There’s no doubt about it. This is a great time to own a business. Being an entrepreneur is, dare I say, rather a bit ‘sexy’ at the moment.
And there’s a lot of stuff out there in ‘internet-land’ and in the media that tells you that ‘starting a small business is exciting and anyone can do it’. And there are plenty of quick productivity tips to ensure your business is going to become the next Uber or Facebook – aka, the business of your dreams.
To have a business dream (or a goal) is a wonderful thing. Much has been written on the importance of having a purpose and a goal. BUT… a lot of what you’ll read out there is misleading, at least in my opinion, because it’s all about the start (the exciting bit) – not what happens after that – ie; doing the business, day after day after day (the harder bit).
If you’re overly optimistic and impractical at the start, you can get yourself into all sorts of strife. Don’t get me wrong, I love this business – I’ve been doing it for quite some time now. However, running a business can be hard yakka. It’s a long road, fraught with complications and insecurities, and sometimes it can be downright bewildering. That’s all part of its challenges.
So it’s best to be as prepared as you can for what’s to come from the outset. Here are six questions for you to consider before starting.
1. Is my small business idea feasible?
You’re probably not thinking of starting a business that offers return trips to Jupiter (unless you’re Richard Branson – and even his rocket recently blew up), but you need to think about whether you can reasonably execute your business idea. Will your idea require skills or other resources you don’t currently have? Can you develop those skills or find people who can do the job for you? Where would you find those resources and are those resources available to you? If you’re importing, make sure you’re actually able to import said items into Australia easily (or find another way to proceed).
2. Do I have the funds/can I get the funds necessary for starting a business?
Cabaret might’ve hit on a sweet spot when the performers sang ‘money makes the world go ’round’ – and it’s the same with small business. To manage your startup costs, you either need to bootstrap your business or you’ll need access to funds (often in the form of a loan). That means you’re going to need to figure out and have a pretty good idea of how much you need to get your business off the ground, and how/where you’re going to acquire the money you need.
3. Have you done your homework to see if there’s a market for your product/service?
Just like the cliched “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”, everyone’s business idea is “amazing”, until it’s tested by the market. Where everyone is often incorrect is that they think it’s about their idea. But really business success hinges on supplying something that your customers are looking for, preferably in a way that’s at least as good as, preferably better than, the other guy down the road. And then supplying that day after day until your customers suggest something else would please them more.
4. Do you have any experience around your idea?
Regardless of how passionate you are about your idea (whatever it is) – do a bit of research first before jumping all in. If you want to run a B&B but have never worked in one, go volunteer at your favourite one for a couple of weeks to learn the ropes and see if you like it. Along the way, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t and what extras you could bring to the market. Listen to what people say they’re looking for and deliver that. Or if yours is an online idea, by all means get it live and keep refining. But don’t quit your job until your revenue looks like it can sustain at least 50% of your current salary.
5. Am I willing to sacrifice a lot of my time and energy?
Small businesses are great, and when they succeed, there’s no better feeling. But the time and energy it takes to get there is immense.
You may be someone who looks after kids, takes part in book clubs or regular weekly pub trivia nights, has a habit of binge-watching Game of Thrones – all on top of a regular job. And if you want to keep doing that whilst running your business, great. But really, unless you were planning to give something up or just never sleep again, it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to properly invest in your small business. Or you’ll start resenting all the time it’s taking away from those other things.
6. Can I deal with the possibility of ‘failures’ and uncertainty along the way?
It’s a tough truth, but it’s hard to shy away from it – your small business will hit numerous obstacles along the way. Clients might say yes, but drop off at the last second, your tax might be due when cashflow is tight. You might run into walls that you didn’t expect. But again, that’s all part of the business challenge that keeps you on your toes and things interesting.
The best thing you can do is develop the resilience to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and hopefully, try again (or pivot) – this time with the strength, knowledge and experience that comes from making a mistake, to get you back onto the road to success.
What I can tell you is if you really put your mind to it (and your shoulders/back as well); you invest your time, effort, love, into your business and keep your sights firmly focused on serving your customers, then you’re much more likely to succeed. And that’s the best feeling in the world.
If you’re looking for help or advice getting your new business venture started properly, you can give us a call on 6023 1700 or get in touch via the form below.
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If you've got financial or business questions, or you just want to run something by us, we'd be delighted to really talk to you – in person, over the phone - call us on 02 6023 1700 - or you can use the form below and we'll get back to you.
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