For the budding entrepreneur who made a resolution to start a business in the New Year, there are literally 100 things to consider before taking a risk in the marketplace. Here are a few tips to get you started that will address the most pivotal steps needed for success in every industry.
Self-evaluation is key. Are you passionate about being a business owner? Starting a business is no crystal stair. It requires lacing up your work boots to prepare for the marathon you will run the first year. Guy Kawaski's book "The Art of the Start" suggests keeping your cash outflows to a minimum during the start-up phase. Money has an interesting way of testing your commitment to your business aspirations. So, it's important to be confident in your decision to be self-employed from the outset.
Having relationships with prospective customers, suppliers, and vendors is imperative. If you plan to hire employees, however, these are the relationships you should focus on first. Establish clear objectives and roles for your employees that are motivational. While the employees work in your business, there will be time for you to work on the business.
Know your roles
In Michael Gerber's book, "The E-Myth Revisited," he reveals the myth of entrepreneurship and why many small businesses fail. In a nutshell, his position is that just because you have a technical skill (like a great bartender), that does not necessarily mean that you will be great running a business involving that skill (like a brewery or a local pub).
The book goes on to state that there are three separate personas that every business owner possesses: the technician who actually possesses the skill; the manager who delegates how, when and where this skill is applied; and the entrepreneur who wants to solve the world's problems by using this skill. It is important to understand the different functions of each role.
The $1 million question: how do you prevent physical burnout without burning through your start-up capital (because you have already secured start-up capital, right)? The answer is to develop the proper systems and strategies that allow the three business roles to function seamlessly.
The technician must have the creative freedom to enjoy the technical aspects of work. The manager must avoid becoming overwhelmed by delegating minute duties to others. The entrepreneur must remember to execute the overall vision before over focusing on short-term goals.
It is a lot to remember, but developing an operating system that is unique to your business is key. For example, write a position description for your role as owner that outlines your responsibilities and duties for each role you play. This will help remain accountable and assist with time management.
Without innovation, what will separate your business from the one down the street? The one that already has an existing customer base, a marketing plan and is generating revenue.
The greatest barrier to entry for any new business is a lack of innovation. Your business should solve a problem and your solution has to be different those currently provided in the marketplace. The book "Blue Ocean Strategy" offers ways to build innovation into any business model that will identify and deliver the total solution for your customers.
This is indeed a lot to consider but do not be discouraged. Organizations like the FAMU Small Business Development Center or a local chamber of commerce exist to help you succeed.
Take full advantage of these resources and consider reaching out to the business departments at a nearby college or university to seek assistance. Also, engage college students as future business leaders by establishing an internship program that serves as a service-learning opportunity.
Follow these tips and next New Year we will toast to your first successful year in business!
(LaTanya White, MBA is a professor in the School of Business and Industry at Florida A&M University, where she teaches management and entrepreneurship classes. Join White on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. for a live Twitter chat for expert advice on how to start a small business. Follow @ FAMU_LivingWell.)