Starting a business… I am sure these three words have pop-ed up in your head at least once. You may have given it a serious thought but decided to brush it aside, due to all the unanswered “what-ifs”. Or, for some of you, you have started the journey before but have given up when circumstances or reasons hit you. Let me tell you, I truly understand and symphatize all of it.
Let me share with you my own set backs. I was first faced with mountains of obstacles and seas of difficulties before launching my consulting business, which finally deserved its well deserved breakthrough. Before I got my practising license as a corporate secretary, I was bound to a near “life-sentence” behind a three walled cubicle every weekday 9 to 5. I felt completely lost like a headless chicken. My physical body felt entombed in this cubicle life even though my heart and soul really wanted to get out of this situation and move to the greener pastures of Barcelona.
Then the thought of starting my own business spread throughout my mind like a raging wildfire being fed with hope and enthusiasm. I attempted to set up an online fashion boutique, not once, but twice! And in both times, I FAILED. And to rub salt in it, each time I was “so-close” to getting it to work. After the second attempt, that big red cross seemed like fate to me and I was totally beat and disheartened. I stoped doing or thinking anything about ‘businesses’ as though it was synonymous with failure on my part.
But as I muddled in the whims and whines of my own reflections, I started to look deeper into myself and began to understand myself more passionately. This was when things took a turn for the better with the birth of this blog and of course the continuing challenges that come part and parcel with sustaining and expanding this blog. But these challenges only keep moulding my strength and wisdom and forcing my learning curve to increase. Looking back, this blog is what shaped me and my consulting business to what it is today and that it helps me live my dream to travel, explore, meet people and share my experiences out there.
Having a fantastic idea to start a business is definitely a big glamorous dream or a final solution for almost everyone. It is true. Everyone can start a business. But in reality, executing and managing a business is a totally different story. You will be loaded with tons of jobs, things-to-know and things-to-do that you may not know how to handle or begin with. Worst still, some of your proposed deliverables will even leave you in the lurch, with very little resources to even figure out how to fulfill.
So how? Should I start a business then? Well, let’s review your readiness through this blog. I’m sure you’ll have an answer at the end of this blog. Before you start jumping into a business, understand yourself by knowing what you want with what you have. Here are five very important things you need to know before starting a business.
Know yourself by being honest with yourself. This is the first and most important step. Why? Because your “attitude determines your altitude” or at least how far you will go in life. If you were to tell me that you want to start a business just to get rich in three months, you know what I will tell you? Please stay with your current employer.
Your attitude towards starting a business should be ‘do you want a business that can pay your monthly bills consistently and set you financially free’? There is no such thing as an effortless and quick rich business. You must be willing to build it, mould it and transform it as it is part of you and yourself. You should also understand the difference between the reasons and goals of a business.
Instead of thinking of getting rich, set your focus on:
1. Know the reasons why you want to set up a business – By knowing these reasons, it will help you define clearly whether you are setting up a business for the right reasons or not. These reasons will be your greatest motivators to push you forward. It will also be the ‘elixir of encouragement’ that helps you press on when difficulties or challenges arise.
2. Know the goals you’d like to achieve with this business – Knowing your goals will help you map out the best business model, objective and strategy that best suits you in the next stage. These can be things like being location independent and having the luxury to work from anywhere in the world or even pursuing one of your own passions.
Define your strength: Know what you can do and what you are good at.
Besides getting people to hire you for a project and to perform a task, you need to have the required skillset to deliver. So, instead of venturing into something new and may require you to learn a new set of skills, start with something you already have been doing or something you are good at. It can be something simple that you have developed over the years with your own recipe for or techniques to constantly and consistently succeed in delivering quality. Splurge a bit of creativity and innovation and you have something unique!
Knowing your strengths gives you a big picture of what you can do or sell and what other deliverables clients will look for in hiring you. Like for me, I am a pretty good communicator and persuader. This skill helps me in closing deals without much of a problem. I excel in writing legal documents and brainstorming business and consultancy projects. Thus, one of my business services includes helping clients in drafting agreements for business investments and partnerships.
Who are the people or businesses who will require your area of expertise and services is another important thing to consider. You do not want to create a service or product which no one will use or buy. You want to fully make sure that there is a market for your business even if it is a popular or niche market.
Knowing who are your target audiences gives you a general idea of how you are going to price your services and packages. It will also give you an insight on the feasibility and potential of your business and regional markets you can expand into.
Next, how are you going to communicate or pitch your brand to your audiences? Branding or marketing plays another huge role in business. People need to be aware of your business presence before they even start considering to use your service.
It takes time to build a portfolio of clients and this is not an easy process. For starters, you will have to do the hard work of getting your brand out there, finding your clients and polishing the relationships. A simple way to start is through social media platforms and blogs that can go virally out there in our cyber-phubbing marketplace.
Here’s the million dollar question. What is the initial capital needed to start this business? You can be super ambitious and excited about this business idea of yours but do not let the dollar signs in your bank rob you off this excitement.
Yes, you do need money to operate a successful business. But do not let that lack of funds stop you from taking your first step. Plan and use your funds wisely. Invest in areas that is most crucial for your business. The first asset is a website that speaks your brand and services and does all the explanatory details of your product and services. You do not need to hire a developer. All you need is a domain name and platform like WordPress for you to do it all by yourself. Do you need an office space? If your business can operate online, then do it online. You save up on office or commercial rental.
So, do think out of the box and be flexible. Model your business according to your current financial appetite. All you need is a little tweak and you can be well on your way to earning your first business dollar!
Let me give you with my favourite word: F.A.I.L (First Attempt In Learning). If you never fail, you’ll never learn. When you never learn, you’ll never know!
The journey to starting a business is full of obstacles and difficulties. Although you are good at the things you are doing, new things will drop out of nowhere and keep you dumbfounded and lost.
A sad truth is a business journey is never smooth. Every failure is the first attempt in learning. Know that you’ll require strong perseverance to pull through whenever difficulties arises. If you don’t want to fail, you persevere and learn. Even though failures continue even after several attempts of trying, continue to find out the reasons why and improve on it. Think of failures as investments in lessons. That way you don’t take such things too personally. Business is all about a journey…a journey of knowledge and experiences. These knowledge will transform you into a better business owner and even a better person!
So, now that you’ve been briefed on the keystones to starting a business, do you still want to start you own business? If yes, then heartiest congratulations to you for taking your first step in becoming a self-made boss and to joining me in the free entrepreneur world.
Remember… Your first step to becoming a boss is also your First Attempt In Learning. Every entrepreneur out there went through the same process, just different in their own forms of challenges and rewards.
A free worksheet is prepared just for you to help you get a clear understanding of ‘why’ you want to start a business and also to help you analyse some of the important aspects of starting a business which I have touched on above.
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