Do you ever think of starting a small business of your own?
You`re a right thinking person.
Now is the right time to start that business.
But I don`t really know how to go about starting a business?
Well, that`s the reason why I’m here.
I will discuss below with you in two parts. First, things you have to do before starting that little business. Second, thing you have to do when you`re running your small business, so as to make money from your little business
Before you start that little business.
- Understand what business is.
I think the best place to start our discussion on this topic is to try and explain what business is.
I know you will feel insulted if I ask you, “do you know what business is?” All of us assume that we know, yet most people don`t know what business is.
Some people see business as a place to make money. That`s half-true. Some see business and e venture where we sell products and services. That`s as well not completely true.
Business is a venture through which we solve people`s problems.
If you can see business as a venture by which you will provide products or service to help people make their lives better, you`re already on your way to succeed in the business world.
You`re not starting a small business to make money, though you will make money. You want to start business so as to help some people make their lives easier or better.
If you understand this concept, your success will be faster.
We can continue…
- Be willing to acquire business skills.
Let me tell you what most business writers won`t tell you… business is a profession… a profession that requires skills.
Whenever you are thinking of business, compare it with Medicine, Law or Accounting. Whenever you`re thinking of becoming a business owner (even a small business owner), think about becoming a lawyer or a medical doctor.
If you`re planning to become a medical doctor, what will you do?
You will acquire medical skills.
Just as a pilot, a chemist or an engineer has to be trained to succeed in his field, everyone who intends to make money in business must be trained in the art and science of doing business.
As you`re planning to start a little business of your own, the best way to succeed faster is to start educating yourself about how to run business and how to make business successful.
You have to become a student of the business by reading good business books, magazines and online articles about different skills you need to make your business a success.
You have to read a lot of things about marketing, cash flow management, human relationship, leadership, negotiation selling and many other titles.
When it comes to business, the money is in the knowledge.
Don`t argue with that.
You have to brainstorm and discover a profitable idea you will build your business around. This is usually not an easy task, but there are some good steps you can take to discover the best business for you.
You can start by looking at you environment to see what products or services people need and are not available.
You can think about things many people are complaining about and see how you can create solution to such problem. Think. Think. Think and grow rich.
(If you`re a Nigerian and want us to help you about how you can discover profitable business idea in Nigeria, click here)
- Overcome the fear of failure
“What if it doesn`t work” “what if I lose my money?” “What if….” What if is the question we ask whenever we`re afraid of failure.
Yes, businesses fail and every business owner fails (I mean it). But is failure really a bad thing? Yes, if you call it failure. Many at times what we call failure is simply an outcome of our wrong input.
I have experienced some business failures in the last few years and when I look back, what I tell myself is, “if I had knew what I know today, I wouldn`t have done it the way I did it”
The above statement shows that the reason why I failed in those times in business was actually because I didn`t know what I should know.
And as long as I made mistake and failed I learned my lessons and become smarter.
That`s the reason why some people call failure the great teacher or a challenge. It teaches you. it challenges you. It makes you grow and become smarter.
Failure is painful, I agree. But you have to overcome the fear of failure if truly you want to start a small business of your own.
If you keep on asking, “what if…” “What if….” You will never have the courage to take the first step.
Though we usually fear failure, it`s not usually as painful when it happens as we thought it would be. Many times what you discover is that you can actually cope and move on.
Be strong. Be courageous, overcome the fear of failure and start that small business.
- Don`t overestimate your potential profit
A general mistake we all make is to overestimate the amount of money we will make from our business. Our thought usually goes like, “If I start business A, in the next three months I will make XXX amount of money”
Don`t overestimate your possible earning. In fact, I will advise you to instead underestimate.
If you sit down and see that the possible profit you`ll make in the next six months is #100,000, then assume it`s going to be #50,000.
Why is this important?
So that you won`t be disappointed if your estimated profit doesn`t work the way you plan.
Many people have walked out of their businesses because of their unhealthy expectations. If you expect too much too soon, if it doesn`t work out, you will be highly depressed and may be tempted to forsake the whole business.
Be reasonable in your expectations.
- Come up with a smart business name
Your name matters. Your name matters. Your name matters.
I can tell you that one thousand times. Your business name is the first thing your potential customers will see and whether you like it or not, people judge you by your name.
Read our tutorial about how to name your business here
- Will you need a partner?
You have to answer this question. Do you need a partner? Will you love to work with someone? Do you like working with someone?
If you will need to work with someone, then you may want to agree on the terms and responsibility of both you and your small business partner.
I have told you before, do you remember? Money change people. Don`t assume that because Felix is your friend he`s going to be a good business partner. Watch. Make a few partnership agreement.
If you cannot document it on a paper (so as not to hurt your friendship relationship), you can record your conversations when he may not know you`re doing so. That will stand as your partnership agreement.
- Will you need a legal document or business registration?
Some business require certain legal documents while others don`t. some small business require business registration of certain kinds while others don`t.
Things varies depending on which part of the world you are.
Ask. Find out. Enquire from people who may know about the legal and government`s registrations of your intending small business.
- Online or offline?
This depends on what product or which service you want to render. You can start your small business in the physical world or on the internet.
You can read this tutorial about how to start profitable online business.
- Pains come before child-birth.
Starting a business isn`t the same as getting a job. When you get a job, you start receiving salary almost immediately. That`s not so in the business world.
Though business owners are the richest people in the world, that`s just after they have paid the price. Pains come before every child-birth.
Your small business will require much endurance and tenacity.
If you understand this, you will have extra strength than those who don`t.
Now that you`re starting
- Customer is still the king
I told you this earlier when I wrote about small scale business ideas. I`m usually furious when I see the way many small business owners treat their customers.
They are the king. They are the reason why you`re in the business. Don`t fall into the trap of thinking, “if he goes another person will come”. Instead, tell yourself, “If I treat him well, he can bring 10 customers”.
The problem about treating customers without kindness is that (like most other things), it becomes a habit. You suddenly see yourself getting angry at many customers each week.
You`re losing them, losing their friends and even losing those who are looking at you.
Some small business owners will say, “he`s rude!”
I tell you, he has the right to be rude. People are generally rude whenever they want to spend money and they have the right to be rude because it`s not too easy to make money.
Be kind. Be gentle. Be loving towards your customers.
- Starting small isn`t the same as thinking small
That you`re planning to start a small business doesn`t mean you must think small. Every today giant business started small.
Coca Cola started selling cola drink without any bottle, without any can and without any packaging. You would have to go and buy cola drink with your cup or jug. That was odd, isn`t it?
Google started in a garage. Facebook started in a room. Just name that big business and you will probably see it began so small.
But the owners of today`s big companies never thought small.
If you think small, you will remain small.
Always think of growth. Always think of expansion. Always think like a giant, even as you`re just starting that business in a little way.
- Marketing. Small Business Marketing
Most people who have small business (especially in Nigeria and Africa) usually start and pray that customers come. They don`t do anything about marketing their businesses.
You have to know how to brand your business, how to present yourself to your customers and how to attract more customers by marketing your small business.
Don`t just start a business and think it will grow. Be proactive. Reach out to your potential customers. Market whatever you`re selling.
You can read this post about marketing strategies here.
- Time to be frugal
When people start making some money from their businesses, they start spending more money. They start eating more expensive meals. They start thinking of buying a better TV. They start carrying bigger ladies.
Bye-bye to money!
Don`t fall into such trap. Be frugal. Don`t be a spender. Reinvest your income. Your goal now is not to live a better life, but to have a great business.
- Keep records
If you cannot measure, you cannot improve. If you cannot keep records, you cannot measure.
Record is what shows us how we`re are doing.
No matter how small your business is, always keep financial records of income and expenses. Always keep record of stocks and few other things that are needed to be measured.
Keep records. Examine your records and see how your money is coming and going. This will help you to measure and to improve your small business performance.
Take for instance, if you take a record of your personal expenses, at the end of the month you may discover that you`re spending on few things that you don`t actually need, then you`ll cut that off.
If you`re taking record of some little things you`re buying in your day-to-day transactions, you may at the end of the month discover that you`re spending too much on buying things at retail price and then look for ways to buy such things in bulk.
You`re measuring. You`re improving.
Don`t fall into some “quick money” traps that are flying all around. I have rejected some of those offers in the past and I’m encouraging you to do likewise because it`s distractive.
You may be working on your little business and someone will come and introduce a “quick-money-scheme” to you, whether in form of network marketing or online fast money.
That`s a distraction. If you give in to such traps you may not have time to stay focus on your business vision.
- Don`t be discouraged with the result now.
As I mentioned earlier, don`t over estimate the amount of money you can make in the next one year. Instead, underestimate it.
Plus to that is that you shouldn`t be discouraged by the result you will get when you just start a new business. It takes time for a seed to germinate, grow and bear fruit.
As long as you`re committed to your business and keep on learning, you will grow, make much money and transit yourself from being a small business owner to being a successful entrepreneur.
I wish you best of luck in your business.
You may check out any of the below books:
we love you!