In today’s wired world when virtual assistants and remote working is the norm, dreaming of starting on your own is more of a reality than maybe a decade ago. With technology at our fingertips, starting a business, establishing a brand and getting started has become a whole lot easier. Yet, there are some basics we need to keep in mind when it comes to starting a business the right way.
Focus. Many lack focus when it comes to making a decision about starting a business. Too many get carried away by desires, trends and following others. Before long, such businesses face closure not so much because of a lack of business but because without focus, it cannot grow. What are you good at? What is your passion? What are the needs out there? Which need is not being fulfilled? Is there a tally between what you are good at and a need that is not being fulfilled in terms of generating business revenue?
These are the questions you must ask yourself. It doesn’t matter if you have experience, expertise or none at all. What is strategically important is to establish sound business sense - being focused on the right principles, which form the foundation on which your business can grow.
There are many businesses around the world that have been established by business nobodies yet those who were sharp in their ability to grasp what are going on. Their focus was right. Their pitch was perfect. They were able to make a success of their perfectly tuned product or service offering.
Homework. How many bother to do the homework when it comes to starting a business with potential? In other words, do your research - narrow your idea of starting a business down into two or three areas in which you can excel. You cannot be everything to everyone – it doesn’t work. In today’s specialized world, people look for specific, niche-based areas. Once your specific area has been established, get your research going. Are there any others already in that niche? If so, what customer needs are not been met? Is there anything additional that you can add to the product offering – how about value addition or product extensions? Is there potential in such areas?
Sometimes the simplest ideas work best – the simpler it is, the more powerful its workability. You don’t always need to choose the complex options. Keep it simple. A great idea will work if the application is easy. If we look around, we will see many opportunities that can be met with simple yet much-needed services or products. Don’t forget that some of the world’s biggest and most powerful brands were once built on an unfulfilled yet simple enough idea.
Test your market. Ask your friends and family – not necessarily business advice but sound them out. Feedback is important – they may see avenues or obstacles you may have missed. That happens and when it happens, we call it myopic vision. You may be blind to some sides, which only external eyes can see. Get as much feed back as possible – it helps. Always.
Once you have aligned yourself with the area that, in your mind, works best, get set on the numbers. Nothing is what it is without crunching the numbers, right? Put the numbers down, add the calculations and check out the financial viability of your project. Can it generate an income – can it generate a steady income? Can it turn into a thriving business down the line or will it be a fly by night operation? Some entrepreneurs, somehow, cannot grow beyond the initial, flash-in-the-pan stage. It is wise to evaluate the possibilities for growth in the long term before you commit yourself, your time and your resources.
Once you have the scorecard sorted out, you can start fine-tuning your product or service offering. You should ideally not be yet another coffee shop. What is different about your service or your product – that is what will set you apart in the business? That’s your calling card. That will keep you in business in the long term.
Ask anyone and they will tell you that the hardest part in entrepreneurship is not the start – the start is always the easiest. You have the enthusiasm, the drive and the commitment at the beginning. It is the honeymoon phase. Yet, sustaining a business is the toughest part – to keep going, to fine-tune your service levels, to sustain customer interest and retain the business. These are the tough issues that must be well thought out.
Make use of technology – the Internet can help your brand become established; social media can generate sales leads and turn friends into customers. Keep your online presence real – be innovative, add value to what you are offering and keep active. Show the world what you are offering and in today’s global market place, the world is indeed your oyster.
Very often, if you get these basics right, chances are that you will succeed in doing what you have chosen to do. As always, the rest is your capability and capacity and your desire towards a vision of success.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)