Before you make the leap into starting your own business, ask yourself these four questions:
• Is it really a better personal career choice?
• What do I need to know to decide?
• How can I prepare myself?
• How do I get started?
In this article, I will help you find answers to those key questions by relating to my own experience as both a corporate manager and an entrepreneur in addition to what I have learned from more than 15 years of consulting to owner-managers.
Do really want to own your own business? The advantages are attractive, but don’t forget the disadvantages that are an inevitable part of the choice.
• Unlimited opportunity
• Freedom, independence
• Continuous challenge, variety
• Your choice of management style
• Responsible for and involved in the whole business
• If the business does well, you do well
• Still limits to what you can do or control
• Many people are now dependent on you
• Requires skills and knowledge you probably do not have
• Higher risk, less secure financial future
• Cannot leave it at the office
The next step is to assess whether you are the Entrepreneurial type:
• Personal expectations and preferences – life style, work environment, rewards, compensation method?
• Personal strengths and weaknesses?
• Education, training, contact network?
• Characteristics of an entrepreneur?
• Independent, confident, persistent, action-oriented, risk taker. Passionate, leader, achiever, communicator.
• Solid foundation – family, physical, financial health?
• Additional resources available – partners, suppliers, key customers, employees?
If you are still determined to proceed, consider which business option best meets your entrepreneurial ambitions:
• Home based business, multi-level marketing
• Independent contractor – trade or professional
• Sales agent – insurance, real estate, financial services
• Franchisee – retail, fast food, business services
• Independent business – local, national, global
• Retailer, hospitality, food services, consumer services
• Manufacturer, distributor, service businesses
• Internet or technology business
• Entrepreneurial role in a corporate environment
Once those choices are made, the next question is: What is my business opportunity?
Your selection will be based on your personal knowledge, experience, and contacts:
• Opportunities that match my capabilities?
• Market need?
• Current solutions available?
• What is my proposed solution?
• Confirmed by market test, customer feedback?
• How do I make it profitable?
Now you are ready to document a Business Plan.
Why do I need a Business Plan?
• To develop and document your business concept, strategies, action plans and projected financial results as a guide for management.
• To provide necessary information for potential sources of financing.
• To attract new investors, strategic partners, or key employees.
When do I need a Business Plan?
• New Business Start-up
• Launch a new product/service
• Enter a new market
• Strategic review and performance diagnostic of an existing business
• Prepare a business for sale, merger, acquisition or succession
Business Planning Process and Checklist:
• Assess Personal Objectives
• Identify the Business Opportunity
• Define your Business Concept & Model
• Conduct sufficient Market Research
• Develop the Strategic Plan
• Define Operating Plans
• Prepare Financial Projections.
Business Plan – Recommended Table of Contents
1. Executive summary
2. Concept and business opportunity
3. Mission, Vision, Values
4. Market analysis
6. Strategic plan
7. Management team and Organisation Plan
8. Product and Service offering
9. Marketing and Sales plan
10. Operations plan
11. Risk analysis
12. Financial plan
With all that preparation and analysis completed you will be ready to look at financing your Business Plan. There are many alternatives available, but you will probably go through these sources of financing as you proceed with your plan:
• Personal investment, cold cash
• “Sweat equity” – time and effort, not paid
• “Love money” – willing friends & family
• Bank financing – term loans, line of credit
• Angel investors – passive, active, added values
• Government funding, special loans, grants
• Venture capital – private equity
• IPO – Initial Public Offering