Starting up a business can be quite an intriguing experience. All the adrenaline rush, exciting daydreams and hopeful projections can make one weak in the knees. Raise your hand if you know that feeling.
It’s even more exciting when you’ve been able to craft a business around something you really love. Not everyone knows how to do this. It can be a very intimidating process trying to figure out an awesome business around your passions. I wrote something on how to do that anyway just in case you are stuck there. Don’t mention. I got you covered.
So, say you’ve been able to craft a brilliant idea around some passion of yours and are ready to get the rubber to hit the road. Great! You have some money and want to invest. Beautiful. But before you do that, let me ask you, do you have it all figured out? Yes? OK, ride on. This post is not for you.
Did someone scream ‘no’? OK. Good. This is a list to assist you. Carefully go through this list. Your life might just depend on it. I’m just kidding. But it just might though. Here we go.
#1. CARRY OUT DETAILED RESEARCH
This looks very obvious right? Still a lot of people, including myself a while ago, just ignore this all important rule and jump right into a venture once the light bulb flickers in their head. This is wrong. No, it’s fatal.
It is very important to carry out research on whatever golden egg idea it is you have. You need to check for market trends. You should ask and generate answers for a couple of questions.
i. How are people buying? How is the economy?
ii. Is your product a seasonal one or a hot-cake anytime?
iii. Are there competitors in the market? It’s almost impossible that there is nobody already doing what you have in mind, one way or the other. You need to see how they are faring and even learn a thing or two from them. They have the experience. You don’t.
iv. If you’re lucky enough to not have a competition, then you are not that lucky. You now have to find out how will your product be accepted in the market? How will people treat a new product no one has ever seen or heard of?
v. What government policies affect you and your product on a federal, state and local level? How is the taxation like? Amenities? Infrastructure?
There is so much to research, I will have to do a post on it in the coming weeks. But for now, these few questions should guide your research. And make sure you generate realistic answers for these questions.
#2. SET UP AN ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
An organisational structure is an outline of the pattern of management your business will adopt for the purpose of running with ease.
Except your business is a sole-proprietorship, it is highly unlikely that you alone will wear all the hats that go with owning a business. Just imagine a tower of at least ten hats on your head. Looks dumb right? That’s exactly what running a business without an organizational structure looks like.
Businesses require manpower in managing finances, production and/or service provision, public interactions, logistics, marketing, sales, legalities, purchases. Are you getting the picture? All these are too much for one man to handle. hence, the importance of assigning roles ahead of time. Spell out who controls what and be specific about what qualifications are needed for each role.
The point of organizational structure is for you to be able to effectively do what you do best, while more qualified people handle the rest. Don’t overlook this.
#3. FIND A MENTOR
In life, there are stages. Some we have gone through, some we are going through, some we will go through. While you are still where you are (and know where you want to be), it is important to get wisdom from people who are well ahead of you.
There are valuable insights and wisdom that can be garnered from interacting with mentors in your field or whom you respect generally. Find one, at least, and patiently learn from him or her. Who knows what you could learn?
Find someone who will hold you accountable for your actions and results. Someone that can hand your ass over to you if the need arises.
#4. GET LEGAL ADVICE
The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. You don’t want to end up going to jail for an ignorant crime, just because you were patriotic enough to choose to be a good citizen and do business and not be a criminal. So ironic.
The services of an attorney is needed not only to prevent the above scenario, but also to guide you through your business registration and legally back your transactions so you don’t end up getting cheated. Yes business people get cheated too. It might cost you a little but its not comparable to what you stand to gain.
You want to start a business and the only people you know are the friends you made in high school, 10 years ago? Really? Well, you will sell though. You will only sell to your inner circle and their inner circle.
To really succeed, you need to get out there. You need to move out of your inner circle and connect with people. Get to know more about them and their businesses. Make at least one new friend daily. Not just any, though Someone who can help you grow.
Leave that couch!
#6. CALCULATE ALL EXPENSES
There are costs involved in creating a business. Cost of getting raw materials, tax, salaries, marketing costs, consultancy fees, equipment, land, on and on and on. Some of these costs are fixed, some are variable. Every industry has its own array of expenses so you have to do a streamlined research on this.
If you did your initial research well, this would not be much of a problem to you. It will just be a case of matching results to costs.
#7. PREPARE FOR EVENTUALITIES
Business is no child’s play. And it’s not a gamble either. Even if you had an astrologer spell out every single phase of your business, the possibility of unforeseen eventualities hitting can never be ruled out.
You have to be prepared.
Like I said, they are unforeseen eventualities, so you don’t really know what they are. But preparing for them is still needful. Keep extra cash by the side. Keep contacts active (why you should network). Keep your options open. The economy could fall, buyers might get bored, key staff may bolt, you never know what’s coming. You have to be ready.
Get some insurance.
#8. DETERMINE YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINT
Now what’s this? Here’s what.
You are about to try to convince a group of habitual buyers to pull off from what they’ve always bought and start patronizing you. (Because you are that selfish. We all are!) They need to have a very good reason to dump their first love and move in with you. If you are not offering something new and more exciting, there’s no point even trying.
You need to give them a reason to come and always return. A unique selling point. A unique feature. A unique experience. Something different. What is that for you? You decide.
#9. FIGURE OUT AN EXIT STRATEGY
An exit strategy? Yes, an exit strategy.
Sometimes, business doesn’t end up being as rosy as we envisioned. Things could go really awry. Continuing might just be pointless. Or maybe, it all goes very smooth, and you run this business well into old age or you discover another more exciting venture you do not want to pass up on but cannot run both at once. At a point, you have to let go, for whatever reason there is. This is where an exit strategy is important. You need to make sure you have one, so that when the time comes, cause it will, you will not be confused on what to do.
You might decide to sell off your equipment in the event of a downward spiral, or possibly pay off staff and close down before it is too late. Or in the case of good times, pass it off to a younger relative or qualified employee or even sell for much more than you started with.
Whatever your plan is, it has to protect you.
So folks, that’s it for today. Now I know this is not an exhaustive list. My God can i write an exhaustive list? If there is something you know I left out, be kind enough to drop it in the comment box. I will love to hear from you.
And do remember to share too. Let someone hear of this.
Have a great weekend, I’ll see you Monday.