What a great question. There are a number of questions to ask yourself in the first instance, these being:
- What topics rock your boat so to speak. Whilst many will say choose a niche (sector) you feel passionate about to start a business, others will tell you to check out the marketplace and see what is available and how you can potentially fill a gap or provide a better service/product in that niche (sector).
- So my erstwhile recommendation is start a list on what you are passionate about and then check out the marketplace and ask yourself: is this market already saturated; and, is there a gap I can either fill for my potential customers; or have I go an idea: if only this, that or the other were available it would make it easy for not only myself but for others.
- During the research process you may find you start with a niche your passionate about however like everything in internet land you may potentially come across an niche or idea that you hadn’t first considered which just may fit the bill to start a business in. However regardless do your research first, second and last.
Now that the initial questions are accounted for it is time to move on to some other relevant questions. These being:
- Do I want to start a business in the offline world or the online world or do I want a business that can be a part of both worlds? This is an important question to ask yourself because of the relevant costs associated. Offline world start ups are simply more expensive, there is no denying this. Whereas, online the start up costs can be manageable. However, please avoid the thinking that you can start online for zero upfront costs. Whilst the costs are considerably lower there are in fact costs factors you have to account for.
- So the next question is: how much capital do I have or I can obtain in order to start up my business? So again over to you. However your answer is a very important one to obtain. In other words, avoid going in all starry eyed thinking you’re going to become rich overnight or within a few months on a shoestring.
- What talents, skills and expertise do I currently hold in order to implement my business idea? Again, make a list or inventory of all the current talents, skills and expertise you currently hold, including any current interests i.e. trains you have that you may be able to (a) start a business in and (b) implement in your business.
- Then ask yourself, what talents, skills and expertise do I need to obtain in order to run my business. Again, running a business is totally different to say being currently employed in a business. Then undertake your research into how you can obtain over a period of time (so you don’t overwhelm yourself) the talents, skills and expertise you need in order to successfully run and manage your business.
- Another question is: what tasks am I willing to undertake and what tasks do I prefer to outsource (employ) someone to undertake on my behalf? Again, this is an important question to ask yourself. As the saying goes: be the general (CEO) in your business rather than the foot soldier. Now I grant you, in the first instance you may want to do as much as humanly possible yourself, however, if this is the case, avoid burning yourself out. At some stage you will want to expand and to do so you need to not only gain the skills of managing people effectively but also have the funds to do so, in order to grow your business. Or alternatively you may want more time to do what you enjoy most to have a life. A business does not run itself.
Now that you have these main questions dotted down, develop a plan. The best way to develop a plan is to start with the end result (i.e. you are able to sell your business) and work backwards, step by step. With each step ensure you attach a costing to it.
This way you are not only developing your overall business plan you are also developing your financial budget with relevant costings every step of the way. If you are going to project what income you receive, ensure you start small and work your way up. Income can be a fickle thing as customers come and customers go. So be as realistic as possible. You can project what income you would like to create however do this in a separate plan and then you can tick off each financial goal as you achieve them.
As you can see, starting a business is not simply: I have an idea, jump in and implement the idea and everything will be rosy. Be aware that many businesses including online businesses fail within the first year and many are not around at the 5 year mark.
So you want to be as realistic as possible and remember you are in business for the long haul rather than short term. Many other businesses and organisations also fold at the 10 year mark. They get through the initial humps and challenges however, whether it is a lack of finances, commitment, lack of continuing vision, lack of adaptability or whatever cannot get past the 10 year mark.
The last question in the initial stages you do have to ask yourself is: how much time am I going to allocate to bring my business to reality and sustain my business for the long haul? This is an important question to ask yourself. Why?
Because many start full of energy and then gradually over time peter out. So in order to sustain your business you need to invest the time and energy and commitment to be steady as you go. Be the tortoise rather than the hare. It was the tortoise in the children’s story that won the race by continually putting one step after another. Whereas the hare started out full of energy and ran out of puff half way and couldn’t finish the race.
Another analogy is be a long distance runner or marathon runner. Such runners have learnt to pace themselves evenly and consistently in order to finish the race.
Always keep your dream/vision in front of you and when things get tough as they more than likely will do at times, remember why you started the business in the first place.
If I have one more recommendation I would make it would be: rich people are savers rather than wasters. So as you start making money in your business ensure you save a portion, invest a portion back into your business and only then spend a portion on yourself and the lifestyle you want to lead.
You don’t want to find in 10 years time that you are not rich because you didn’t save a portion of your business income or find that you cannot expand because you did not reinvest a portion back into your business.
Unlike the telecommunications and energy companies who go cap in hand to a government regulator to increase prices to cover their infrastructure costs, as a business owner you do not have that luxury. So avoid the fancy cars and mansions in the first instance and ensure you save and invest. Then you will find you are truly rich.
To Your Continued Success
PS: If you want to know how to develop and bring a digital product to the online market place, then check out this free webinar. Webinar With John