Creating a business is a dream shared by many people. Being your own boss, being free to schedule your life according to your needs – above all, the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it. This is the dream.
Then there’s reality. Yes, you are your own boss, but this often means making decisions when you have to, not when you want to. Your personal freedom often clashes with the needs of your suppliers and your customers. And of course, the inevitable deadlines! This is not the dream.
Being in business for yourself is a demanding affair but has its own fascination. In a survey conducted by Micro Biz Mag in January 2020, 65% of UK workers said they would like to start their own business.
Unfortunately, 90% of new start-ups fail in their first year and only 50% make it to the fifth year.
This is usually because many of those who start a business do so with a somewhat casual attitude. They love “doing their thing” without ever asking if there’s actually a market for their thing. Creative people are buzzing with ideas, so much so they often can’t give a definitive direction to their enterprise. They rely on friends, family, and the occasional buyer to do business with, but once this market has dried up, everything folds. If you recognise yourself in this description, your idea of business is closer to that of having a hobby.
Don’t get me wrong! Most hobbies have the potential to become highly successful businesses. Hobbies are driven by passion, and without passion, there is no business.
You can transform your passion into a thriving business. Here are the basics.
SOLVE SOMEBODY’S PROBLEM
As a consumer, you are looking for a product that solves a problem you have. As a business person, your goal should be to solve somebody’s problem. This is essential – 42% of startups fail because they don’t provide a solution to a problem.
This leads us to the first fundamental question you should ask yourself: what problem does my product solve? No matter how pretty, cool or funky your product may be, if it doesn’t solve a customer’s problem it’ll go down with them like a lead balloon.
One of the basic mistakes is to think that if we like something, everybody else will like it, too. Everybody is different, and even if we share ideas and points of view, each of us has our own personal take on them.
The second fundamental question is: who can benefit from using your product? You need to know what makes your product valuable to others.
Would you like to know how? You can read more about it in my other blog post here.
FOCUS ON ONLY TWO THINGS
Have you ever made a list of things to do only to feel overwhelmed just by reading it? Creating a business boils down to understanding just two things: your customers, and your product. To be successful, you need to understand just how your product could be useful to your customers. Once you’ve answered that question, you can start doing all those things you need to do to create a business.
THE ONE-MAN BAND
Creating a business is a complex affair. There are technicalities that must be understood if you want to succeed and you just can’t cover them all by yourself.
Before starting any business, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you know and what you DON’T know, for instance about legal matters, or graphic design. Once you’ve discovered what you don’t know, you can invest your money more wisely by knowing when to handle things yourself, and when to hire professionals.
If you feel a little overwhelmed by this process, think about engaging a mentor. A mentor can help to keep you focussed and make it easier for you to reach your goals.
Probably you’ll find all this rather tiring and overwhelming before you start to see any benefit from it. If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we should all look after ourselves. We can do this by creating boundaries between our professional lives and our personal lives. Otherwise, things can easily get out of hand.
Nobody becomes a proper businessperson overnight, but a lot of people have made it, so can you.
If you are thinking of starting a business, and you live in the UK, the government has put in place a scheme to help to start your own business https://www.gov.uk/apply-start-up-loan