Creating and sustaining your own business is still the surest way to wealth. It is by far the more difficult route to take, but many have succeeded. There is a fallacy mindset that you need money in order to start a business. The purpose of this article is to challenge that mindset. Possessing the right knowledge and having perseverance and dedication is more important. Being prepared to fail a few times is also vital to your ultimate success.
- ‘Grow’ some passion and determination. Determination is the separating factor. Passion drives determination. Find some areas you are passionate about and grow your skills in those areas through studies, training courses and the practical application of knowledge and skill. Find ways to make money out of your passion rather than resorting to making the niche that makes you money your passion.
- Be prepared to reinvent yourself. Flexibility is also a great asset as you may have to ‘reinvent’ yourself a few times to find the right slant to tackle the niche you have chosen to operate in. Be prepared to give up one niche for another in the short term, moving with the times and changes in the economic climate and consumer demand.
- Conduct a few tests run on your ideas to evolve them. Preparation and planning is vital before setting out on any venture. Business plans are evolving documents. Draft one and then ignore it for one year. Compare the practical rolling out of your business venture with your original business plan, and then refine the plan again. Work on this at least once a year going forward. Favor the least expensive idea over the cost-heavy one.
- Start your business whilst still employed. 90% of entrepreneurs started off as employees in some or another capacity prior to venturing out on their own. Firstly, never sign an employment contract containing a restraint of trade. Then, once you have adequate knowledge and experience, the ideal is to make the transition from a full time employee to a consultant, still in the same industry or even better, within the same Company. Slowly set yourself free from your familiar working environment in this manner. This allows you a soft landing, which is good for your mind and emotions and also gives you opportunity to have more flexibility of time in order to grow business opportunities and test business ideas without impacting your pocket too adversely within the first vital year of trade.
- Find opportunities to build skills you require to succeed in the area you intend operating in, with as little cost as possible. Find ways to make lucrative deals with training institutions or Companies to have them pay for your training in exchange for services rendered. We live in a results-driven society.
- Remember that the customer is most important. Always understand what the customer wants. Derive the best way to satisfy those wants. The main focus of any business is customer satisfaction. (secondary focus should then be quality, cost/profit, appearance, function of product/service, etc etc…)
- Let your creativity replace your money. Get back to basics. Leverage and minimize the need for cash and aggressively increase sales activity through developing and implementing creative ideas and concepts. Always think big. Take massive action towards your goals and persist until you succeed.
- Remember you are your best employee. Keep it small and cost free in the beginning. Be loathe and hesitant to employ people, unless you are guaranteed of their return on investment. If this is a gray area, rather don’t do it. Salaries are usually the greatest management expense in any business. You want to keep these costs as low as possible, in the beginning and throughout the life cycle of your business.
- Involve your family in your business (wife, husband and children). Give them joined ownership of the success of your business. Many large Corporations have been in family generations for years. At the very least, entrepreneurs who started these great Companies have, in their children, totally dedicated Company leaders who can be entrusted with anything. Make sure your family agrees what you are planning to do. This is because you will use the family resources, the time, the money, the health, the nerves. After becoming the boss in your business you may soon become bossy in your family too. To avoid jeopardizing your family-life, discuss the business rules with your family and stick to the agreed plans. After all it still may be fun to run a family business, but things can go terribly bad, if you divorce yourself from your family-life.
- Try to avoid Partnerships. Few were made in heaven. Most were born in hell. Rather make people ‘partners’ in various aspects, but never sign anything on a dotted line in this regard. Be careful when using the term ‘partner’ with business associates, as the legal concept of promissory stoppers (the spoken word superseding a written contract) might bite you at a later stage, especially if you start making money.
- If you have a home, this is where your first office has to be. Write off a part of your home to ‘rental’ in your books, and pay this money into your bond, if you have one. The reason for suggesting this is obvious.
- Build your ability to barter. When all else fails, negotiate. This is often the dividing line between a full time employee of a Company and an entrepreneur. In some countries, you have to negotiate a price for virtually anything. Try visiting one of those countries for a while to get some fun practice in. This is a skill you need to build as it requires strategic know-how and confidence. Take risks (but protect your legal rights) and you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
- Give discounts and offer better value for money than competitors. Money talks. Consumers want value for money and abhor the idea of being ‘ripped off’. Make good on your promises and never be tempted to engage in false advertising as it will ruin you and your business’ reputation in no time. Ensure your profit margins are protected when deciding on this aspect.
- Make up for the absence of money with hard work. If you enjoy what you do, investing long hours in your business will often feel like ‘fun’ and you will do it willingly. If you are forced to do something you don’t enjoy too much to bring in income (only allow this for short term spurts) and are required to spend excess time doing it; ensure you carefully manage your stress levels. You may experience burnout before you start making real money or get anywhere in the ventures you are truly passionate about. This is a sure path back to becoming a paid employee all over again.
- Know your rights. Having sound knowledge of Commercial Law, especially the Law of Contract and your Countries’ Legislative requirements in as far as business owners are concerned is important to succeed as an entrepreneur. Seeking Legal Counsel for every small aspect concerning the law will bankrupt you in no time. Rather build this skill and knowledge as far as you can before you begin forking out money to pay for it.
- Look after your physical, mental and emotional state. If you lose your health, you lose it all. A healthy body, mind and soul (emotions included) are vital to success as a business owner. Try and get some income protector insurance in place as a self-employed person cannot afford to lose income to this possibility. Your gym fee is an important monthly expense and don’t be tempted to compromise on that when finances become tight. Keep grounded in your faith as you will need strength of spirit to survive the ‘jungle’ out there.
- Get the balance right. Live life within balance. Even when you are starting out a business without a cent in the bank. Losing your balance and perspective in life will make you poorer in the long run and is never a risk worth taking. Never miss a night’s sleep. Additionally, it is a bad idea to be taking drugs to aid your performance ability or to meddle with your regular healthy eating and exercise plans. This will break you down and cause you to make irrational, emotional decisions which are never a good thing in business.
- Try and avoid borrowing money, wherever possible. Cash is King. Keep it that way. If you don’t have money, don’t spend it and don’t take on large operating expenses ‘in faith’ at any stage.
- Try and avoid committing to long term contracts, like leases or fixed employment contracts for employees in the beginning. As you are uncertain as to how things will pan out in the first year of operating in particular (the experimentation phase), making major commitments of this nature is plain foolishness. Just don’t do it.
- Don’t flippantly share your business ideas with others. Ever had a fantastic business idea stolen? If you have, you will unlikely be so foolish again. The betrayal element could destroy your confidence entirely. Prevention is better than cure in this instance.
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