FOR anyone considering starting a business, the second challenge – after coming up with the basic concept – is looking for risk capital.
That’s as true in Scotland as anywhere. In the year to December last year, the country saw a 20 per cent increase as, according to a Scottish Enterprise report, venture capitalists and angel investors ploughed more than £244m in to the nation’s start-ups.
Attracting capital – and then paying for it – can deter potential entrepreneurs, especially those who know their professional or industrial niches but who have less confidence in either preparing business plans or dealing with financiers – even when a slice of £244m could be available.
So, how do you launch a new enterprise while keeping the financial outlay to a minimum?
That was exactly the second question facing AsPerceived Quarterly – which we describe as a ‘miscellany of contemporary journalism’ – once the idea had emerged, about a year ago.
The answer to that and many others were found in today’s technology.
Even 20 years ago, producing publications that looked professional was not cheap. As well as contributors who wanted paying for licences to use their copyright material, typesetters and designers usually had to be hired. Printing technology was such that the smallest viable run was usually 1,000 copies, which had to be paid for, then stored, sold and distributed.
Now, basic production software is available free. More sophisticated programs are not unduly expensive. Print can literally be on-demand with no minima. Tech giants provide fulfilment services without credit checks or any up-front finance, opening the distribution routes to those at or near the bottom of the ‘creative food chain’ in a way that was previously unknown.
Experience, imagination and skills then come to the fore – in creating a product that doesn’t look or feel as if it’s been cobbled together using a downloadable template by an amateur with no appreciation of subbing or typography.
Most risk capital pays for premises and people. So, one logical way to lessen the need for such cash is avoid or manage such disproportionate costs imaginatively. Corporate headquarters can be anywhere someone with a laptop can get online.
And people? Depending on the nature of the enterprise, if they like the idea even those who don’t have capital to risk or invest may take a punt with their time.
For writers, for example, the clue is in the numbers. Writing 60,000 words may take one person 30 days or more; 30 people can each produce as much in a single working day, if they’re equally productive. The risk is shared. The art then is making sure the remuneration is as great an incentive as possible – accompanied by accounting procedures that are fair and wholly transparent to those involved.
This isn’t the entire story, of course. Many more lessons, most learned painfully over several decades, went into the recipe, especially in avoiding as many potential pitfalls and unnecessary, foreseeable, difficulties as possible. The result? Like so much, the proof is in this particular pudding mix of informative, informal, entertaining and eclectic journalism.
Adam Christie is joint editor/publisher of AsPerceived Quarterly, a newly-launched ‘bookazine’ of long-form contemporary journalism.
Purchase a Kindle version of volume one, here.