Have you got what it takes to start your own business? Probably your first response to this question is “How much money do I need?”
You will need access to finance but cash is just a commodity. There are plenty of investors around who will support great ideas and crowdfunding has proved to be an effective way of reaching them.
What about the personal qualities?
Most people are comfortable working for someone else. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely life and a tough one at times too. But, if you’re driven towards the excitement and satisfaction of owning your own business, let’s see what you’ll need.
First, develop your curiosity
Read as much as you can about being an entrepreneur. Books and magazines on the subject are plentiful. What’s more likely to turn your spark into a flame is to study the success stories of those who have made it.
Kalan Bilimoria’s story is truly inspirational and he has shared some of his secrets of successfully going it alone.
Lord Bilimoria, as he’s now known formally, was born in India and after taking a commerce degree there, he went to London where he qualified as a chartered accountant. From there, he studied law at Cambridge, expecting to join a legal practice after graduation.
One evening after classes, he was sitting in a local bar trying to decide whether to order a lager or an ale. While he was considering his choices, he began to wonder if there was a beer that was less gassy than a lager but lighter than a traditional ale.
Ideally, he thought, one that appeals to men and women and goes well with food, especially highly-spiced Indian cuisine.
That seemingly innocent question led to the formation of a global beer brand called Cobra, with annual sales of $250 million and a life peerage in the House of Lords for its creator.
Have a vision
In Lord Bilimoria’s words: “I wanted to create the finest Indian beer and sell it everywhere.”
Despite many setbacks along the way, three of which nearly ruined his business, he has never wavered in his determination to fulfil his dream.
While you should never shift your focus away from your goal, you have to remain open to the many different ways of reaching it. Competitors in any market aren’t going to sit on their hands and let you entice away their customers and you can never predict developments in the economy that may threaten or offer unexpected opportunities.
The phrase, “I have my own business” is misleading. You might be the only shareholder, but you’ll need co-workers, customers, suppliers and many others who have to understand your vision and be prepared to help you to bring it to life.
Act with integrity
“Another key element of our success has been integrity,” said Lord Bilimoria. “Throughout the life of Cobra, I have been surrounded by loyal partners, employees and family…as a group we have also always adhered to strong moral principles.”
All successful business people know that a good reputation is a tough thing to develop but an easy one to lose. Often, it can never be recovered.
Learn the business from the bottom up
Unless you buy a business, you’ll have to create everything yourself. All the tiny things you never gave a second thought now have to be mastered. Everything from renting premises, finding furniture or workshop equipment, negotiating terms with suppliers and, of course, finding customers.
But these tasks, even the menial ones, will help you later on when you have people working for you. Knowing how the routine jobs should be done will allow you to relate more closely to the workers you’ll one day hire to do them.
With enough money and the right personal qualities, what can go wrong?
A great deal unfortunately. According to Forbes business magazine, 90% of start-ups will fail. The reasons are many and varied but one thing you can be sure of is that things seldom go as planned.
True entrepreneurs know this and are prepared to deal with hardships. That’s because they don’t treat a lack of success as a failure but as an important lesson they can apply when they start again.
Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Colonel Sanders and many more household names were knocked down several times on their paths to success. Sanders, the founder of KFC, had his recipe turned down by 1,000 restaurants before he opened his first franchise.
If you want to start your own business examine your motives carefully. Make sure you have a passion and the vision.
Talk to people who have done the same and find out what they did wrong and what worked for them.
Understand what adjustments you will have to make. Initially, you will be the go-to person for everything. If you come from an environment with support staff, realizing that it’s you who has to do the deliveries as well as most of the rest of the work is a shock.