Are you ready to start your entrepreneurial endeavor? Do you have what it takes? Will you succeed? Every year millions of people ask themselves these questions as they prepare to embark on a journey that could lead to money, time, confidence, or even heartbreak. To give you an idea as to how many; The birth rate of Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in 2014 was 78,430. That’s no small number.
According to these same statistics, many business survive each year, but as someone on the verge of this life-changing decision, fear of failure is still a real thing. How can you make sure that you are among the winners rather than the losers in this high-stake game? The answer is inside of you. You must ask yourself four key questions to determine whether your own small business will survive and thrive.
Do You FEEL Ready?
I know, I know, what kind of a monster am I starting with the hardest question first, but there’s good reason; IT’S DAMNED IMPORTANT.
What I mean is, are you mentally prepared for the switch from employee to boss? Do you feel capable of making decisions now about everything from office products to product line? This total control is one of the driving forces behind many people who take the plunge into starting their own business but it is also one of the elements that drives new entrepreneurs crazy.
When you start out there is an endless list of decisions that need to be made and new questions pop up every day. Even more important, you will need to remember that in a small business you will wear many hats. Even if you manage to start out with one or more employees you will each fulfill more than one role in your new business.
If you are running a one-man or one-woman show then you serve in every capacity from file clerk to maintenance crew to salesman to CEO. Can you handle switching from task to task and role to role like that? More importantly still, are you willing to make those switches?
Similarly, it’s wise to prepare your family and friends for this switch in attitude. Your life is going to change — likely more than you realise at this point— and that change can have a positive or negative impact on your family life and social interactions. It will make things much easier if your friends and family are supportive going into the process.
Where Are Your People?
Do you know your target audience and your niche yet? One of the reasons many businesses fail is that they fail to focus on a target audience. Sure, if you are a major discount chain then you can sell everything from peanuts to wallpaper but this type of business requires vast resources that just aren’t available to the small business.
Don’t get discouraged though as small businesses dominate the marketplace (as of December 2015, the Canadian economy totalled 1.17 million employer businesses) by finding a different approach — niches.
A niche is a specialized market, essentially a small but specific (and well defined) segment of the population to which you will focus your efforts. Niches do not ‘exist’ but are ‘created’ by identifying needs, wants, and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by the existing products and services available.
Knowing your niche means you are better able to find, target, and maintain your customers as well as provide the best possible goods and services to that customer base. That focus is one of your best chances to not only survive but to thrive in a very competitive marketplace.
Do You Have a Plan?
Another key factor in the survival and ultimate success of your business is how much planning you do before you open your doors. Having even a basic business plan in place will help not only your confidence, but help to truly define your purpose and goals.
Plus, there are many things to consider, so it’s best to know your answers before the questions are asked. Here are a few key ones to get you going:
- Will my business be a physical or virtual one?
- Do I want to work full-time or part-time on my business?
- Would I need to hire help?
- Can I say that I have the skills to complete the work?
- Should I get a loan?
- What taxes do I need to pay?
- Which type of insurance do I need?
- Have I the materials, products, programs, or services will I need?
Dreaming, thinking and planning can save you much trouble and waste later when things are hectic and problems strike. Planning can also help keep you focused and to balance your spending and time.
Who Are You Going to Call?
At some point, no matter how experienced a business person you are, you will need help. I could tell you stories about the many, MANY times I was in the very same boat while in the first few months of running Sassy Lasses.
Trust me when I say, you will need support, advice, tools, or information — or all of the above. One of the beautiful, and most frightening, aspects of growth is that it can lead you to places you never imagined; It can open doors you didn’t even know existed. No matter how much planning and experience you bring to your new position as CEO the unexpected will arise.
How will you cope with this? It is important to recognize that no business is an island. It is not failure to seek help. Failure is when your business shuts down because you didn’t get the help you needed. Failure is giving up. Everything else is a kink.
The best way to get timely help is to work on your support system while you work on building your business. That way you will already have a ready list of resources available that you can quickly tap into when emergencies strike. In today’s world, there are many marvelous resources available to you no matter what your business model may be. These include:
- Publications (newsletters, magazines, books)
- People (professional advisors, mentors, teachers, consultants)
- Networks (organizations and forums in your niche as well as general business and marketing)
- Education and training (tutorials, courses, and seminars)
Once you have answered these four key questions you are now ready to ask yourself that one big question again — are you ready to start your own business?
Tell us in the comments below, we would love to be part of (and support) your journey!
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