My advice begins with the first step which, as cliché as it sounds, is to actually start your business.
I always say to people that if you are the kind of person that needs something official to get your act together, then do something official like registering your business on Companies House. There is a small fee but it makes it even more ‘official’. I registered my business when I was studying at university which was so scary and very ‘mature’. Most of it at the beginning I had no clue what I was doing, but it made me feel like I had to take myself seriously. So my first advice is, always take yourself seriously. No matter what your idea is, or how early you are in your start up, you must take it seriously from the very beginning.
Second, it’s really easy to say yes. And it’s really easy to over-promise. These two are my weaknesses, even to this day. When you start up, you think you need everything to make your business work. Actually you probably only need a few things or a few services to make it work. People are ‘sharks’ when they realise you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re not sure what you really need. So it is very easy to think you need something when actually you can do it yourself.
Third, you want to make money. I get it. But trust is a big deal and it’s the deal maker and breaker. You need to build trust with the people you will do business with or partner with. I much prefer to meet people rather than call or even email. So go to their office! Just show up, don’t worry, it’s not that inconvenient for them when they meet you and realise that you’re an ambitious person.
Fourth, always negotiate. Gosh, the amount of times, even to this day, that I forget to negotiate and ‘go with the flow’. At the end of the day it needs to be rewarding for both sides, not just the other party. The aim of course is to make it rewarding for the party so that you get loyal clients or customers, but if you are selling a service or collaborating with a brand you need to make sure it’s fair. People will expect it. It is odd if there is no little bit of negotiating.
Fifth. Enjoy, be proud of yourself, go celebrate, I always say write a little diary of keep track of all the highs and even the lows, you will laugh it off by the end of the year. And help others too, I totally believe in karma, so help others and help will come to you. Positive energy is key! Also, make sure you smile and you joke in your pitches or selling. People need to see that you’re human. And gain as many friends or connections in different industries, it’s so valuable and you never know where you will be in five years time!
About the author
Aileen Gilani is the founder of The Luxury Student.
Aileen quit her law degree to set up start up, The Luxury Student following advice from her mentor, and hasn’t looked back!
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