Starting a Business Right for You?

A friend once asked me for some advice on starting one’s own business.  I suppose some feel that in this current environment, going one’s own way seems both opportunistic and attractive.  Having said that; I am not terribly convinced that getting in one’s own business because of the economy or lack of jobs is the right motivation.

And motivation is crucial.  Putting in 40 hours or 50 hours a week, working for someone else can be grueling.  The forced, paid or unpaid, overtime, the crazy demands of the boss, and unrealistic goals of the company may be driving you nuts.  Wait until you work for yourself, then nuts might end up looking not too bad.

There is a fine line between owning a business and the business owning you.  The former is great.  The latter will be more brutal than anything you can imagine.  For time, I ran a little, boutique shop.  Unlike “Field of Dreams,” just building it does not mean they will come.  In fact, it could quite the opposite.

No business, no cash flow, and a whole lot of sunken, capital cost.  The breakeven point, not to mention enough cash to pay the rent, never seemed so far off.  Having one’s own business means the worst case scenario is any day away.

That is why motivation is so crucial.  If the motivation to start a business is grounded on the premise, “well, can’t get job, might as well start my own business…,” the venture could turn out quite ugly.  The hard days require a lot of grit and desire.

Businesses succeed because the captain at the helm has a deep and abiding belief in what she wants to do, not because the external, economic conditions.  In good times and bad, good ideas executed well succeed. 

So, as you consider whether to start your own business, do so without regard to how bad the economy is or whether you can get a job or not.  If you believe the ownership is the way to go, the following is basic guideline to consider:

  • Your Idea – Is it good?
    • Market research
    • Competitive Analysis
    • SWOT – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat
  • Your Idea – Is it doable?
    • Marketing Plan
    • Operational Plan
    • Logistics Plan
    • Distribution Plan
  • Your Idea – Can it be profitable?
    • Project Sales (Revenue)
    • Start-up cost
    • Profit Loss Statement
    • Projected Cash Flow
    • Balance Sheet 

It has been a while since I last wrote a business plan.  Still, being able to address those issues should help flesh out whether a business is doable or not.  If you seek to raise money with your plan, then after you write it, pull out the key points from each area and put together an executive summary.  An executive summary is a 2 to 3 page synopsis of what is in the business plan.  Hence, it must be written last.

By the way, as you develop your business plan, write it for yourself.  Should you start, then this business plan becomes your operational and administrative procedures manual.  It falls under the saying, “plan your work, work your plan,” or in this case, “plan your business, work your plan and build your business.”

Of course getting started is only as complicated or straight forward as you want it to be.  The business plan need not be a 200 page Opus Magnum.  There are plenty of stories of successful people who wrote their plan on the back of paper napkin, or so I have heard.  The last thing you want is to fall victim to, “paralysis by analysis.”

Regardless of the economic times or your job situation, you just need to think through what you want before acting.

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