Are you someone who is keen to start your own small business? Or have you been considering how to make your hobby or side hustle a full-time gig? One of the questions we get asked the most is “What do I need to start a small business”?
We discuss this regularly with clients, friends, family, family of friends – in fact, we seem to always be able to find someone who wants to talk to us about small business. And that’s great for us because we are really passionate about sharing all we know about small business to help you be a success!
From our perspective, although it can be a very personal decision, there are three key factors to consider when starting a small business:
- do you have an idea;
- do you have passion; and
- do you have resources.
You need to have a strong idea for your business and the products and services you are going to offer. You need to understand the issues or problems facing your customers that you are trying to solve. And sometimes you will need more than one idea, product or service offering. Why – well I worked with a great business that would come in and clean up after a party and cook the guests breakfast. It was a great idea. But as people don’t hold parties every day of the week they had to work really hard to get the business to a level where it could support them full time.
That is where using business planning tools, like the business model canvas, is really helpful. It asks you to look at different areas around your idea to make sure you are giving it the best chance of business success, to get it to a level where you can support yourself and then grow it.
Once you are sure of your idea and developed it into a range of possible products or service it is time to “road test” your idea. Go to markets, do surveys, speak to possible clients and customers and ask everyone questions. Test all of your assumptions about your idea and the problem your product or service solves. If its food, feed people for free if you have to, to make sure there is a “market” for your product. You have to make sure you are not the only person that is interested in the product or service.
Passion and perseverance
You can have a great idea, but you also need to have the passion and risk appetite to make a small business work. You have to be sure it is what you want to do and give it 110%! The key ingredient in your small business is YOU – your passion, knowledge, skills, energy and perseverance. Running a small business is hard work! And it is unrelenting. For many small businesses, at the start you will have responsibility for every part of the business. You might not (and might never) have any employees and you may not be in a position to sub-contract work to other professionals. So, you are the CEO, office manager, finance officer, marketing officer, delivery driver, cleaner and much more! And you might be for a while in your business so you need to be passionate about your idea and determined to make your small business work.
We have had so many people tell us they want to start a small business but they “need” something to get it off the ground – the best equipment, vehicle or machinery, or an injection of money from some magical place! Don’t be held back from starting a business waiting for all of the “right resources”, when that day may never come. If you are passionate about your idea and have the commitment to work hard in your business you need to ask yourself what you really need to start.
In our workshops, Leesa often shares the story about when she had her first baby – she read all the books, and thought she needed to have everything – every type of baby lotion, change tables, bassinets, strollers AND cots, bottles. By her fourth baby though, she well and truly knew the four or five things needed for new babies. She new what she really needed and what she could live without.
Ask people already in business what resources were essential.
Our catch cry is from Arthur Ashe, who said: START where you are, USE what you have and DO what you can!
Do you have knowledge or skills that can be monetised? What freemium resources can you use and what is the easiest way to get your business off the ground?
In a recent workshop we were talking with a participant that wanted to offer short tours and visitor interactions, but didn’t have the funding for a vehicle, a special venue or permissions to visit special areas. But as we worked through the idea we found she could offer small group interactions in a local park that had a great view, amenities, parking and good public transport access. This would also given her the chance to “test” the idea with visitors without having a huge outlay of funds – all she had to do was give up her time! Being in debt before you even start your business places you under a lot of pressure. Try to think of a way to set up and run your business with the smallest possible outlay of funds but still being able to offer your products and services.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can is a valuable methodology. Being in business is hard. Being in a new business with existing and new debt is even harder.
Guest post: Emma Kerslake, Yolla Consulting is a business owner and experienced small business trainer and consultant. Emma’s motto is #BuildingBetterBusinesses. Follow Yolla Consulting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.