So how do you sort all this out? Here are a few simple guidelines for starting a business from a serial entrepreneur who started 47 businesses – all with little money but a lot of research and determination:
1. Start with yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, achievements and failures, etc. What training or education do you have – or do you need to get to – that qualify you to do what you want to do? How creative are you and how resourceful at researching and solving problems?
2. Consider how much of your own financial resources will you have to plow into the business. Are you willing to lo e it all if things don’t work out?
3. Determine whether or not you will have to borrow significantly, or if more money will be needed later for other purposes. If you need outside funds, you may need to prepare a detailed business plan that would appeal to investors.
4. Ask yourself: What resources (outside yourself) do you have to bring to the work you choose to do? Who do you know that can act as consultants or mentors to provide the expertise that you need?
5. Ask yourself: What is your market? Have you thought through how you could make the best of the market you have chosen? In my experience, this is the most vital of all the steps to assure your success. Research – research – research. There is no substitute for thorough research.
6. Learn everything you can about the type of business you have chosen. Talk to people experienced in the field – and use the library and the Internet to do an extensive search to learn every aspect of the business. If it’s a new and untried business (which many of mine were), learn everything that is known that relates to what you plan to do.
7. Be patient. It may take months of research to put it all together, unless it is a fairly simple and straightforward business. On the other hand, if the business does not produce profits in a reasonable period of time, be prepared to drop it and do something else.
8. Be flexible. Be prepared to change on a dime if something is not working. You may have to fire the friend or relative you hired or change product lines. Be honest with yourself, make the needed changes, and move on.
9. Develop a list of early warning signals to watch for if trouble with products, employees, or finances occurs. Take corrective action before it is too late.
10. If the business fails, take the experience and lessons learned and move on to the next venture. I can tell you that life does not revolve around one idea or venture.
11. Consider the ethics of your business decisions. What we don’t need in our society is more scams. There are lots of ways to earn an honest living that contribute to the well-being of others, rather than taking from them, as is the case with most chain or pyramid selling schemes (MLMs). Ask yourself: Can I live the Golden Rule and still be successful in this business?
12. Try not to be scammed by others. The world is full of organizations and programs calling out for your time or your money – supposedly to fatten your wallet or make you more successful. Get-rich-quick offers and scams abound, and they are not always easy to identify. And we need to remember that many things are more important than money.
13. Ask yourself honestly if it would not be better to buy an existing business with a proven track record – than to start one from scratch. You can learn a lot from the prior owner about what you must do to attract customers and to make the business successful.
14. Carefully check out the competition. Their owners may not want to share their secrets with you, so consider consulting with owners of successful businesses in other areas of the country where you won’t pose a threat to them.
15. Consider carefully the legal and managerial hoops must you go through to make your chosen enterprise work. And find out what your must do to qualify for the necessary licenses or certification.
16. Evaluate whether you and your family would be better or worse as a result of your participation. Consider to what extent this business will take up important family time on the telephone or in traveling. Self-employment can be a jealous mistress.
17. Ask yourself: While I may need money to support my family or to supplement my income, have I carefully looked at alternatives (such as cutting down on unnecessary spending) that may be more consistent with my goals and my life style than self-employment? Can I balance out my life, keeping my priorities in order?
18. Ask yourself: Are the demands of this opportunity such that I will be strongly tempted to lie or exaggerate the truth to make a sale or to recruit another prospect (as with MLM or pyramid selling schemes)? Do I see people in the business rationalizing because of dissonance between the truth and what they have to tell people to be successful?
19. Determine if you could gracefully get out of the business once you get into it. You may need a backup plan in case things don’t go according to your original plan.
After all this research, perhaps a paying job will seem not such a bad choice. Many people try self-employment, only to find that it was not for them. They find the risks frightening, actual profits after all expenses slim, the hours long, and their boss the worst tyrant of all! If you are among those who discover that in retrospect, you had it very good in the job you left, don’t be surprised, and don’t label yourself a failure. Just update your resume, and go after the best job you can find. Your foray into self-employment will have added to your skills and insights and make you a more marketable candidate for your next job.
Telecommuting is an attractive option for some
If you desire to have the security of a salaried job but want to stay home with your family (as a single parent, etc.) or just wish to avoid commuting, consider telecommuting. Read the many resources from the page “Telecommuting, Job Flexibility, and Work-at-Home Job and Career Resources” at the following web site: http://www.quintcareers.com/telecommute_jobs.html
I hope this information has been helpful. At the very least, perhaps these articles have opened your eyes to the vast number of opportunities that are available to those willing to seek them out. You can provide for yourself and your family without the losses and ethical compromises that are certain to come from aggressive participation in an typical MLM program. And no one profits from pyramid or chain selling without such compromises. Good luck in finding an honest and profitable business venture that is right for you!