Before even thinking about embarking on your own business, think about yourself. Can you handle it? Consider the areas in which you thrive. Are you independent? Do you have problems sticking to things, getting tasks accomplished on your own, or completing a to-do list? If so, you will either need to reconsider your plans or train yourself to be better in these areas.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you are weak in these areas. It simply means you may perform better in a structured environment where you’re not in charge of everything.
There are many flaws you can get away with when you’re a business owner. However, being a motivated, disciplined worker is not one of them.
Our opinions and feelings about money are dependent on how much of it we have at the moment. It can be hard to determine what “enough” is, and whether “enough” is what you have.
Of course, some start-ups are far more costly to create than others. You may need to compromise on some of your wishes, at least in the beginning. Look for a midpoint between your ideal plan and an affordable plan.
This start-up calculator will give an idea of how close you are to the amount of money you need.
Be wary of things that could zap your funding before the business even gets off the ground. (For example, hiring too many employees or overspending on equipment.) If you do have employees, each of them should be extremely useful to the business, not just “fluff” workers who sit around all day. (Tip: watch the episode of Parks and Rec where Tom attempts to start a business.)
Vague products and services
This is a problem that must be nipped in the bud from early on, before you even start the business. If you’ve written a business plan and there is still vagueness about what you’re doing, rewrite it.
Have a friend or coworker fire off some questions to you about the business. You should know the answers, even if still in the hypothetical stages. Who is your customer base? What is your business philosophy? Objectives? Techniques for actually executing the work? Will you be working with other companies? Hiring employees or freelancers? All of these things and more must be made clear.
Study up thoroughly on your competition. Learn not only about what they do, but why they do it. There’s a difference between being innovative and taking risks that veterans could’ve told you were a mistake.
If you know people who fit your ideal customer, ask them if they would use the service or product you plan to create. Explain it in-depth and ask what they would expect to pay for something like that. Even if they give a lowball response, you’ll at least know people’s perceptions. That can help down the road when you’re determining how to market things.
Balancing Consistency with Change
There is a bit of a contradiction when it comes to small business. On one hand, you have people telling you to stick to your plan. “Now’s not the time to be taking risks or trying new things.”
On the other hand you have plenty of successful professionals online saying that businesses fail because they stick to plans that aren’t working. “They must be more flexible.”
Both of these are true. However, you’ll have to figure out which issue is relevant to your business. Have you been trying to find investors in the same places for a year without luck? Obviously, it’s time to try something else. Are you running around saying “yes” to every opportunity even when you don’t know what it truly entails? Take a step back and consider your original plan.
You don’t want to lose sight of the business’s goals, but you also don’t want to get stuck in stagnancy.
Consider Working With Others
You may be dead set on an idea and convinced you can do it alone. In some cases, this does work out. However, most successful start-ups involve you plus others, according to writer, programmer, and businessman Paul Graham.
Not only are you likely to need help with the workload (finances, website, marketing, networking) you’ll probably need emotional support as well. At the very least if you’re starting up alone; make sure you have trusted friends with whom you can discuss things you’re unsure about. Everyone in the world can benefit from feedback, and it helps us keep our perspective realistic.
Some problems are unavoidable and out of your control. However, you certainly don’t want your start-up to fail for a reason that could’ve easily been prevented.
Be sure to have a well-designed website that’s thoroughly proof-read. Have a solid business plan in place and don’t just “wing it”. When your phone rings, answer it! Don’t put people off for hours. When you receive an email, be over-the-top with courtesy and professionalism.
These are the things that are in your control. With a little luck, your hard work and innovation will pay off.