Starting a Business


April 13, 2015

Many people like the idea of starting their own business. They see it as a road to independence and perhaps riches. 

What few of them realise is that once the excitement of actually getting started has gone away, they will be left with a long, hard, sometimes frustrating, slog to establish themselves. What perhaps they also don’t realise is that their chances of success are small. However, there are ways to raise the chances of success quite significantly.

The first question to ask is not, “What business should I start”?

Rather you should ask yourself, “Am I capable of seeing it through, do I have the energy and determination to succeed, am I prepared to sacrifice everything I have to make it a success? If your answer is, “I’m not sure” I suggest you look for employment elsewhere. If your answer is “yes”, then you are on your way.

If you need a partner, is that partner your best friend or someone who can really add value to your business? You have to be ruthless when starting a business. Every competent person and every available rial must contribute to the maximum in order to make your limited resources work effectively, since good resources will always be scarce.

Only then does it make sense to go to the next step and ask yourself what business you want to be in. Perhaps you say to yourself that you have always wanted to be in the electronics retailing business (for example) and that you are convinced you have all the qualities mentioned above and the necessary finances to make a go of it.

The next step does not involve going to suppliers, looking for premises and so on. What you should first do is ask yourself what is the future of retailing electronic goods? If you believe for example, from your research, that the methods of purchasing are changing you can then differentiate yourself by anticipating the changes. It will much easier for you to implement a new approach than it would be for a company that has been around for a number of years which will be more resistant to change.

Where are the gaps in the market, what are the products which people want but cannot get?

One of the best ways to come up with a business idea is to ask yourself what you need that no one currently provides? Obviously most people start in a small way, so find a product or service that can be grown. It is probably not a good idea to go into (say) car manufacturing if you are a beginner.

But there may be a piece of software that can make people’s lives easier, or some kitchen equipment or a new building material or a specialist design studio. Have a brain-storming session with friends. I would suggest that you look hard at trends. For example in the past, picking up some agencies was a good way to start. However, many of these have collapsed with the advent of the global market and online purchasing. So if you do want to pick up an agency make sure it requires an implementational skill which will be a barrier to entry for others.

Small businesses are like trees. They need to be fed the right nutrients to grow and they may have to overcome drought or flooding so not all will make it to maturity. Typically, in the US, around 50 per cent of businesses are still operating after five years.

In a country with no tradition of entrepreneurs, that figure will be much lower. However, that should not deter the true entrepreneur since the true entrepreneur accepts failure as part of the process.