The Best Time to Start Your Business


It’s official. No less an authority than Forbes says so. The best time to start your business is in a recession.

They list ten compelling reasons: people need to save money in a recession; existing companies are vulnerable; things are cheaper; good people are looking for work – and so on.

And it looks like they’re right. The Telegraph recently reported on the insurer, Hiscox, and their DNA of an Entrepreneur survey. More than 3,500 business owners across the UK, Europe and the US shared their results: 49% of businesses started in the recession reported a rise in profits over the past 12 months, compared with 42% of older firms. In the UK the gap was even wider – 49% compared to only 40% of older firms.

So both the anecdotal evidence and the analytical evidence are compelling: if you’re thinking of starting a business (and I’d guess the same holds true for expanding an existing business) you’d better wait for the next recession. Obviously there’s a problem in that none of us are sure when that’s going to be, but you’ll just have to learn to be patient.

Or maybe that’s complete nonsense.

Because according to a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine, the best time to start your business is… right now! And what do you know? They list a series of equally compelling reasons: the economy is bouncing back; credit is becoming more easily available – and it’s backed by new sources of funding like Kickstarter; technology is levelling the playing field between new and established businesses…

What are you waiting for? Get out there and start something! Expand your existing business – this afternoon if you’ve any sense.

Or maybe they’re both wrong.

Let me ask a simple question: what’s the best time to have children? Logic dictates that it’s when you’re starting to feel financially secure; when you’ve got a house that’s big enough; definitely when there aren’t likely to be any disruptions in your professional or personal life. Oh – and obviously when you’ve moved into the catchment area for a good school, and being close to one or both sets of parents would be handy for babysitting as well…

Well, we didn’t tick those boxes. I’m not sure I know anyone who did. You have children when it feels right. It’s the same with getting married: you can plan all you like. Draw up your yellow pad and circle any number of years when you think you’ll be ready. And then, bang. You meet someone. Yellow pad flies out of the window…

And that’s how it is with starting your own business. Sadly you can’t make a nice, convenient, search engine friendly, ‘ten reasons why’ blog post out of it, but the simple truth is that the best time to start your own business is when it feels right for you. When you know that you simply have to do it or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. When you’re sitting in the motorway service station two hundred miles from the people you love with someone else dictating how you spend your time and your life – and you know it has to change.

Expanding your existing business or making that leap of faith and taking on new people are exactly the same. The best time to do it is when it feels right: when there’s an opportunity you simply can’t ignore. No, you may not have all your ducks in line, but we’re entrepreneurs: all our ducks are never going to be in line.

And with that sombre warning about wildfowl, I’m going on holiday for a week. The blog will return, refreshed and re-invigorated on August 28th, when it’ll be breakfast in America for me as I take on board the wisdom and insights of my TAB colleagues from around the world.

The trip always fills me with enthusiasm and I couldn’t be more excited about the last four months of 2015: the TAB York Boards are in great shape and they’re made up of people that brighten my every working day. There’s a huge amount we can achieve – and now feels like exactly the right time to start…

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