Start your own business?
You want to be the boss, start your own business
Starting your own business can be a challenging, exhilarating and incredibly rewarding endeavour. The sense of satisfaction you can garner from creating an engine that not only provides employment for yourself but several others can be equaled by few other activities.
There are as many reasons to go into a business as there are businesses, but a big caution to those who think flexibility in hours and a leisure lifestyle are just around the corner. The reality for the first couple of years is that as an owner you have to be on call 100% of the time. If somebody calls in sick, you will have to cover if you can't call in a substitute. If at the end of a week cash is short and there is not enough to go around for payroll, guess who gets paid last? that's right, you do.
There are many ways to go about this, depending on the type of business you are trying to start. If you want to start a retail business, with a"brick and mortar" type storefront, you will need experience in the area of business you are going into, you'll need a business plan in order to explain your plan and give potential backers a basis on which to evaluate your chances of success, you'll need the backers because a store lease, fitting out the store to be an attractive retail area, and the cost of at least an initial set up of inventory all take a big chunk of cash.
A business plan is a road map for your first couple of years in business. You need to know enough about the business you are going into so that you can project potential revenue on some basis, as well as potential growth targets so you will later have an idea how you are doing. There are plenty of books, seminars and online resources to tell you what is and is not important to cover. If you want or need additional input, an organization called SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) helps network retired executives in the business of your interest, with the younger, "in need of mentoring" crowd. In any given industry there are plenty of differences between being an employee in the business and being the owner and having the final say and responsibility.
How to decide what business you want to go into may be simple to you, as in if you have been in the floral business for 15 years as someones employee, it makes sense to utilize the experience and knowledge that you already have, on the other hand, you may be in middle management for a large corporation with skills that don't really translate into an immediate business opportunity. In such a case there are many franchise opportunities that you might want to look into. One of the strong benefits of buying into a franchise is that you usually are buying a huge package of knowledge and business specific mentoring with the hope that you can avoid many of the first year or two worth of mistakes that seem to cripple many businesses.
When is also a variable, as individualistic as the potential businesses you might go into. I've seen a mid-level banker transition into a dry-cleaning franchise because three mergers had put him on the street three times in five years. A woman friend built a successful business tutoring high school students when she lost her job in an obscure and poorly paying social services agency.
A service type business may be easier to start up on short money than one requiring a building lease and inventory. Plenty of successful builders who build large subdivisions got their start with a pick-up truck and a couple of saws and other hand tools. The make a point of providing an excellent product and excellent service so they get a steady stream of referrals. Over time the size and complexity of the jobs that come their way increases and they have learned to buy tools as they expand, or rent really expensive ones, by the time they have the need for a large capital expansion loan they have a track record of successful business and have built up a reputation as a good businessman.
I've seen women build successful interior design businesses this way, as well as successful cleaning businesses and I've seen men build landscaping businesses from one truck and trailer eventually owning over a million dollars worth of equipment.
The only absolute advice might be to try and pick a business that interests you, as you will spend a great many hours the first couple of years building a clientele and solid cash flow, so it really helps if you enjoy the activity.
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