Should I Start a Small Business
Should I start a small business?
No waking up to the alarm clock at 6 A.M! No rush to catch the 7:50 local train! No punching in the time card seconds before the 9A.M entry time! No boss to report to!
Work, when you want to and how you want to! Take the day off whenever you feel like!
Sounds the stuff of dreams?
Starting and running your own small business is a dream for many people – a somewhat hazy, almost romantic dream of life in a swivel chair watching your break-through products being lapped up by grateful customers, getting up only to take the money to the bank.
So, does the dream come true? Well, there are small business owners who are very happy and there are those whose dreams have become nightmares; and there are many more who may or may not be happy, but would not want to do anything else. A small business can be extremely satisfying and challenging. But a small business is not for everyone. And it is a fact that a large proportion of small businesses fold up rather early.
Should you start a small business? Well, you know that best, the answer lies in you. But you may like to consider the following points, (just a bit of basic thinking aloud, for though running a small business, I am no expert.)
1. Do you have a really great product or service idea
It is a very cluttered world out there today. There are new businesses started every day, new products launched every day. Consumers have more choice than ever before and are exposed to more advertising than ever before. Does your product or service have something unique or distinctive to appeal to consumers through all the clutter? Is there a visible gap for a service offering you can fill?
2. Does the product have a market you can tap
Is there a market for your product at your price? Is there an easy (cost-effective) way for you to reach this market. Organised market research may be quite expensive and out of reach for a small business, but you can and should do your own research at least in a small way. If it is product you plan to retail in shops, talk to the shop-owners in your locality to see if there is a demand for such a product, assess competition etc. If your business plan is to offer a local service perhaps you can talk to similar outfits in another locality.
3. Can you work long often lonely hours
A small business is still a business. It still needs a lot of different types of work just as a large business would – financing, planning, purchasing, production, marketing, accounting & reporting, recruitment & human resource management etc; but often very few people, often just the business owner to do most of the work. Yes, it is challenging, may be rewarding, but still is a whole lot of hard work and long hours. Small businesses may not have access to highly trained manpower that a large business may, and often have to fit job profiles to the people they hire rather than the other way round. It is usually up to the business owner to fill the gaps. Often small business owners find themselves working all kinds of hours, many find that they do sacrifice a lot of other interests, family time etc. While this need not be the case, it does seem to happen a lot of times.
4. Do you have the starting capital
Any business needs to pump in capital to start up the business and keep it running until it generates sufficient revenue to sustain itself. Many businesses close down because they are unable to sustain until sufficient revenues come in. It is important to correctly estimate the amount of capital needed. You should have this or be able to raise this to give your business a better chance of success. Entrepreneurs often underestimate the expenses involved in starting up and running a business. Revenues often take longer to come that we think and may be lesser that we planned. Do try and make as realistic an estimate as possible of the capital required. Many businesses close down due to lack of funds when revenues take longer to come in and their capital is exhausted; that could have thrived and succeeded if they could have held on a little longer.
5. Can you afford to lose the regular monthly pay check
Yes, sometimes working in a large organization can be boring, but remember, you are better assured (though not always!) of your check at the end of the month that can pay your mortgage and put food on the table. This is obviously important and much more so if you have large financial commitments with little alternate sources of funds.
6. Can your business afford to fail
Statistics show that a large number of small businesses fold up within the first few years itself. While you do not want to be a statistic, it may be a good idea to have a plan B, in case things go wrong. Do you have a plan B?
(Then again there are those who feel that if you do have a plan B you are more likely to let things go wrong!)
7. Can you be a ‘Jack of many trades’
A small business owner is often a little bit of an accountant, technician, manager, coach, lawyer and salesman – all rolled in one. While you may have people to handle these, it us usually a good idea to have a working knowledge of everything – so you can talk the right language with the experts and you can fill in any gaps.
Disclaimer: The above article only represents the personal views of the author, who doesn't claim to be an expert in this field. This is in no way a subsititute for professional legal, business or accounting advise. You should take advise from a qualified professional when required. The author disclaims specifically any responsibility for any action or decision taken on the basis of this article.