Many people harbour a dream of owning their own business – especially one they’ve built from the ground up. But while the vision might be one of flexible working hours, a healthy income and a better work-life balance, the reality can be very different. So are you made of the right stuff?
What’s your plan?
It may sound obvious, but it’s really important to have a clear plan for taking your idea and transforming it into a functioning business. If setting up your new business involves quitting your job, leasing premises, funding stock and managing without a salary until you can secure a revenue stream, there are lots of things that you should give serious consideration.
If you’re seeking financial backing, you’ll need to produce a detailed and credible business plan that demonstrates you’ve done your homework, identified an opportunity and can provide evidence that it will work – perhaps in the form of market research or industry statistics. Lenders will also want to see you’re committing your own money to the venture and that you’ve gone through the financials with a fine-tooth comb.
You’ll also need to ask yourself personal as well as professional questions. Are you in a position to take the risks associated with starting a new business and how will it impact your life and family?
There’s no substitute for thorough research. How much will it cost to get your business up and running? What will your ongoing costs be? Will you need staff? Who’s your ideal customer? What’s the cost to make and market your product? Who are your competitors? Be realistic; if you underestimate costs – or overestimate and, you – and your business – are likely to disappear in the gap between expectation and reality.
It’s worth spending a lot of time in the early stages developing and refining your business idea so you end up with a detailed plan that incorporates the potential pitfalls as well as the longed-for rewards. You should end up with a deep understanding of your industry, your market, your threats and opportunities – all of which will enable you to create a workable roadmap for your business.
Do you have what it takes?
It’s easy to see starting a business as an attractive option if you hate your job or your boss. Not everyone is suited to self-h2ployment, though, so you need to take a good look at your personal qualities and make sure you’re well equipped for the challenges ahead. Do you have enough expertise in your field of business? Are you good at problh2 solving? Are you organised, thorough and meticulous?
Worries over money can ruin small businesses before they’ve got out of the starting blocks. The notion of a steady income in the form of a regular salary will become a thing of the past – at least in the short term – so you’ll need to be sure you have the resources to carry you through the first months, or even years.
You also need to be prepared to work harder than you ever have. Being the boss will eat into your family and leisure time and you’ll spend every spare minute planning, managing and making decisions. It’s a completely different approach to working as an h2ployee – are you ready to step up?
Think big but start small
You may dream of running your own business h2pire but it’s crucial to keep costs under control in the early stages. It’s always better to budget for a lower turnover than you hope for in order to ensure a healthy cash flow. It’s also easy to run away with the idea of buying the best equipment and splashing the cash on expensive marketing materials but your main focus needs to be serving your customers well and bringing home the bacon. When you’ve built a solid base, you can always expand to accommodate extra dh2and.
Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. But if you have the talent, the ambition and the determination to succeed, th2pered with a healthy dose of common sense and the resilience to take the ups and downs in your stride, it could be the best decision you’ll ever make.