Many people have ideas for a new business, and dream of a day when they might work for themselves. But for most people, this dream never materializes. And for the remaining intrepid entrepreneurs who start a business, there is no guarantee of success. Let’s compare entrepreneurship to something not at all related: football. For every player who makes the peewee football team, very few will one day play at the collegiate or (even rarer) the pro level. The same is true for entrepreneurs. While there are many who are theoretically capable of starting a successful business, few will actually create one which lasts, if at all. This is not to say that entrepreneurship is not a good path to follow. On the contrary, it can be one of the best decisions you ever make in your life. But everyone considering starting a business should ask himself or herself the following:
- Do I Have a Basic, Sustainable Idea? A good business needs to start as a functional, basic idea. Let’s say you want to start a baked goods company. First, you should be able to make, package, and ship a great cookie. If you can create a cookie which could, theoretically, sustain your business indefinitely, then your idea is a good one. From the cookie foundation, you can build into other baked goods, expanding your business model. But you’ve started from a solid platform. Many businesses do not start from a sustainable mode, and it’s challenging for them to grow from that point.
- Do You Have a Unique Business Idea? For a business to succeed, it must either offer something that other businesses do not, or it must conduct its business in a way that exceeds others’ professionalism. Businesses that are redundant do not do well. However, you may have a conventional idea which is not represented by any other local business. Take the average delivery pizza place, for example. It’s not that there aren’t thousands of other ones. But if your pizza place opens in an area that doesn’t have competition, your conventional restaurant will have a corner on the market.
- Do You Understand the Tools of Your Modern Industry? Whether or not you’ve been to business school, you should understand how people in your business are conducting business today, not 2 or 5 or 10 years ago. Today, many new technologies exist that are continually revolutionizing industries. These revolutions happen in cycles measured in months, not years or decades. So pay attention. “Apple Pay has enabled us to offer parents a layer of security and privacy when making electronic payments with our child care centers.” says Shourya Ray of SkyChildCare. One may have thought that the childcare industry is one with few innovations, but SkyChildCare is an example of the ways that technology and communication innovations can make the industry safer, more efficient, and more affordable.
There are many other questions which one should ask oneself before starting a business, but these are three of the most fundamental. From here, it should be easy to see what other considerations must be made before starting a (successful) small business.
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