What could be better than not having to answer to anyone and do what you please, when and how? Wow! Truly amazing, just think of all the freedom associated with starting and running a business. But is it all that peachy? Well, those who’ve done it and are doing it will tell you otherwise – starting a business and running it is not only extremely risky and tough but oftentimes burdensome. So, should you start a business?
You wouldn’t be reading this post if you haven’t already thought about starting a business – perhaps you’ve already taken the leap of faith and are here merely in search of approval or justification of sorts. Whatever the case may be, to truly answer the question whether you should go into business of your own, you’ll have to be honest with yourself and identify your true motivation or driving force behind it – is it a profit-making, desire to solve some problem millions of people are affected by or perhaps to right a wrong you feel very strongly about.
Whatever the driving force behind, remember that having a big why, not only in business but life in general is the key to success. So figure out what’s your big why before you do anything else or run a risk of running out of steam and quitting when the going gets tough and you encounter various obstacles which are sure to pop like wild mushrooms as your startup grows.
You see, I know this first hand, for before Parttimerz – my latest business venture – I’ve started three different businesses without having a big why all of which eventually flopped but not due to a bad idea, faulty business model or bad timing, I failed due to lack of staying power or perseverance to see things through when going got tough – all because I lacked the big why. So nail that big why before proceeding.
Now that you know why you want to go into business, you’ve got to take into consideration the inherent risk associate with starting a business and plan your exit prudently – assuming you are currently employed. Unless you’re financially stable and have certain level of financial freedom i.e., could live off your savings and without monthly income for 2 years maintaining your lifestyle, you should keep your day job while starting a business.
There are other ways to fund your business one of which is referred to as other people’s money (OPM) which essentially means you reach out to family and friends in the early going for funds and subsequently – should your business really seem very promising and start to take off – angel investors and venture capitalist. For now, let’s assume you’ll finance your business hence, must ensure you have enough capital to do so, usually 12-18 months worth of cash.
Unless you plan to go into a brick and mortar business, you’ll be able to keep your day job and work on your startup simultaneously. Clearly other factors and commitments i.e., family, kids etc. come into play and can cause additional challenges but ultimately you should be able to manage it – others have done it and so can you.
Next, now that you know why you want to go in business and ideally what unmet needs, wants or pains you intend to fulfill and address, you should translate it all onto paper or a word document in the form of a business plan. While I’m not a very strong proponent of a full-fledged business plan, I do believe that each entrepreneur must have some form of a business plan comprising the basics i.e., who, what, how, where etc. Simply think through who your target audience is, what product or service you’re going to offer to fulfill their unmet needs and how you intend to go about it (go-to-market (GTM)).
One thing to keep in mind as you start is no matter how good of an idea and bullet proof business plan you may have, getting the word out about your business and reaching your target audience is going to be very tough. The reason is simple, we live in a very noisy world and standing out requires some serious planning, know-how, hard work and dedication. So get your social media strategy ready and commit to it. While myriad of exceptional articles on social media marketing are readily available, in the end it’s going to come down to your hard work and commitment, so be ready.
Finally, one last advice, be flexible and don’t let your ego get in the way of your success. In the early weeks and months of your business, you’ll have to do much tweaking and pivoting. Essentially, you’ll have to set a number of different metrics which are conducive to your business success and along with much important customer’s feedbacks, both positive and negative, use to make the necessary improvements to your business. Keep an open mind but don’t be a pushover and sway whichever way the wind blows, tweak and improve only that which really needs improvement and don’t try to please every single client’s request or a complaint, for you could eventually find yourself running the business you didn’t set out to.
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