This is part four in our series on assessing whether starting a small business is right for you.
Now that you’ve got some business ideas down on paper, it’s time to start putting those ideas together to form a more solid framework. This is akin to putting all these ideas into a blender and mixing them all together to find out what the best combination is.
Here are some ways you can solidify your ideas and also some essential advice on getting your business started.
1. Take a walk down the aisles of your local pharmacy, hardware store or toy store (which, for many people, will be the same store) and see which products could be combined to make a new product. Also, look at various services and try to think how you could revise their business model to make it better for customers.
2. Run your ideas by friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues and other people you know. This comes with a caveat, though. Discussing your idea openly with people might lead to someone stealing it (perhaps not the person you directly told, but another person they, in turn, discuss it with). You could try having them sign a non-disclosure agreement, or just stick to people who you trust and who don’t have entrepreneurial ambitions.
3. This is the point where you should have a solid idea before you go any further. You need to know what your business is going to be. Think of this as the point of no return. Once you’ve solidified an idea and you’ve bounced it off people and it still has merit, you should commit to it and try to make it a reality.
4. Once you’ve decided to go for it, you’ll need to realize that a lot of people will try to dissuade you from doing it. Some of them will tell you they just have your best interests at heart, and that might even be true. However, you must not let these people talk you out of it. Some will envy your courage and others will resent your courage because they themselves don’t have what it takes to start a business. Either way, you have to shut them out (their discouragement, at least) so you won’t succumb to it and give up before you even get started.
5. By far, the most common warning people will give you is about the risk involved in starting a business. However, what you’re attempting to do isn’t a blind, foolish risk. What you’re doing is taking a calculated risk, which is different. As long as you’re prepared and you acknowledge the risk is there, get help when you need it and never stop learning, you will drastically reduce that risk.
6. Before you take that risk, though, you should ask yourself what exactly you are risking. You need to assess the risk before you take it. What will you be losing if your business idea doesn’t work? You shouldn’t risk what you cannot afford to lose, like your home, your family or your personal health. Ask yourself if you’ll be worse off than you are now if your business idea doesn’t work. If you’re only in a position to lose some time, energy and money, it will likely be worth the risk. Just remember that if your business fails, you will need to rebound from that.
7. You’ll need a group of advisors from a wide variety of both personal and business backgrounds to help guide you. Again, choose carefully and choose only those you trust.
8. The most important trait you can have as an entrepreneur is perseverance. When launching a business, you will be faced with “no” after “no” after “no.” But, you have to keep trying because eventually you will get a “yes.”
Now that you have a solid idea and are ready to run with it (although it’s suggested you do the crawl-walk-run system), you will still have approximately a ton of homework and research to do. The key word there is “do.” Don’t sit back and take time off to congratulate yourself over coming up with an idea and don’t put that idea off until next year and then next year. Once you’ve got an idea solidified, it’s time to actually start. The easy part is now over.
Next week, we’ll look at how to take the idea and turn it into reality.[Main photo courtesy of Karen on Flickr]