Starting a Business - Some initial Thoughts and Guidelines
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To start your own business, can be a rewarding experience in more ways than one. There is, hopefully, the financial reward. And then, there is the satisfaction that you have created something, that is all your own. Your ideas turned into reality. It is almost instant satisfaction!
Before you even start to get to this point, you have to go through some "brainstorming sessions". Maybe, you only do these with yourself so that you know what direction to take.
Here, are a few basic thoughts, from which you can expand your own thought process. They are not exhaustive, but, instead a sort of items "jogging your memory". Catalyst, to put you on the right path. These are some of the thoughts, which we found useful.
Begin your thought process with some questions you should ask yourself, before you start the Business Planning Process.
You can obviously lengthen the list with questions that are relevant to your particular circumstances. But once you have a satisfactory answer to these questions, you can start to plan and to get from the stage of an idea to the structures of a real business by establishing a written business plan.
Just one last word, when you try to start something yourself: Stay clear of the more lunatic schemes for quick money that are offered on the Internet and on TV (the classic saying on one of these advertisements is :"......I like the lifestyle.....and the money is good too......!"). As a general rule, money cannot be earned whilst you sleep! If it sounds to be too good, it usually is.
Even, if you do not need the money, losing it will create stress and saw discord in your family relationships. It is certainly the one thing you do not need, when you have the pressure of looking for a new source of income through your business venture.
Apart from self satisfaction, the main purpose of a good business opportunity has to be to make money in an agreeable environment. In addition, when you have a limited amount of of money, you can afford to invest, the risk associated with losing the money has to be relatively low. Now, whether you want to start a business on the internet or elsewhere, is, for the planing part of it, quite immaterial. Both areas of business require a lot of thought, and a lot of work.
Many people starting a business have an idea or a skill they want to sell. Making themselves and their specialty known, either regionally or nationwide is often a difficult and complex issue. Using the internet has the advantage that you have an almost instant business presence. However, that does not mean that your internet site is known and that people can find it, or that it appears in search engines. Despite claims to the contrary, usually, by guys wanting to sell you their "search engine expertise", it takes weeks and sometimes months, before you appear on search engines like Google, dmoz.org or Yahoo.
But, if the site is there, and you have a domain name for your business and good website hosting, you can always point clients to your site, when you talk with them and, naturally mention your site on your letterheads, flyers and business cards.
If you are looking for a business idea, you are naturally in a different boat. Having completed the self assessment, before you start planning is even more important, than when you already know, what you will be doing. You have to find an activity that matches your strengths and uses your skills to the best of your advantage. In making suggestions and selecting opportunities, we did not look at whether the business was something "hip" or "trendy". Instead, we concentrated on whether there was a reasonable chance to succeed, provided you put effort into building on an idea and, in creating a genuine income producing business from that idea.
If you are searching for a business opportunity, you have to evaluate your chances. We determined, that the key criteriae in your selection should be:
There are a number of possibilities, but the ones that appear to be the most promising sectors to enter, are either in the "selling advice" category.
Whatever euphemism you use to describe your future activity, it basically consists of activities telling someone, how to do things. For these types of businesses, an Internet presence is probably a good idea.
Other, quite lucrative possibilities, are offered by activities that require some initial physical effort, such as cleaning services, or organizing jobs, people and events. These activities can be home based, and some require good people skills. Others, such as house and office cleaning or are not very glamorous, but require tenacity, single mindedness and the ability to do tedious jobs.
Your basic criteria in the selection of an activity, is to make a solid good income with the prospects of making a substantial income within a relatively short time.
The Problem with selling Advice (Consultancy)
Some of the problems with selling advice is that, you need good sales skills to get the assignment and once you have sold the solution to the client, you then require the skills to bring about the solutions.
Those are quite different skills and you have to sort out the mental process, that is required to do this. Many consulting businesses fail, because their initiator did not clearly understand these two distinct aspects. Often, consultants are not good at selling the solution to the client. Or, they get into conflict with the client about the solution to the problem.
As stated above, for many business ideas an Internet presence will greatly help, even though, it will take time for your site to be registered with the search engines. But, if the site is there, and you have a domain name for your business, you can always point clients to your site, when you talk with them and through your letterheads, flyers and business cards. The Internet platform also gives you much more space and time to explain your capabilities, than during a short interview or phone conversation. The costs of creating an internet presence are quite low and the process of telling someone, an outsider, what you will do for him, is most likely a help for your own understanding and a clarification of what is required.
Apart from selling physical goods through services like eBay., the Internet is well suited for selling
The last one has recently become slightly tainted, because your success is, to a large extent, a function of someone else's, namely the original product providers, effort.
A small number of the products sold through affiliate networks, are of doubtful quality and you could spend a lot of effort "flogging a dead horse". This means that you have to be especially careful in selecting the products you sell. Unless you have top level products, trying to be successful with an affiliate marketing and sales site will be very hard and at the very best, it will only provide you with a very small and highly volatile income.
Establishing a Business Plan
Once you have established and selected the kind of business that fits your skills, personality and your resources, you can proceed to establishing a business plan.
Maybe, you think that creating a business plan is peripheral, since you are not going to attempt to raise money from a bank or from an investors or involve outsiders. We, on the other hand, think it is important that you give some thought, as to what your resources are, and what you want to achieve. The creation of a business plan will help you crystallize your own thoughts about what, and how to do things.
Most businesses fail, because the people behind them work unplanned, are disorganized, not very disciplined, work sloppily, without attention to detail, and have little persistence. A business plan, the footprint for your business, gives you some format, within which you can work and measure your progress. It will be an incentive to succeed and might increase your persistence. But if you are still not convinced, start without it and don't spend money on a tool or framework for a business plan! Your chances of succeeding though might be severely reduced. We have provided our own business plan blue print for free, but there are many other providers, for which you obviously pay.
Before you go to the next step, you might want to read the opinions of some other people. We have, on purpose not considered some of the more ridiculous claims people make, when they want to sell the book (i.e. "How to start a Business in ten Days and become a Millionaire in two Weeks", etc.).
There are a large numbers of books available, the four below we have looked at and, we think, they provide some insight that should help you.
Just one small word of advise: Try not to follow suggestions from friends on the golf course, who have friends (or friends of friends, or uncles of friends of friends), who have been very successful selling "green colored widgets with built in GPS's" and have ended up living the life of billionaires in St. Barth's or the French Riviera!
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