Things to Consider when Starting a Business
If you have ever thought about starting a business, you know full well that the act of becoming an entrepreneur takes a certain amount of gumption.
Most people flirt with the idea for a while before giving it serious thought, but there are those spontaneous souls among us who jump right in without even batting an eye. The fast and furious approach to entrepreneurship works for some, but if you want to really get the best chance at success you might want to mull over it for a little while.
It can help to make sure your idea can pass the family test, the friend test, and, of course, the financing test (if you need to raise money to get started that is). You also have to let go of the fear of falling flat on your face, and come to terms with the fact that you may have to make a conscience effort to go to Movietowne on a Tuesday or start planning house limes instead of hitting the Avenue with your credit card in tow.
But if you manage to wrap your brain around those few hurdles, and you are still fantasizing about starting a business, it’s time to get serious. There are a few questions every budding entrepreneur needs to be able to answer before they can confidently claim readiness for the trials of starting a business from scratch.
What will I sell?
You might think this is elementary, but many people know they want to start a business, yet they have no idea what direction to take. When you ask them “In what?”, they stumble over a long list of possible ideas, and can’t seem to decide on one thing. I know you must be familiar with the old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”, and certainly you don’t want your business to be like this. There is a difference between planned diversification, and a lack of vision, so focus on what you want to offer first.
Will anyone other than my mother pay for what I’m selling?
Some business ideas should never make it past the conception stage, but for whatever reason, some bad ideas slip past all the other stages, and manage to get to the point where they are being offered to the public. Then comes the rude awakening that your potential customers neither have the interest nor the inclination to pay for what you are trying to peddle. This is why you need to ask the right people the right questions. Market research can sound complex, but all it requires is the ability to find the right group of people, and ask them the right questions. Of course, you can’t take offence to the findings, and resent your test market for their opinion. It is better to hear a hard truth than to learn a difficult lesson, after you throw all your savings and your family inheritance behind a bad business plan.
Has this been done before? Has it been done to death?
It may be hard to come up with something that is completely original. Let’s face it, even our music has become a series of samples with a new twist here and there, but there is nothing wrong with innovation. As a matter of fact, some of the most successful business ideas come from taking something that already exists, and adding something extra or delivering it in a different way.
Do I have the money to get started?
Before you assume that you don’t need to look for financing from outside sources, it pays to actually figure out what it will cost to get started. Factoring in things like your raw materials, rent, other utilities, and, of course, additional labour, it will help to come up with a realistic forecast of how much money you need to get off the ground.
Do I really have what it takes?
I would never dissuade those who want to get into business from doing just that, but entrepreneurship is not an easy mantle to pick up. You may have to start off being captain, cook and chief bottle-washer, as the old people say, which takes a heavy dose of drive. If you are looking for an easy ride, you might be better off showing up to work, and collecting your pay at the end of the month.
Have I considered all the angles?
Finally, you need to take stock of your intentions. One easy way to do that is to draft a business plan. Now it might seem like this is optional, but really everything that was mentioned before this step should form part of a proper business plan. A written business plan is actually strongly recommended because it forces you to go through the motions, and not take anything for granted.
Starting a business is not for the faint-hearted, but few accomplishments can compare to trying entrepreneurship on for size and finding that it fits perfectly.
Natalia Jones publishes dcaribbeanentrepreneur.com, which features business tips and news for upcoming entrepreneurs across the Caribbean.