John points me at Where are all the UK start-ups?, a very interesting read with a heck of a lot of commentary from other budding entrepreneurs. This in turn inspired How to Build a Successful Web Startup in the UK – Part I (Part II online now) which has a slightly odd argument about how our class system holds us back. I don’t buy into this – points about fear of failure are made (which have some truth) and our environment is not one where there are many other entrepreneurial types floating around, so getting into the mindset is harder. But class? Nope, I disagree.
However – once you start down the road, most people are supportive. I’ve met a few naysayers, but they’ve mostly gone quiet once they saw I was getting on rather well with my ideas. Along the way I’m glad to say I’ve met a boat-load of like-minded people – they aren’t so hard to find, you just have to speak up a bit. The hardest bit is stepping out of the comfort zone, taking the plunge and then sticking with it. Working inside the supportive environment of the Sussex Innovation Centre has certainly helped.
My story: got frustrated with my permie Artificial Intelligence research/development jobs last January, quit, took out a loan for 3 months survival money (having no money in the bank – I’d just bought a flat), declared myself a ‘consultant’, then wondered what the heck to do next.
It was an interesting ride for 3 months from my birthday last April to actually getting my first paid Artificial Intelligence consultancy role, but I’ve not looked back. Being freelance now with a number of clients has taught me a new set of skills and it has given me the flexibility to play with my own ideas: CustomKnoppix recently with Duncan and the perhaps rather ambitious BookAnExpert (in preparation) now.
My take-home: if you want to do it, just get on with it. Crack on with the idea in your evenings and weekends, meet like-minded people, but most of all keep pushing it forward. No one else will push it for you, that’s for sure.
If you’re entrepreneurial and you want to chin-wag – feel free to get in touch. Contact details are in the About Me page.
Other stories of note: 37signals have a great entry on low-funded startups and earlier link to a How to Make Big Things Happen with Small Teams presentation. I particularly like their section “Build half a product not a half-ass product”.