There are a million articles on the Internet about starting businesses. That’s because everyone wants to start a business, obviously. Writers and business gurus like Tim Ferris have made sure of that. However, there’s a decidedly peculiar dichotomy in common thought, where industry leaders like Richard Branson and Alan Sugar are looked on and treated in a somewhat messianic and cult-like way, all the while in the background, there’s the ever reassuring voice that we’re all capable of such success, and that it’s really very simple.
The fact is, it all just comes down to hard work. So ignore the rest of the world, and focus all your energies on developing and creating the kind of business that not only profits, but that you can be proud of.
So what experience is required to start a business? Well, technically, with the advent of internet technology and the general freedom and easily accessible range of information out there, you don’t need any experience. You could be a 16-year-old kid, just dropped out of school and start a successful business. There’s a reason every sixteen year old doesn’t do that. Experience doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure makes it come easer. It opens the door. Working in variety of industries and markets linked or completely alien to your business idea is the best way to start. You need to know the ins and outs of various successful businesses and companies, what works and what doesn’t. Where gaps need filling, and where needs are not being met. In short, you need the degree of insight that only intimate experience with an industry can provide. So if you are a sixteen year old, work. Work in lots of different roles and in lots of different industries. Relax, your business will come to you. For the rest of us, utilise your experience.
2. Find Your Niche
As I’ve said before, a great business plan and idea doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, truly revolutionary products, services and ideas are infinitely harder to sell, as they’re alien to people. Ideas that are close to home, that fill a need, that do things cheaper, and make lives easier are the goals. You need an idea like that, and if you’ve got industry experience, there’s no reason why you won’t come up with one. Don’t wait around for your idea to hit you either. Ponder and brainstorm, scribble down idiotic ideas in the meantime, all till you reach the big one, the one you can run with.
3. Be Sensible
If there’s one thing I will endlessly advise against, it’s quitting your day job for a new business. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Every, it’s a rookie mistake. If you kick away your main income source for an as-of-yet unproven fledgling business, it will increase the businesses chance of failure, due simply down to new constraints on money. If you’re desperate to quit your awful day job that you despise, then make sure you have an absolute minimum of three months wage saved up in the bank. Make that six or twelve if you have a mortgage or family.
4. Investment & Loans
If you have a great idea and decent credit you can start looking at investment and loans. Getting some starting capital can make it all go much smoother in the beginning. However, make sure you’re constantly examining the small print, and do your due diligence and research on any money you take. Investment and loans can be an absolute minefield, so be very careful. If you’re starting out as a sole trader, you assume complete liability, so don’t work yourself into complete bankruptcy through dodgy loans and bad luck, as you’ll only have yourself to blame now you’ve read this.
5. Get Into The Nitty Gritty
Now you’ve got everything else sorted, it’s time to start really digging into the details. Practicalities like where you’ll be based, allocating funding, increasing your research, making contacts and the like. Basically, do everything you can do prior to actually starting the business.
Persevere, always! Failure is likely. For everyone. Even people that everyone cites as real heroes and visionaries of business (think Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and similar individuals) have known failure. The recurring, cliché and trite, response is that you just need to keep going. Keeping constantly trying, while scientifically adjusting and tweaking your efforts is a road to success. It might not be quick, but it’ll happen. Treat both success and failure as the imposters they are, and you’ll be a success.