I once read in an article published on forbes.com that thoughts of self-employment spread like wildfire in a down economy. A few years down the line and I find this to be true here in Nigeria. These days, everybody just wants to “do their own stuff”. Not to say this is a bad idea or in fact, a good one; the sole purpose of this article is to show you a few things you may be missing if your intention is to thread the path of self-employment – in a more corporate term, entrepreneurship.
I’ve heard people give various reasons why they start their own business, reasons ranging from “I’m tired of the 9-5 lifestyle”, “I have a passion for this”, “there’s a lot of money in this sector”, “I saw a niche in this business sector and thought it was something I could really explore”, even up to those that bamboozle us with the “there is a need and I’m here with this offering to solve it”. The whole point is: YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE SOME CASH.
Before I proceed, I’ll quickly rush to the end of this piece and conclude that the actual lasting businesses that move from being a start-up or MSME to becoming large corporations aren’t just about these highlighted reasons above, they’re the ones built on game changing, life improving, problem solving and trend shaping offerings that are entrenched in uplifting their customers/consumers.
This leads me to the 9 things you should have figured out before starting that business.
1. PEOPLE HAVE THAT SAME IDEA: Every business starts (should start) with an idea, but you need to know that countless people already have the same idea so your worry should be researching that idea so as to fine tune it such that it is unique enough and suitable for your intended target market and is flexible enough to evolve when necessary to stand the test of time. In other words, make that idea into a comprehensive business plan.
2. WHO ARE YOU SELLING TO? This is perhaps the best advice you’d get: don’t try to sell to everybody. Your business is expected to address a particular distress or attempt to provide a pleasure so it is a given that it is not everyone in the world that requires what you hope to give in exchange for their money. This is why you must identify your consumers and tailor your offering according to their demands. Remember, a product or service for everybody is a product or service for nobody.
3. BUSINESS ENGINE/FUEL: You need to determine the resources required to run this business, do you need employees? How many can you start with? Does your business require money to start? How will you get paid? Do you need an operating space – office/workshop/store? How about equipment? Is there a need to lay down a structure of operations at inception? It is essential to lay down answers to these questions as you go.
4. “I DON’T KNOW” IS AN ANSWER: Yes, you don’t need to have it all figured out from the start. In fact, you’ll be amazed at how much you stand to learn in the course of steering your business. So when you’re creating your business plan, don’t be too strategic to the point where you box yourself, allow for some dynamism; take pleasure in failing because that is how you’ll learn best.
5. CAPITAL IS NOT ALWAYS MONEY: Many business ideas have been conceived, killed and buried based on the premise that there are no funds to service them. Now, this perception is wrong; you don’t always need money to start your business nor do you need a lot of money to start. A business idea that is not well put together will not survive even with all the money in the world, so if it’s a good one, just start!
6. PUT IN THE WORK… FIRST: Nobody will support the growth of your business from the outset, and even if anyone did, it can’t last forever. You need to do the work yourself, commit yourself through discipline and diligence. You don’t go about chasing investors from the beginning; rather, you need to show them that they’re missing out if they don’t put their money in your business overtime.
7. CHECK WITH YOUR PREDECESSORS: As a start-up, you’ll be doing yourself a lot of good by monitoring those that have gone ahead of you to take the steps you’re about to take, they know where the loopholes are and can add some value to you from their pool of experience. They are also a good source of inspiration.
8. www.yourbusiness.com: It is very essential for you to be online as a business – it doesn’t matter what kind of business or what sector you operate in – you need to be online. Explore viable social media platforms, blogging, vlogging, a website and whatever else will position your business in the digital space strategically. Study your consumers in order to know where to be; where they are digitally is where you need to be as well.
9. AIM FOR A MONOPOLY: Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, once said in an interview “as an entrepreneur, you want to aim for monopoly, that’s how you create a great business; you want to be differentiated from all the other people doing similar things”. This is why it is important to evaluate your reason for creating your business; this will be the basis for your uniqueness and will help you stay hungry enough to always create that difference in your business.
These 9 things are to help you build a business smartly from scratch to top, but very importantly you need to believe in your abilities and make moves to build that business.