It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur! Starting a business is not always easy but if you have a road-map, surround yourself with the proper resources and take time to learn the how-to-process, it can be way simpler. Before starting a new business, service or product, there are tons of questions to ask yourself. Here are 8 questions that can help you get clarity on what you want to do:
Define the reason why you want to create your business: To make jewelry affordable? To provide a VIP service in the valet parking business? To get rich? To make some extra cash on the side? To make as much money possible to leave your day job and be a stay-at-home mom? To offer products that did not exist in your neighborhood? or what else?
If you want to make some extra cash on the side with your new product or service (while having a full time job), you probably won’t have to invest as much (time, money, energy) as someone who doesn’t have a full time job. That will impact your choice when it comes to the type of business you want to put out in the world.
There are no good or bad reasons, the WHY will help you define the type of business, product or service you will have, so be clear about it. Be very honest with yourself since it’s not something you will necessarily share with the audience. It’s for you to know. It will be the reason why you wake-up in the morning and what keeps you going.
Define what you want to do: The type of store or service, the size, the products you will sell, and the ‘vibe’ the store will have…
Based on your WHY, you may have several options when it comes to your WHAT. If you want to become a stay-at-home mom, you may want to consider doing a business or service from home or closer to your house… but if the WHY is to get rich; you may consider a different approach. I’m not saying you cannot get rich by doing a business from home; some home-based businesses are very profitable.
But if you hate dealing with shipping, products transportation or managing inventories… you may want to rather consider a service-based business or an event type venture. I always recommend to my clients and students to work around something they love, their passion. Because when things get tough or complicated (they will at some point), you will have the strength to keep going if you’re really passionate about what you do.
Define a time-frame for your launch:
“A dream with no deadline is rather a wish”
The time-frame will also influence your execution. The steps might be different if you’re launching in 3 months vs if you’re launching in 3 years. There is something magical about giving yourself a deadline to do something. The universe, your body, mind, heart and soul will be in urgent production mode and will give you the necessary energy (adrenaline) to move at full speed and get it accomplished.
Besides, people will take you more seriously and may consider giving you a hand since it reassures them it’s for a limited amount of time (until the launch for instance). Not a lot of people will want to get on board or take you seriously if you don’t have a clear idea of when you want to start. They may be afraid it might never happen (or you’re not serious enough about it) and that their time and energy will be wasted. So make sure you have a clear deadline for whatever you want to put together. It will also help you to work backwards toward a step-by-step schedule.
Define the location you envision for your business: Online orders, physical store, pick-up counter, delivery only…
It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur. Anyone can start a business on their kitchen table or in their garage with only a computer, access to the Internet, and a cell phone (based on the type of venture you have in mind). Yes, you can run a multi-million dollar business from home. But it all depends on WHAT exactly you want to do.
It may not be a reasonable idea to consider having a McDonald’s franchise open in your basement or a strip club in a residential area. The location should be appropriate for the type of business you decide to do. If you want to have a big flow of clients come and go on a regular basis or make noise (doing concerts or other shows), your neighbor might not be thrilled about it and may even try to ‘boycott’ your new business and consequently push away your customers. When starting a new venture, you need all the support possible, so make sure it does not pollute your surroundings. Choose the appropriate venue whether it’s online or in a physical location. That may have an impact on your income.
Define your target clientele: Upscale neighborhood? Professionals? Middle class moms? Low income families? Students? Doctors? Homeless seniors (by contracting with the government)?
Although sometimes, people outside of your target audience may walk in or phone in to get your product or service, it’s crucial to clearly define who you want to serve. That will influence the type of service or product you put out in the world. Let me tell you that if you want to sell financial services to rich professionals or successful business owners in upscale neighborhoods, your offer will greatly differ from one that would target low income families in poor neighborhoods. A stay-at-home mom might have different needs than the career VP women out there. They may have different problems and priorities. You need to talk to them and serve them differently.
Knowing your target clientele will help you offer a more custom-made product or service that will address your exact needs. Besides being too expensive, trying to please everyone and reach anyone can kill your business since no one identifies with it.
6) MONEY & RESSOURCES:
Define the amount of money your business will require and where you’re going to find it: Is it 1 million, 100K, 10K or 1K?
It’s also important to consider how much risk you can and want to take. What impact will it have on your life and your family if the venture fails? Some investments might keep you awake at night because the risk is greater than what you can bear. There is no shame in starting with a small investment, one you feel comfortable with and one that will not destroy your life or you family’s in case the venture fails and you lose the money invested.
Marc Cuban once said it’s a very bad idea to borrow money to invest in a start-up. I too believe you should start where you are with what you have and your business will grow eventually. My best advice to you, is to get yourself educated before jumping. Do some research on your niche, take some workshops or take a comprehensive online course that can help you get the tools you need to avoid stupid costly mistakes.
7) TIME & ENERGY:
Define the amount of time you will need to invest: Work part-time in your day job? Quit your job? Work at night or on week-ends in your new business? Cancel some social activities?
Like a new-born baby, your new business or project will definitely require some time and energy. Since we all have 24 hours a day, what are you going to sacrifice to get more time? How are you going to make sure you still get time to sleep (7 to 8 hours) so you can properly function and be productive? Well, my favorite quote on this is:
“To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done”
If you are serious about succeeding in your new venture, you have to be prepared to roll-up your sleeves and put in the necessary time. Nothing happens magically with no effort or time. Be sure to plan your schedule accordingly. You may need to explain to your loved ones that, from now on, you will be less available for social activities or you will be less present at home at the beginning… Or perhaps you may want to ask them for their help in volunteering some time in the business too. Each situation is different, but be prepared to spend way more time than expected on this baby!
Define a plan to make it happen: How will you get your products? How will the food be cooked (in case of a restaurant)? How will you reach your audience (how will they know you exist…)? How will you gather your team? How will you face the competition?
In the HOW section, there could be a thousand questions to answer. But the bottom line is: You need a plan!!! In today’s day and age, you cannot simply improvise your way up. Success doesn’t just happen, it’s planned. You need an execution plan that will get you where you want to go. I call that a GPS. It doesn’t mean you will have no flexibility, but when you have it, you know exactly which road to take.
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Hope you found this article useful. Let me know what you’re struggling with when it comes to launching your own business, product or service and please share if you have other useful tips for new entrepreneurs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning actress, filmmaker, speaker and business owner, Fabienne Colas is the ‘Queen of Festivals’ and founder of a successful entertainment & media empire – which includes 7 successful festivals in Canada, the USA and Haiti; a production company and several other ventures. CEO/Founder of Zaza Production, Fabienne helps people unlock their greatness, launch their products and services, reposition their brand and bring their business to the next level.