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10 start-up tips for budding entrepreneurs

  |  April 1, 2012

This weekend's cover story in Personal Finance looks at the benefits of going to university. While the education system stresses that getting a degree is the only way to build a good career, many have proven that they can achieve the same success, if not more, by skipping college and going straight into the workplace. To prove this point, we interviewed Simon Dolan (pictured above), one of the UK's leading entreprenuers and the author of How To Make Millions Without A Degree. Mr Dolan, who left school at 16 without any qualifications and now heads a £100 million (Dh585.76m) empire, says his book is aimed at those who dream of success, but don't believe university is the best way to achieve their goals. With this in mind, Mr Dolan shares his top 10 start-up tips for budding entrepreneurs who choose to enter the business arena rather than go to university:
1. Develop an ability in sales: everything in business, and indeed life, comes from sales. In an interview, you have to sell yourself and, furthermore, the interviewer also has to sell the business to you. Sales enhances your numeracy and broadens your confidence; 2. Avoid the big wide gate. Instead, look for the chink. Avoid overly saturated markets and concentrate on the niche and the unoriginal; 3. Duplicate. It's the realisation that when you sell your time, which ultimately any person that starts out in business does, there's a limit to how much you can earn. The limit being the hours in the day. If, all of a sudden, there are two of you, you could earn twice as much. If there were 200 of you, you could earn 200 times as much, and so on. Short of rapid advancement in genetic engineering, the only way to duplicate yourself is to hire staff; 4. Your business plan should be five words long: "Get and keep more customers!". Without customers you haven't got a business and by customers, I mean people who spend money; 5. Know when to quit. If you've tried everything and it's not getting any better, cut your losses and move on; 6. Self-belief is an entrepreneur's most precious commodity; 7. Don't spend money on advertising. All you need to do is create a web page; 8. Never spend a penny more than you need to. You don't need a PA, receptionist, junior, nice furniture, an office, a company car or a photocopier - get the picture? And realise that the only purpose your business has is to make money - save the world once you've made some. In the meantime, leave "social enterprises" to charities and governments; 9. Read everything you can about people who have started businesses from nothing - preferably biographies and autobiographies - as everything you need to know is contained within those pages; 10. Give yourself time.

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