Starting A Business: Still Crazy After All These Years?

by: September 16, 2013

When I decided to start my first business many years ago, I can clearly remember several people who I worked with (in a large corporate) telling me that I was crazy, and that I’d be knocking on the door asking for my job back in 6 months’ time.  Roll forwards several years and still in business, many people told me how they thought I must have been brave to start my own business.

So which is right: ‘crazy’ or ‘brave’?
Well, in my opinion,  if you’re prepared to work extremely hard, make your own decisions, listen and respond to your customers, be willing to  learn and you can find the right opportunity then it’s crazy NOT to start your own business.  If you don’t, you’ll always be working for someone else, someone else who tells you what hours you work, how much you get paid, when you can take holiday, what work you are to do, etc.  If you’re the right type of person, and it’s something you really want to do, life is too short not to grab the opportunity when it presents itself, so take the plunge and go for it.
To be completely honest it’s not that brave either. If you’re sensible, there are straightforward steps you can take to mitigate the risk. Most businesses don’t need hundreds of £000s to start, and many costs can be made to be variable (i.e. you only incur them when you’ve got sales, as a percentage of sales income). Even the technology you need is now Pay As You Go thanks to Cloud computing. Many businesses can be started and ‘tested’ without giving up the day job, until such time as you are confident it’s going to work. 

Here’s some ways you can mitigate the risk.  It’s not an exhaustive list, and any entrepreneur worth his or her salt will be able to add to this list to suit their own particular circumstances.

  • Honestly evaluate the market for your product or service.  Is the opportunity real and how easy will it be to prove the business model?
  • Who are your competitors? If there are none, you’ve either hit upon an amazing opportunity that no-one has yet thought about, or it’s worrying as it might mean that there isn’t a significant market for what you’re going to be selling. How are you going to compete against them, what are your USP’s and how are you going to generate business?
  • Work out a realistic business plan, keeping sales significantly less that you might hope for and make sure the model still works.
  • Challenge all the costs you think you will need in your business in the early stages.  Think like a small business owner, not like a manager in someone else’s business.  If you need to incur the cost, can you make it variable in some way? For example can you work from home instead of renting premises, can you do a deal with someone you know who has their own office that allows you to work from their premises and pay them rent as a percentage of sales you achieve? Think out of the box.
  • How much income do you need to live on for the first 6 or 12 months? Does your partner’s income cover outgoing costs or have you got savings you can use or a bank loan you can safely take? What other costs will you incur that you have not anticipated? If you sell nothing, and decide to go back to the employed world in a year’s time, how much will it have cost you?
  • Test the idea whilst you are still employed, do a low cost soft-launch, use your spare time and/or that of your partner or other family members to see if it’s going to work. If possible use social media such as twitter/ facebook et al to help search related ideas or to test market reaction to the idea.
  • Investigate what cost and time saving Cloud / Mobile computing options you can exploit to fit the business in with your budget / lifestyle.

If you decide it’s worth a go – then do it. After all if you decide not to, do you want to always wonder what would have happened if you had?  If you are wrong you can always get another job. However, if in your heart you know that it’s not your thing and you don’t really have the urge to run your own show, then don’t do it.  Because it’s a fulltime, and I mean fulltime commitment, it’s not a 9-5 job.

And when you are successful, remember it won’t be because you were crazy or brave, it’ll be because you were lucky (or so everyone will tell you).  But we know the truth….

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About Author

Paul is Zonata's founder and MD. He has a true passion for business and is massively excited by the opportunities that Zonata provides for its clients and partners. He loves helping owner-managed businesses be exceptionally successful, and enjoys the phenomenal quality of the people who work with him.

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