Going into business is both exciting and daunting, and if you get bogged down in trying to cover all the details before you’ve opened your doors (real or virtual) you’d likely put yourself off starting up.
That said, there are certain things you may not know or have perhaps underestimated about starting a business.
1. Certain tech and equipment aren’t luxuries
Quite rightly you should look to minimize expenditure and avoid spending on equipment and services you may not need, but certain aspects aren’t luxuries; they’re necessities to compete:
Sales and inventory systems – efficient transactions of retail sales are expected now, so investing in modern POS (Point of Sale) systems is important.
The good news is there are various POS systems to suit all business types and sizes so you shouldn’t need to overspend.
Web presence – even if you’re setting up as a one-person consulting business, you’ll need a web presence such as a professional looking website.
2. Your costs will be higher than you think
No matter how well you do your advance planning, it’s almost certain your costs will be more than you think – some business advisors say quadrupling your original estimates is a minimum to avoid a shock when things kick off for real.
3. You can’t do it all yourself
While you do need versatility and a willingness to learn (and learn fast) as a new business owner, you’ll also need hired expertise at certain times.
While you could ‘do your own website’ and cobble together an online presence yourself, if you’re going beyond the basic ‘WordPress style’ two or three page website then a professional designer is a necessity.
Similarly, other professionals may be needed at times such as an accountant and maybe a lawyer. Some basic legal matters can be handled online, but you’ll need specific help from a legal practitioner such as when dealing with trademarks and patents.
4. Sales and marketing is possibly the most valuable skill of all
You may have the best product or service going but if your market doesn’t know it exists you won’t be successful.
Many products stand or fall by how well they’re marketed; even some humdrum products have thrived purely due to excellent marketing, and the opposite is true, too.
At least in the early stages, marketing will be your main activity and priority; if your skills are limited, you’ll definitely need to enhance or hire them in.
5. Problem solving versus passion
Just having a passion for a certain business type or product isn’t enough; it’s all about what problem you’re solving for your market.
Understanding what problems your market has and how you can solve them is the key to a successful business. A classic mistake by many failed businesses is to create a passion-based product only to find there’s no demand for it. Be prepared to be flexible to adapt your product to market demand.
6. Time is a precious resource
It’s remarkable how easy it is to spend time on the wrong things. Your priority is, of course, to generate revenue so try to spend most of your time on as many revenue generating activities as possible.
You’ll be amazed how time slips away and may find yourself guilty of misdirecting this on activities that don’t warrant it; for example, agonizing for days or weeks about your logo or pondering what theme your website should have.
Get into the habit of asking “is this the best use of my and our time?” and follow sound time management principles.
7. Things may go wrong
While optimism and positive thinking are key traits of business owners, it’s sensible to bear in mind possible problems and plan accordingly.
Maybe a key member of staff falls ill, a piece of machinery stops working at the wrong time, isn’t delivered when you need it, or an unforeseen expense rears its head. Do you have a contingency fund to meet these challenges?
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst – there’s a high likelihood at least something won’t go to plan.