“Darn….I am fed up with my boss, and there are no jobs in this stagnant economy! I’ve always dreamt of doing something of my own, and maybe that time is now!”
Does this sound like you?
Starting a small business is something that perhaps most of us dream about. After all, what’s not to love about being the boss or not having a 9 to 6 routine.
But, are you really ready to dive in?
One of my favorite shows on TV is the SharkTank, where small business owners pitch their products/ services/ and new business ideas to established business moguls such as Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban. As per Ivana Taylor, founder of DIYMarketers, the entrepreneurs who appear on the show Shark Tank are perfect examples of entrepreneurs who “are so driven by the need to solve a problem that they devote their life and savings. They can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Starting a small business will require time and energy, and all the positive attitude, and creativity you can muster. The answer as to when is the right time to start a small business, is akin to asking someone, “Whom should I marry?” The decision of when to begin has to be made by you.
However, as with evaluating whether or not you ready for marriage, you have to assess some do’s and don’t before deciding to become an entrepreneur. Before you start your business, spend considerable time scoping the market opportunity, identifying what makes your business idea unique, and whether you have enough savings to support yourself for at least two years without a paycheck.
Answering the following questions will help you to arrive at a decision if ‘now’ is the time to start a small business from home.
1. Are you passionate about what your business idea? At the very least, is the business idea something that you are really interested in starting? Do you believe that this is something you will enjoy or be good at?
2. Do you have the experience, skills, or professional network to succeed in the marketplace? Has your existing profession prepared you for success in the industry you plan to start a business? Have you spent considerable time reading up on the industry and the opportunities it presents?
3. Can you commit the money and time needed for the venture? Do you have access to the funds to get started? ( e.g. for procuring the raw material, manufacturing the product through an off-site business partner, or maintaining a minimum level of inventory to start with).
4. What customer problem are you going to solve? Or how will you be different from the competition? You don’t necessarily have to start something groundbreaking, but you do need to offer a real value for your customers, be it pricing, quality, or overall customer experience.
5. Have you tested your business idea, product or service? For instance, you could have helped a friend with a business problem and discovered that you have a marketable skill. Maybe you designed something that your friends appreciated. If you aren’t convinced, it may be a good idea to hold your day job as you launch your business on a small scale to test the waters.
6. Have you done your preliminary research on demand ( especially local demand if you plan to sell a product), customer needs, suppliers, pricing, and local competition/ business trends?
7. How good are you at taking decisions alone? Because you will most likely be working alone in the initial phase you must be decisive on what you need to focus on at any point in time.
8. Do you have the ability to persuade people? For instance, your skills of persuasion will come in handy when negotiating the price with a customer, or cost with a supplier. You may need to persuade an old friend to work with you on the project.
9. Do you enjoy multitasking and working towards goals? As the sole business owner, you must be a highly organized person to ensure that you focus on every aspect of your business.
10. Are you comfortable working in an unstructured environment, where every day will present its unique set of challenges? Are you an eager learner and someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone?
It may not be the best time to give up your steady job and start a small business if you have a new baby in the family or if you have a just bought a home on a mortgage. Don’t start a business because you are fed up with your current company and boss; maybe what you need is a new job. And don’t start a business unless you feel genuinely excited and convinced that you have a viable business idea.
On the other hand, as you contemplate starting a small business, there will always be ‘ifs and buts’. The competition will always seem tough, and despite all the market research, there are no guarantees of success. If you are looking for the perfect time and opportunity to start your small business from home, you will be left waiting and wanting.
Starting your small business could be the most rewarding venture of your life; but before you make a start ensure that you have the resources, support, the risk appetite, and the determination to persevere.