You Don’t Need A Lot of Money to Start a Business
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to start most businesses. In fact, you can start many businesses out of your home, with just a few thousand dollars or less. I started most of my many businesses in my home or garage or apartment. And most businesses that I started required an investment under several thousand dollars. For a few of my businesses the initial investment to get started was under $1,000.
You Can Start Many Businesses Without Any Skills or Experience
You may think you need specialized skills or experience to start most businesses. But you really don’t. There are many businesses that you can learn almost overnight without any specialized education. I personally have run businesses in many fields that I had no experience in. For example, on every summer vacation from college I started one or more different businesses.
I had no experience in any of these businesses but I was able to successfully make money in all of them. My summer vacation businesses ranged from bicycle rentals, house painting, buying and selling used boats, to publishing tourist and street maps. The bottom line is that business is not as hard as you might think!
Choosing the Right Business Idea is the Most Important Decision to Make
What are your chances of succeeding in business? Well that really depends. One major factor will be the big first decision that you make: which business idea to pursue. Some business ideas are much better than others in that they are much easier to start and succeed in. While other business ideas are much higher risk. For example, full service restaurants and retail stores can be very risky, while local service businesses and offering consulting services can be much lower risk.
There are always exceptions. For example, while I find restaurants generally to be a high-risk endeavor, a well thought out sandwich shop could have a very high probability of succeeding (and with a lot less work and investment). Similarly, while a retail store selling brand name merchandise and competing directly with national chain stores might be very risky, a vintage clothing store might have a much higher chance of success.
What about online businesses? What are your chances of success with them? Creating your own ecommerce website or trying to make money from a blog can be very difficult. But creating some kind of service business online where you are not competing with large national or global players could be very successful.
Hard Work Is Important
Beyond choosing a great business idea what are they keys for business success? Hard work is an obvious ingredient. But there are other factors that can be just as important. Right up there in importance is making sure that your business is differentiated. This means that your business is different from competing businesses in a way that is important to your customers.
You Need to Be Different to Succeed
Differentiation is very important because it changes your business idea into a more specialized, less competitive business. Too many businesses think they are differentiated but does the difference really matter to the customer? Is the difference great enough that a potential customer may choose your business instead of competitor?
For example, let’s say you run a house painting business, you may differentiate from competitors by specializing in exterior work or interior work. Or maybe just new housing construction. Or commercial work. Or maybe you are highly experienced and charge a premium. Or maybe you are less experienced and are positioned as the low-cost alternative. There are endless ways that you can position your business in a way that you are not directly competing against all of the other companies in your space.
Hold On to Your Full-time Job – At First
How much time will it take to start a new business? Will you have to quit your day job? You can start a business part-time and often you can hold onto your 9-5 job. Furthermore, part-time businesses typically require less financial investment and less specialized experience or education.
In fact, I recommend that even if you are planning on working on your new business full-time at some point, that if possible you start it part-time and hold onto your day job until you develop some momentum. There are plenty of great businesses that you can start part-time. Some part-time businesses are so easy to start that you could have them up and running in just one or two days.
What Are the First Steps to Start Your Own Business?
So, what’s the first step in getting going in starting a business? I would suggest that you start with a list of business ideas and then sort through as many as possible to decide which are the few businesses you might be most interested in. Then I would do another sort as to which businesses you think you might have a reasonable chance of success at.
Next I would go out and research those business ideas very carefully before deciding which one to pursue. I would get to know existing competitors. I would try to talk to potential customers. I would think about what it would be like to compete in that field.
Then I would develop a business plan. Remember a venture capitalist isn’t going to invest a penny in a business until they have seen a comprehensive business plan. So, shouldn’t you hold yourself to the same standard before you put your own money into a single business idea? Yes, you should! So, develop your plan carefully including a realistic financial projection.
As you work on your business plan, pay careful attention to what are the customer benefits of your product or service: what are customers really interested in? Who are the competitors? How can you offer a different twist on your product or service so that you are not competing head to head with existing players? How can you make your offering so compelling that you can break into an existing market, by stealing market share or customers away from the established companies?
As you do your analysis do not stay wedded to your idea. Maybe you will decide that the marketplace you are entering is highly attractive but the product or service you are offering may have to be altered to be a strong, new competitor to existing products. Or you just may decide that the market is too competitive, too hard to make money at and that you are better off exploring an entirely new business idea. Often the most important business decision is deciding what business idea not to pursue. The great thing is that there are always plenty of other viable businesses out there that you could start.