You need much more than a dream and fire in your belly to succeed in starting and running your own business. So how does one find the right business idea to go with their vision of entrepreneurial success? Which small business ideas will work for you; and most importantly which are the ones to avoid?
The secret to finding the right business idea is in following a well-understood process that’ll help you not only crystallise the vision for your venture, but also ensure that the venture you embark upon ends in success. Let’s dive in.
Just as athletes compete in specific games, business start-ups must also carefully select their niche. An Olympic runner has a better chance of winning gold on the track, as opposed to the wrestling ring. In the same vein, to be a successful entrepreneur, you must first choose the right business.
- Take an inventory: What skills and abilities do you pride yourself on? What do you love doing best? What inspires you? What business do you understand really well, and what don’t you understand so well?
- Do your research: With your short-list in hand, start researching the areas that you are interested in, and collect as much information as possible about:
- The potential (current and future business opportunities)
- The risks (could you fail – what are the chances)
- The rewards (earnings, personal satisfaction, societal benefits)
Outreach: One very important aspect about seeking business ideas for you to consider, is outreach efforts. Do not hesitate to reach out to government agencies, professional bodies and other industry support groups to get the advice or expertise you need. You might even benefit from assistance to ensure your business has a global reach.
- Make your choice: Take a hard look at what you’ve assembled so far, and only then decide what sort of a business you should start up, or what type of entrepreneurial undertaking you should embark upon. Some choices may include:
- Accounting services for small businesses
- Tax planning and preparation for individuals and businesses
- Business research and consulting for start-ups (you will learn a lot about this during your own research!)
- Franchise opportunities
- Family store/retail outlet
- Home Inspection
- City-wide/regional courier, transportation or delivery business
- Website development/internet consulting
The choices you make, for the small business or entrepreneurial start-up you wish to pursue, must be something that you not only have a passion for, but that you can understand and feel comfortable engaging in.
You are now game ready!
THE GAME PLAN
The next step in assuring entrepreneurial success is to have a game plan for success. Regardless of what small business you intend to start up, you must have a good game plan BEFORE you start the business:
- Bulletproof Business Plan: Preparing a comprehensive Business Plan is the first step to laying out your roadmap to success. There are many online resources to help you build your business Once built, it may be advisable to run it by a professional accountant.
- Effective Marketing Plan: Whether your start-up is a service business, a manufacturing entity or a distribution operation; in order to survive and thrive, you need to be able to market and sell your services effectively. You should create your marketing plan cautiously, ensuring it is grounded in reality.
- Ensure you have financing in place: Whether you are financing the venture yourself, through funds borrowed from friends and family, or getting a line-of-credit from a financial institution; ensure your funding is in place before you start spending it. Alternately, there may be government grants that you start-up venture might qualify for.
You will find plenty of online resources to help you with your game plan. Your game plan toolbox should also include other plans, such as a Staffing Plan (to ensure you have the right people to help you succeed) and, probably a Succession Plan (to hand your business over to your successor).
However, even the best planned start-ups are prone to failure, so you MUST have an Exit Plan in place. In the event that your new venture isn’t delivering what you were hoping it would, you need to recognise the signs early, and plan for an orderly exit from the business.
LEARNING THE BASICS
Even if you are an overseas entrepreneur-to-be, the process described above will likely equally apply to your local environment. You may have to change your approach slightly, such as seeking local resources or outreach opportunities; but the basic building blocks still stand.
While intuition, gut feelings and passion are great to have when starting up a small business, an entrepreneur that has formally learned the basics of planning, organising and running a business has a much better chance of eventual success. That’s because many of the basic skills discussed above, such as:
- Business Planning
- Understanding the economic landscape
- Cost benefits analysis
- Risk assessment
- Business and Marketing strategy
- …and much more
are best learned in a formal educational setting, rather than from trial and error. Many professional business and finance degrees also include field work, research projects, networking events and internships, which equip students with real-life skills needed to succeed in real-world business situations.
Getting a business management degree, such as a Bachelors degree or a Masters in Business Administration (BBA/MBA); or even studies in Accounting will help lay the foundations needed for you to embark on your entrepreneurial journey.