely effective.
Rebecca joined several small business communities and found other entrepreneurs to connect with, so before she even started promoting her own business, she already had 1,000 followers ready to support her.
She says: “We built up a community of about 170,000 followers, and I still follow all those small businesses today.”
That just proves how supportive and positive social media could be for you.
Social media can help get your business exposure, and increase the size of the audience seeing your content.
It’s a platform that’s used worldwide, so it could help you to expand your business to an international scale, as Rebecca has done.
TikTok has known to be responsible for the ‘blow up’ of many businesses, making their videos go viral and causing businesses to completely sell out of their products in minutes.
Fearless Keychains has a restock every week to try and cope with the demand, however the products are still selling out within hours.
This is a direct result of the exposure it has received on TikTok.
The usual techniques of marketing can still be used, such as email and brochures, but stories like that of Fearless Keychains, prove that social media is a huge asset to securing business success.
You really don’t need to be tech savvy either; anyone can start up an account on TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and so on.
It’s all about being honest and being yourself, so don’t overcomplicate your posts.
If in doubt, don’t worry, there are plenty of tools on the internet to help you improve your social media marketing skills. You just have to look for them.
Social media can take your business to new highs.
4. Bella Hyland, The Hippy Designs: “If you don’t have a mentor, it’s nice to be your own”
It can be easy to fall into the mindset that you need a mentor to guide you through the dos and dont’s of business.
And if you don’t have a one of those handy, you might feel like you have no chance going in alone.
Bella Hyland has created her spirituality-inspired business, The Hippy Designs, without an expert there to steer her in the right direction.
Having a mentor isn’t essential because you’ll learn what is best for you and your business over time and through using trial and error.
A great point Bella makes is this: “It’s great getting advice from people from previous generations, but it’s worth remembering many of them went through it without social media, and without the possibility of unexpectedly blowing up on a platform overnight.”
There have been so many changes in recent years that the advice and guidance you get from mentors could be out of date or irrelevant to your business.
Bella says: “I think a lot of small business owners sprouting from our generation are going through an entire new dynamic of business growth, and we are all just sort of figuring it out.”
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as your product video going viral on social media and leading to thousands of orders.
No one can prepare you for that, you’ve just got to take every day as it comes.
Instead of worrying about seeking out a business adviser who has all the answers, accept the fact that no one really knows it all.
You will learn through time, experience and even by making mistakes—these will help to shape your business for the better.
Bella has found it helpful to surround herself with like-minded people who also have the drive to succeed.
She says: “If you don’t have a mentor, it’s nice to be your own mentor and bounce off the people around you.”
Although it’s nice to go to friends, family or an adviser for help, the only person who really knows what is going to work and what’s best is you.
As Bella puts it: “When you suddenly find yourself in the deep end, it’s you who can figure out the best way to handle it all.”
Becoming your own mentor might seem like a daunting idea, but it’ll push you to really listen to yourself and have more trust in the decisions you make.
Trust in your decisions and surround yourself with good people.
5. Sare Goldman, Creative House: “Business studies or a degree in business could definitely help, but it isn’t essential”
Once upon a time, it was a given that most people would have some sort of degree or qualification in business to be able to run their own.
A lot of people might think this is still relevant or required to start up your own business, but we’re here to tell you that it’s not.
Sare Goldman is the founder of Creative House, an empowering clothing business that she started up from home with just an idea and a printer.
As she puts: “I started with no knowledge of business. I didn’t even know much about making posters.”
There’s no requirement that you need to be an expert in everything and know the ins and outs of how a business runs.
Although having a qualification could be beneficial, you can still succeed without one.
“Don’t get me wrong, business studies or a degree in business could definitely help,” says Sare, “but it isn’t essential to be able to be successful in running your own business.”
A lot of the things you need to know, you’ll learn by getting stuck in and trying things for yourself.
Every business is different, so there is no one guaranteed way to find success.
Those with business degrees don’t necessarily have more successful businesses, they just have a little more knowledge.
“You just need to know your product, know your target market, and know how to sell it,” says Sare.
All of those things you can do without a qualification or even a business plan, as Sare didn’t have one of those either.
She says, “I also didn’t have a business plan and have never had a business plan. I find that the market and trends change so much, it’s better to go with the flow.”
It’s all about finding what works for you and your business.
Some might find it more comforting to possess a degree, whereas others might thrive off learning on the job and taking each day as it comes.
Do what feels right for you and find your own way.
Bonus tip: “I don’t think you need capital when you first start out”
Jack Parsons has some additional advice surrounding startup capital. Here’s what he’s got to say:
“Here’s the thing people don’t realise. I don’t think you need capital when you first start out.
“You need to make the business sustainable for yourself first. If that means staying in a job and then working it as a side hustle, go ahead and do it.”
Don’t feel the need to make your business your full-time job straight away if that isn’t a sustainable option for yourself.
Many successful businesses have started out as side projects or have been bootstrapped. These are all good and workable options to consider.
In the early days of your business, you might worry about the challenge of raising investment.
Well, in one word, don’t.
It turns out that raising investment is far less important than securing orders and closing deals.
The main focus you should have is selling.
“If you’ve got one paying client, you are doing 99% better than all startups,” says Jack.
So focus all your attention on building up your clientele and creating a reliable flow of income.
You will meet many people along the way in your business journey. Some of them could become mentors and friends.
They’ll want to see you succeed and do well in your business, and will often help in any way they can.
So don’t feel afraid to ask for help and support from them, and keep your main goals simple and sustainable.
By following these tips, we hope you find the challenge of starting up your own small business that little bit easier.
It’s time to forget the naysayers and the clichés and start writing your own rules.
It might not be easy, but there is a route for everyone to thrive.
Recommended Next Read
How I turned £2,000 into a multi-million-pound business
The Un-Rule Book
Follow cliché-free advice from five young successful entrepreneurs to learn how you can start a business without experience, capital or qualifications.
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