Business Insights From Guernsey’s Entrepreneurs

Just in time for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2022, the results were in from the business support survey launched by Digital Greenhouse and Black Vanilla.

Businesses in any location and sector need a variety of support from commercial, corporate and colleagues. In a bid to understand what resources these ventures need most, the Digital Greenhouse and Black Vanilla launched the business support survey, creating a space for budding entrepreneurs to have their thoughts and needs heard.

The business support survey, which received 50 responses from local entrepreneurs who have started a new business, organisation or third-sector operation after January 2020, showed that 50% of new businesses found access to banking the biggest issue they have faced, 68% expected their business to grow in the next 12 months, and 32% thought there was ‘too much red tape’ locally when starting a new business.

In a packed panel event moderated by Black Vanilla's Chris Leaman, our panellists Nichole Culverwell, Director of Black Vanilla, Tim Chilestone, Director of TCS Guernsey and Lucy Kirby, Director of the Digital Greenhouse combed through the results of the survey aiming to understand the challenges and advantages for entrepreneurs setting up a business in Guernsey and discuss what support is needed to foster entrepreneurship.

You can watch the panel session back in full at the bottom of this article.

In our article below we take a look at the 4 key takeaways from this panel session for your business

Thinking of starting a business in Guernsey? Check out the digital Startup 101 Booklet

Your guide to starting a business in Guernsey

Insight #1: All trust takes time. 

All businesses need the trust of their customers to build a loyal customer base and support their venture.  In a true 'Guernsey Together' attitude, it seems that in recent years Guernsey consumers are more likely to support local cafes and shops over online alternatives once a trusting relationship is formed.

All positive relationships are built on communication. Are you communicating with your customers effectively? Are you actively solving their problems? Nichole recommends we 'find out what keeps them awake at night and how you can help' and then optimise your communication channels to tell your target audience about your business. When you’re first starting out, local markets are a great way to get instant feedback on your ideas, product, your product fit, and to learn more about your buyers. According to ActiveCampaign's retail sentiment report that came out in September, that amidst an increase of negative sentiment toward retail giants, that 84% of consumers planned to shop small during the holidays, with 40% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials saying they prioritise shopping from small businesses for their holiday purchases and other special occasions, such as birthdays. The bridge that will connect your small & medium businesses (SMBs) to your customer? A solid 1:1 relationship. With consumers on the hunt for businesses to connect with, earn loyalty with your customers by giving them a bespoke experience that is better than the convenience of a larger corporation. 


Insight #2: Set up your dream team.

You are in danger of stunting your business's growth if you can't trust your team,  so surround yourself with people that are great at doing things that you don't know how to do!

Building a strong small business team isn’t just about finding and hiring the right people for each role. It’s about relieving yourself of the responsibility of managing everything on your own all of the time. Before you start hiring, make sure you are clear about the 'what' and 'who' you are looking for, and make sure you are only bringing people on board when it's absolutely necessary, and when it is the PERFECT candidate for the role. According to PeopleKeep's retention study, the effect of a bad hire can not only impact your morale and productivity but can also cost several months' wages as well, which may be more than SMBs can afford. 

It is thought that in the wake of the last few years, that covid and post-covid startups are becoming more resilient and lean, starting and maintaining their ventures more carefully than ever before.  "Part of the resilience of these small businesses comes from having a very good support network around you, whether that’s friends and family or local corporates" says Lucy, but she warns to be wary of the 'Guernsey Grapevine'. "The information you get from asking your family members or friends could be wrong and outdated information for your business and could likely land you in trouble."

On the flip side of this advice, the panellists say to make sure that you step out of your echo chamber when setting up your business, "Don't keep your business idea a secret, tell everyone what your plan is!" shares Nichole, "You'll receive very frank honest advice on whether your idea is good." The three panellists agreed heavily on the idea of taking advantage of this willingness to share advice and encouraged attendees that a quick question to fellow business owners and experts can save you from making blind mistakes and is great for getting that feel for your business's future before you get started. The reassurance of an experienced voice could be the support you're searching for, 

The Digital Greenhouse offers many business support programmes and of these the One-to-one Support Meetings and Meet the Expert sessions are the most focused on creating an effective community for entrepreneurs of any level. 

“100% it comes down to bravery but so much of running your own business comes down to guts, bravery and taking a chance.”

Nichole Culverwell, Director of Black Vanilla

Insight #3: Limber up to change and pivot. 

In the current climate, the ability to change and pivot is so vital. You have got to be able to fail faster than ever before. With the high turnover rate for new technologies in our complex digital revolution era, the entrepreneurial landscape will look vastly different in the next 3 to 5+ years as new technologies come out and customer needs change. If you're running a business and not considering this then you will struggle to survive.

An easy blocker to business growth is found in sitting stagnant or within the phrase 'we have always done it this way.' As we see more disruptive business models developing internationally, it no longer makes sense to build businesses the same way we have been doing in the past. With so many different kinds of business models available that have broken the mould of what it means to set up and run a business, there are many new and innovative directions a modern entrepreneur can take. Lucy says, “When you’re starting a new business there’s an opportunity to really look at your business model. We can't keep building the same businesses of the past for the future. What can you automate? What can you use technology for? Think of where you want to sit in the technology spectrum as it will change the way you want to base your business, run and hire for your business."

We've all heard the phrase 'fail fast,' especially if you're familiar with the innovative agile working approach. Though it may sound counterintuitive, knowing how to iterate achieves desired results quicker than continuously perfecting solutions. There is a startup myth that says, 'Success = Great idea + Determination.' Simply putting all your energy and efforts into making a business idea successful is like scooping water out of a sinking boat instead of inflating the life ring. By failing, over and over again and LEARNING from it as quickly as possible you will greatly increase your odds of being a successful entrepreneur.


Insight #4: Stop setting yourself timed targets. 

We have all been there, setting those yearly impossible targets that we always struggle to meet - then feeling stressed and distressed when those targets are not met. If you're an entrepreneur your yearly business goal might be to earn a certain amount of money, hire a number of staff or open a store but by the time you reach your goal deadline you haven't reached these ideals and find yourself feeling dejected. 

Furthermore, goals create an “either-or” conflict: either you achieve your goal and are successful or you fail and you are a disappointment. By doing this you are mentally boxing yourself into a narrow version of happiness or success. 

Instead, try to set targets that you can achieve along your journey, and always make time to look back at what you have actually achieved. It'll always be more impressive than you expect! When you fall in love with the journey rather than the end result, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. And your business can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.


You can watch the panel session back in full below.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2022 brings insight and celebrations

Read more here!

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