Taking the leap to start a new business venture is not a decision to be taken lightly. Most people fail to ask themselves the difficult questions before making that move. The strength of the answers may mean success or failure. So, what makes you cut out to be an entrepreneur?
As our world goes global and more high-tech, new opportunities abound. What used to take a team and potful of cash now can be done by yourself using your cellphone. The question to yourself is: “Are you able to create something unique that is not found anywhere else?” This is called the Unique Value Proposition or Product. Would someone buy from you and will that purchase address a need?
· Do you know the market? Have you prepared the field work to understand the size of the market you are penetrating? Who are your customers and do you have a customer profile in your head? The more specific it is, the closer you are to defining your efforts and targeting them.
· Know that sufficient customers are feeling the need for your innovation. Just your gut feeling that there is a customer out there may not make a successful business. You need to take yourself out of the equation, and find if there is truly a demand for your product or service. Ask questions from not just family and friends but strangers as well. Get objective reactions.
· Know your product. It is rare that a customer will buy from an innovator who does not know his or her product. You must have thorough expertise in the field to produce a superior product that answers the needs of your clients. Know your field inside out.
· Select partners, associates, consultants and staff who share your enthusiasm and goals, and who must be skilled in the functions they are asked to perform.
· Avoid your product’s drawing the reaction, “Oh, another one!” What innovation do you offer that sets your product above the common?
· The experience is an adventure; you do not have all the answers on day one. Be willing to learn, and, most importantly, unlearn to keep up with a rapidly changing world. Avoid settling for the tried and true—they just don’t apply anymore.
· Be strong. No successful business is without serious challenges. Be confident and work creatively and confidently. Your excitement in your product will be infectious.
· Throw your passion out there; let it become your clients’ faith in you. Do not jump in to your venture as an escape from a job or an employer you hate. Your adventure must be positive, or the negative will show. No client wants to deal with an ‘escape artist’ from the corporation where you didn’t have all the responsibility—now you do.
· A firm foundation for success is a solid background of a full slate of material, financial and professional resources to hold you through ‘start-up’ until your product is in demand. Good advice is not free and cheap. You need to budget for these costs. Ask for references and consider them an added value and investment to your business future, not just another cost.
· Be willing to give 110%. Starting a new business is exciting and demanding. Make your fun the realisation of your dedication, not whatever entertainment might be co-incidental. The demands will be great; so, be wary—no one starts a new enterprise to relax or play. Work it! You are no longer 9-5. Be prepared to put in the hours.
· Creative independence is a wonderful thing which you may find rewarding in a business of your own devising; however, no business exists without an interdependence on suppliers, staff, government, accountants, customers, transportation and communication. You are not an island; isolation means failure, learn to accept constructive criticism and treat your staff and people you work with respectfully. Abusive relationships never last. Business’s longevity is more about creating positive relationships.
· Get your family behind your venture. Emotional support is even more important than financial support. You work hard all day, and the last thing you need is a family that does not share in your dream. However, working with family is often fraught with problems as personal boundaries often encroach on professional relationships. If you have to work with family, draw Strict lines of roles of responsibilities and accountability.
There you have it. Starting a successful business is neither easy nor a straight-line ticket to fame and fortune. If it were, everyone would have done it by now. However, if you create a realistic and prepared foundation before you start, you are well ahead of most people who have similar ideas, yet only a dream.
How you, the working man, can begin a new business
So, you want to build a new business and keep your day-job.
You know you need the income from your regular employment until the rewards come in from your new venture. You want to keep your financial security to give you both freedom and confidence as you develop.
To do this, you must be aware of the signals and signs, stop and go, as you move forward.
1. Take the advantage of keeping your regular employment. This will give you income and benefits before your new venture brings security, avoiding the discouragement of massing many bills without an income and savings.
2. Follow carefully the terms of your regular employment. Any development done as an employee belongs to that company, especially intellectual property (IP). Due diligence is the key: check your employment contract, the Employee Manual and the advice of Human Resources. Keep yourself in the clear.
3. Budget, save and invest. You want to be in the best possible shape when you take on your new venture as your primary employment. Save all profits from the new venture before you leave your first job; budget so that all funds are accounted for and used judiciously; invest any surplus for a return in a secure portfolio. Such care is intended to give you a secure foundation once you take the jump to the new venture.
4. Be open with your current boss. Your employer may take an interest in your new venture if his business is compatible with your new one, such that he may choose to invest. Try to be as collaborative as possible. If there is any ongoing business relationship, sound legal advice would help clarify the future relationship and avoid conflict in the future.
5. Schedule, organize, plan. Time is of the essence, for you will be busy. Your personal and professional associations may feel ignored as your venture gathers speed. Be honest and open with them about your constraints. Keep your family, friends and associates informed by maintaining a clear and committed schedule.
6. Move when the moving is good. When the balance between your old employment and your new potential has reached it optimal condition, it’s time to go. With a sufficient income, professional connections, and paying clients and customers, your leaving one for the other may be a positive opportunity for a better future. When managing two becomes stagnant, it’s time.
7. Invest in your own communication and technological supports. Keep both job and venture absolutely separate from each other so there is not confusion or conflict between you and your first employer, Employers have the right to access any information on their equipment. Your venture is yours and yours only.
8. Avoid leaving the first employment too early. Try to ride out a few ups and downs until the business growth is steadily increasing at a predictable rate. Consistency will be the key to your going it ‘alone’. Your balance sheet should be your guide over time.
9. Avoid choosing the wrong business. Match your skills and interests and your expertise with the marketplace. A table of tenth century Chinese burial artefacts will not go well at a Saturday morning farmer’s market, no matter your passion for them. Be sure that you have the associated supports within reach.
10. Avoid discussing this personal business too openly. Keep the discussions of your business adventure to yourself and away from your office, for you don’t know where the gossip will go, what your supervisor's attitude will be and what jealousies you might invoke. Loose lips sink ship-loads of orders.
With your enthusiasm and expertise, there is every reason to realise your passions and dream. The process is an act of love, intelligence, expertise and determination. Thousands have done it—be one of them.