If you are struggling to find a job or looking for a fresh new start in your career it may be worth your while considering starting your own business. Naturally this is far easier said than done and there is no easy answer to be found in a short article. Yet if you have ever thought about it, or necessity is dictating that you must think about it, where do you start your research and how do you begin to prepare for such a challenge?
The key is research, research, research, and backbreaking hard work (slouching over books and seemingly endless information on the internet can be backbreaking). Sacrifice and determination are key players in your decision and ability to see it through.
So what should you focus your research on?
#1 Find your business idea – This is what everything hereafter hinges on. You need to find a place in an established market or carve out your own unique path. You can either build on existing business models in the marketplace, providing an additional or complimentary service within a well established sector or create something that you feel has not been adequately provided for and would sell well. Not to over simplify here, but some of the most successful businesses like Amazon started out with a relatively simple idea – to sell books cheap online - which develops into much more over time. Simplicity can work well in the beginning while you fine tune your idea and give you scope to allow it to evolve when your business plan is in place.
#2 Define how you will operate – Will you manufacture something new or more cost effective than competitors, or will you build an online business that can be run from home for now? Manufacturing does not need to be as daunting as it sounds. It can depend on your skill set. Are you good at woodworking? Would you be able to make your own individual style furniture whilst operating out of your garden shed or small local premises? Or perhaps you are artistic and could try selling your paintings online?
#3 Create your Business Plan and Sales and Marketing Plan – We all know we have to create a detailed business plan to outline every aspect of our business goals and how we intend to achieve them. Your business plan identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business and you must address each honestly with your eyes open to all potential pitfalls that may arise to scupper your goals. But equally important to your Business Plan, and often overlooked, is your Sales and Marketing Plan. If you cannot comprehensively outline how you will achieve sales and how you will utilize every marketing opportunity that may be available to you, you may set your targets unrealistically high.
#4 Financing – How are you going to finance your business, and more importantly, how will you finance your own living expenses as you launch your business and during the difficult lean first few months? You have to budget for every aspect of your personal life as well as the new business. Most businesses take time to become profitable and this is the single biggest deterrent to many budding entrepreneurs. If you do not provide your business with enough working capital it will fail, and the same is true for yourself. Start detailed research into grants, small business loans, and angel investments now. Angel investors provide capital in new start ups usually in exchange for equity, whilst websites like Kickstarter are becoming ever more utilized.
#5 Free Information – There is a whole world of free information and tools out there for you to utilize so do not pay for anything that you can find for free. The internet and libraries will provide you valuable resources for every aspect of research on business and customers that you can think of. You can run free surveys, learn how to build and maintain your website – though you will have to pay a small fee for the domain –and stay on top of any current and evolving trends in your given business venture.
#6 Payment – Ensure you research how your customers will pay you and make ample provision for them to pay you by their preferred method. Be aware of the cost of maintaining your payment portals. Bank charges, cost of running online payment accounts and credit card processing fees are some of the elements you need to look into. Online payments are increasingly common and unless you have a physical store to accept cash then online payments are the best option for most start ups.
#7 Sacrifice - Be prepared for this in every sense, personal, financial and emotional because to achieve success in any business venture is never going to be easy regardless of all your preparation and research. I tip my hat at those who try.
So if you arestarting your own business you have to think carefully and do a bit of research. That way hopefully you won't crash and burn.