This entrepreneur has 3 essential lessons for launching a startup when the economy is struggling

The Academy Brand. Photo: supplied.

With global markets coping a thrashing this year, the economic climate can be a challenging for Australian startups looking to grow and expand into new markets.

The Academy Brand founder Anthony Pitt knows the challenges associated with this struggle all too well.

Pitt started his apparel business at the beginning of the GFC, when the Australian dollar was sitting at 58 cents against the USD, and when marketing tools now seen as essential to the fashion industry, such as Instagram, had not been invented.

Despite those challenges, Pitt was able to transform The Academy Brand from a small scale concept into a multi-million dollar wholesaler to Glue Store, The Iconic, and David Jones as well as operates in five stand alone stores across Sydney. In the past year the brand has opened two Westfield stores and another half a dozen are in the works for 2016.

In 2015 the business doubled its turnover to in excess of $10 million.

Taking what he learned while growing The Academy Brand from a startup to success, Pitt shared his top three tips for working in challenging economic times with Business Insider, so that others can learn from them.

Here they are.

1. Stay single-minded

It’s very easy for any entrepreneur to get carried away with a business idea. There can be a tendency to want to run before you walk. But from personal experience it’s very important to stay focused and remain single-minded.

Don’t jump around. Don’t chop and change. Stay true to the idea and keep reminding yourself why you are doing it.

This will help you remain focussed and not push the business into directions it’s either not ready for or simply shouldn’t go. The fact you actually have a business idea and want to bring it to life is entrepreneurial enough. To turn the idea into a success requires an unwavering drive and belief in that idea. That means staying single minded.

2. Keep Moving forward

When you start a business in any situation it’s important to keep things moving forward. You can’t let yourself or the business sit in idle. That means always challenging yourself, always looking to grow your target market and always wanting to be better. But this is even more critical in difficult economic times. When there is a financial squeeze on most people tend to go into their shell and completely take the foot off the pedal.

It’s important to be strategic and smart during these times but in many instances actually increasing your will to push forward is the best way to go. When nobody else will that may be what your business needs to get ahead.

That does’t mean doing something drastic or suddenly spending whole lot of extra money on your business. It means you can try a little harder, work a little later and be a little better. When people are in idle things just move past them. That’s business suicide. Don’t stop what you are doing when times are tough. Just look to be better. Don’t be scared during tough times.

Back your business to take you through to the other side. In many cases this just means working harder. Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how few businesses actually do it.

3. Ask questions

One of the most important things you should be doing when starting a business is asking questions. This may be asking questions of your staff, of you mentors or your customers. It’s critical that you are always communicating with the right people. The people that will help take your business forward.

Starting any business is never easy. in difficult financial times it appears harder to borrow money, harder to manage staff and harder to grow your business. This may all be true. But understanding what you can do to make these things happen requires proactivity. Asking questions. Don’t pretend to be an expert in every area.

Identify where your strengths are where your weaknesses are. Knowing this is powerful tool. By asking the right questions of the right people you will gain valuable information that may just help you shape your business. Sometimes you need to hear perhaps what you don’t want to hear.

The real entrepreneurs understand when to listen and when not to.

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