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5 top tips for turning your talent into a business

Northern Ireland inventor and entrepreneur Ciaran Larkin offers his top tips on how to harness passion and talent, to create a spirited and fulfilling business.

1. Question your passion

Everyone has a talent but not everyone has enough passion to turn their talent into a business.

I advise asking yourself if your passion for your project is permanent. For me, it was clear from a very young age that I was always destined to make things, and whilst I didn’t know why or how exactly I would end up making a career from this, I trusted my instinct and let my passion guide me.

Nobody starts out an expert at anything but passion for your subject can make you one. My skills were years in the making – with every project I get better. At the age of nine, I was building super hero-inspired items from old shoe boxes. Right now, I am making electronic prototypes for one of the biggest brands in the world.

This kind of experience in building my skillset didn’t come easy – not only did it mean working 7 days a week with a lot of all-nighters, but along the way I put my parents through years of torment due to my unconventional industrial work in our family home.

I’d be working all night making a mess, getting metal and spraypaint everywhere. As tough as those times were, I can show them now that it was all for a purpose. Listening to and following my unrelenting obsession for what I do led me to where I am.

2. Do it, even if it seems difficult

Taking the first leap into establishing your own business is the hardest. I know, because my journey hasn’t been plain sailing. Despite graduating with a degree in Electronic Engineering from Queen’s University, I couldn’t figure out where to go next. I was an engineer on paper, but an artist at heart. I could make cool things and had a bucket load of ideas, but there wasn’t a clear career path I could follow. All I knew at that was that I wanted to invent.

I spent a long time working a whole range of jobs from offices to nightshifts at a local supermarket. But I didn’t give up, I was still using any spare time I had to work with scrap materials making sure I kept my skills sharp.

There was a breaking point where suddenly I decided I couldn’t work another hour for somebody else, it upset me not to be back home working on my creations, so I took matters into my own hands and my business was born.

3. Develop your brand and know your unique offering

I knew from the outset I would have to focus on international markets, but I had to put a lot of work into developing my offering to set it apart. You might not think that I would have a lot of competition but competition comes from everywhere, and on top of that, companies like Hasbro receive thousands of submissions every year and are always looking for someone with an edge.

Rather than rely on computers, I build my prototypes and masterpieces the old-fashioned way. I use hammers and Dremel tools mostly and although not 100% of my materials are recycled, I try to use scrap materials and disused metal where and when I can.

4. Stay focused

People will try to push you down a conventional path but always trust your own feeling over everything else. If you want to do something unique and a bit different to the norm, you have to be prepared to work hard. When you feel like you can’t go on anymore, keep going. That’s what makes the difference between making it and having to give up.

5. Reflect

Reflecting on how far you have come, be it over the course of a week, a month or a year is really important. I found this process helped me to keep moving forward – I didn’t want to look back at a full month and think that I had achieved little to nothing.

It’s incredible that doing something I love, entirely my way, has led to this incredible life. Two years ago, I was standing in-front of a panel of executives, nervously pitching my ideas and now, I am being invited by Hasbro to be a keynote speaker at industry events, and collaborate with Bushmills Irish Whiskey to inspire other inventors and entrepreneurs.

  • To be in with a chance to attend ‘Whiskey and Invention’ on Thursday 28th September, visit answerthecall.co.uk and register at the events section.

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