It is generally agreed that we need more business start-ups. Small businesses are engines for economic growth, innovation and employment. We need more entrepreneurial activity and that means more individuals taking the dangerous, difficult and courageous decision to start their own business. How do you go about starting a new business? Well obviously you need a good idea. Once you have one I recommend that you ask yourself these questions:
- Am I good at this? Do I have the skills; talents and experience that will help me succeed in this venture? Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Does this venture play to your strengths? How can you compensate your weaknesses?
- Do people really need what I will offer? Who will buy it and why will they need it? If there is no customer need then the business will fail.
- Can I make money doing this? Once it is up and running will it make a good profit? If not, why bother?
- Do I have a business plan? Things will not go according to your plan but the act of making the plan helps you greatly. You will need a sound written plan if you want a loan or investment.
- Do I have the financial resources to get this off the ground? New businesses generally take more time and more money than you at first expect. Will you be able to build the business and cover your living costs for the period until cash flow is positive?
- Does my family support me in this initiative? It is important to discuss your plans with your immediate family and get their buy-in. It will be needed in the difficult months ahead.
- What is different about my business? Is it similar to other businesses or do I have something unique to offer? Why will customers choose us rather than the competition? It is more important to be different than to be better.
- What is my sales and marketing strategy? Who is the target market and how will I reach them? Can we test the sales proposition with some target clients before we go live?
- Do I have a support network of colleagues or friends who can help me and compensate for my weaknesses or lack of experience? Most successful start-ups are partnerships where there is a balance of strengths. If you do not have partners in the business do you have a network of contacts and helpers who can advise and assist?
- Is there a plan B? If things do not go according to plan is there a fall-back strategy for me personally and for the business? Am I flexible enough to adapt and cope with the vicissitudes of a start-up?
You need positive answers to most if not all the questions. Even then it will take enormous commitment and hard work to make the new venture a success. I am sorry to say that most new business start-ups fail. However, for those that succeed there are great personal and financial rewards. Above all the founder can relish the achievement of having created something of real value to the whole community. Good luck with your start-up!