So you have a great idea. You might even have a mentor to help walk you through the whole process of starting up a business. But when is the right time to start one?
If there is one thing that I have learned from my mentors and from reading up on small business start ups, it is that you should always have a back up plan. Of course, no one plans to fail but you have to open yourself up to the possibility of things not going exactly the way you should. It is not negative thinking, it is being realistic. And if you consider those possibilities, you can plan for them and solve them.
So what kinds of back up plans can you lay down? One thing â€“ start a business while you are still employed. Why am I saying this? Think about it, how long can an average person live without money? I donâ€™t know about you but I wouldnâ€™t last a week. And if you start a business, you can bet that you have to live off with no earnings from your business for a while. If you have no other source of income, how are you going to live?
If you have a job, on the other hand, you will at least have a steady stream of income coming in. Never mind that it might not be that much, but at least you will have something to live on. Makes sense?
Even before you do anything else as you start to plan your business, you have to establish one very important thing: what are you going to sell?
Businesses exist for one main thing. No matter how you look at it, businesses are set up to make money and in order to make money, you have to have something to sell. Sell is a very generic term and it can mean that you will be actually selling a product or providing a service. So as you embark on your journey to become a business man, you should know clearly and exactly what that product or service is.
For some people, this matter is not difficult at all. This happens when a person has the necessary knowledge or expertise in a certain field. In the natural progression of events, this person would want to start a business in his field of expertise.
For others, they start a business because they spot a gap in the market â€“ they recognize a need and they want to fill that need. The area may not be their field of expertise but that only means that they have a lot to learn.
So this is where you start â€“ what will your business be about? If you are thinking of starting up a small business, it is not enough that you want to start one. It has to be clear as to why you are starting one and what your main product or service will be. Once you have established this, you can then move on to other steps.
Starting up a business – whether it be small, medium-sized, or big â€“ will certainly take time and money. You know the old saying, â€œyou need to spend money to make money.â€ If you are in the process of starting up your own business, you just might be worried about the costs involved. Do not let that get you down, however. There are many ways by which you can cut the costs to the bare minimum without sacrificing your business.
Why not consider operating from home?
For small business operations, home-based businesses are the rage today. Not only is it more convenient for you, it also keeps the operating costs down. One of the biggest overhead costs for businesses is the rent. If you run your small business from your home, then you get rid of this big expense.
Start an online business.
Take your home-based business one step further â€“ why not go online and carry out your business operations online? How does this benefit you in terms of cost? You do not even need a large home to do this. You can practically live in a closet and have a virtual office from where you do marketing, sales, and everything in between.
Focusing on what you do best â€“ the core of your business â€“ is a very good idea. This way, you can throw all your energy and efforts into making money. Peripheral activities such as web site creation can be outsourced for a small price. Do not waste your time and effort â€“ they translate to money â€“ on things that you do not know much about.
We took a look at the financial aspect of a business plan in the previous post. Now letâ€™s take a look at another â€“ the lifestyle that you can expect to live when your business is up and running. I have friends, a couple actually, who are thinking of starting a small corner store. One spouse has a day job while the other stays at home. It would be perfect for the one staying at home to mind the store. However, they do have to consider certain changes that they might have to undergo in terms of lifestyle.
For example, they might need to move from their current apartment since the space that they want to rent has adequate living space in the back. This would mean savings on their rent. Another thing that they have to consider is having to wake up early and stay up late in order to mind the store. They also like going on vacations several times a year â€“ this might have to change.
This is a specific example of how starting a small business can have a change in lifestyle. Here are some questions, again courtesy of Entrepreneur Magazine, that you can consider:
1. Where are you going to live?
2. What kind of work are you going to be doing?
3. How many hours will you be working?
4. Will you be able to take vacations?
5. What happens if you get sick?
6. Will you earn enough to maintain your lifestyle?
7. Does your family understand and agree with the sacrifices you envision?
If you think that you can cope with the changes, then go for it!
Coming up with a business plan is not something to be taken lightly. Though it may come as easy as 1-2-3 to other people, not everyone has that talent. If you are thinking of starting your own business, I think that there are two aspects that you should look deeply into. One is the financial aspect and the other is the lifestyle aspect.
Let us look into the financial aspect first. Naturally, if you want to run a business, you have to make sure that it will fly. A business exists to make money. You have to make sure that you can live off your business in the long run. Entrepreneur Magazine offers some helpful guide questions:
1. What initial investment will the business require?
2. How much control are you willing to relinquish to investors?
3. When will the business turn a profit?
4. When can investors, including you, expect a return on their money?
5. What are the projected profits of the business over time?
6. Will you be able to devote yourself full time to the business, financially?
7. What kind of salary or profit distribution can you expect to take home?
8. What are the chances the business will fail?
9. What will happen if it does?
If you are not looking for investors â€“ that is, if you have enough money on your own to start a business, then you can skip some of the questions above. The important thing is that you can somehow project what will happen to your business in terms of earning or failing.
In the next post, let us look at the lifestyle considerations.
Economic times are really starting to pull people down, donâ€™t you think? What with the news that big companies like AIG and Lehmann declaring bankruptcy, people are starting to feel really apprehensive about what the future holds. If big companies like them are going under, what about the average person?
More so, our salaries are not really going up even as the prices of most everything continue to shoot up. Have you gone to the grocery store lately? Isnâ€™t it that your money buys less than it used to do? Perhaps it is time to find an additional source of income?
If you are thinking about this â€“ and if you are like many people, you probably are â€“ then there is one thing that you should do before anything else. That is, you have to PLAN YOUR PLAN.
Any business, in order to succeed, has to undergo extensive planning. One has to have a clear plan as to how to achieve his goals. But even before you work on your planning, you have to sit down and think about how you will structure your plan. Entrepreneur magazine shares:
Believe it or not, part of planning your plan is planning what you’ll do with it. No, we haven’t gone crazy–at least not yet. A business plan can be used for several things, from monitoring your company’s progress toward goals to enticing key employees to join your firm. Deciding how you intend to use yours is an important part of preparing to write it.
Indeed, starting up your business is not to be taken lightly. You have to make sure that you have all your bases are covered in order to ensure success as much as possible.
In the next few weeks, let us look more into how to start up your own business.
Are you feeling the pressure of a crowded niche? Do you think that you should move on to another niche? That may be a solution but if you really feel that your current niche is important to you, then you do not have to leave it. In fact, we talked about two things that could help you succeed in a crowded niche. Here are some other things that you can consider on your way to success.
Take advantage of the number of blogs in your niche
One of the problems that any niche blogger may have is to find his target audience. This is especially true for those who are in a sparsely populated niche. How do you find those people who are interested in your topic? In a crowded niche, you can let other blogs guide you. The chances are that the older blogs have already found the people who are interested in your topic. The more you participate in forums and comment in these blogs, the more you expose your own blog to the people who you want to be your readers. So do not despair because there are many other blogs in your niche. Instead, take advantage of that fact!
Thinking along the same lines, you can actually learn a lot from those established blogs in your niche. Do not see them as merely competition but see them as your guideposts. Study those blogs and find out what makes them successful. In this manner, you can also pattern your approach from them.
It is all a matter of perspective, really. Just because a niche is crowded does not mean that you cannot succeed in it.
Photo courtesy of wishymom
One of the first things that we talked about when we started this series on niche blogging is how to asses if a niche is already crowded. The idea was to choose a niche that is not too saturated. However, it does not mean that you should not enter a niche if it is already crowded. If you think that that niche is what you are best at, then by all means, create a niche blog focusing on that topic! Although admittedly, it could be more difficult to create a place for your blog because of the competition, there is still a chance for you to create a name for yourself.
One of the first things that you have to remember in order to succeed in a crowded niche is to establish connections. A crowded niche means a LOT of bloggers talking about your topic. This means that there are other bloggers out there who could benefit from you and vice versa. As such, making connections is one of the most important things that you could do to help establish your niche blog despite a crowded niche.
Another important consideration is for you to create a unique style and stand. In a crowded niche, this would be a little bit more difficult. With so many bloggers writing about the same topic, you just might run out of angles to present the topic. Then again, I think that combining your topic with your different ideas and points of view can always attract a specific audience. Pour all your energy into making your posts unique and you will have better chances of attracting readers.
(to be continued)
Photo courtesy e-chan