Having your own business is a great plan if you are ambitious and full of energy. It might give you a freedom, or make your life a nightmare. Let’s see how not to make mistakes when you start. I am giving these insights based on my own fails, on a way from employment to small entrepreneurship in Ukraine.
It is important to underline that entrepreneurship is not a lifetime title, but rather your temporal state. Life quickly changes, even if you built successful business it may come to an end one day. And vice versa: you may become owner of large corporation next year. My first mistake was an expectation that business is something solid, that you build and own for ages. But this is not. Owning a small business resembles balancing on a surf board on the wave: you can fall at any time, or just have wonderful moments of fun.
The best way to quickly test your business idea (and it should be done before you start any investment of time and money) is a landing page and online promotion of that page via Facebook and Google. Try to sell an empty air. Don’t be afraid to spoil first clients: it’s not a big deal, you may still say that you are gathering early orders and wish to hear the market feedback.
I need to mention here the difference between business and startup: startup is a venture with unclear business model, so if you want to resell something or open a coffee point it will not be a startup (because your business model is already known).
Most ideas will not work.
This is not because something is wrong with you. It is rather because people and companies are very pragmatic and reluctant in spending of their funds. Our thoughts and actions are not the same, especially when we pay a bill. Huge corporations spend lots of efforts to nurture new needs, so it is better if you address your business idea to already known space by the customers.
You have to keep in mind the customs (traditions) of the industry you chose. For example, in agricultural trade business people are eager to share percentage on sale, but will never use blockchain. So if you build a startup, you have to follow those rules and traditions.
When I started to test my first SMM trainings with early adopters many years ago, most people where telling that they require an educational product I made. But when I finished my first training course I never saw them among buyers. So, early researches may be still misleading: winning a paying client require time and efforts.
Of course, you need to invest, even for bootstrapped and freelance small business ideas. Why? Because you need not to work for some time, until you get first profit. How to calculate minimal budget to start? Very simple – take 6 months minimum of your regular salary.
The other expenditures depend on your skills, for example: can you settle a website yourself or need a web developer? As a minimum, for any sort of business you will also need sales support, accountancy, legal assistance. Think about personal transport if you need to make lots of meetings each day and move around the crowded city.
Experience and knowledge.
Most businesses are simple at first glance, but complicated in details. One of my fails in recent years was an attempt to produce car mats from EVA rubber. The mats were looking so simple. In reality I spend over 15 months to find right equipment and failed to recruit skilled folks in my city. Compatibility of materials appeared a key factor of success, so even having all parts I was not able to assemble the whole product. The goods you see every day like your favorite jeans are complicated items with lots of trade secrets.
No matter if you win or fail, just keep in mind that all your entrepreneurial attempts are a learning curve, and a lifestyle. Choose your personal goals for that process for not to be disappointed. I personally build my entrepreneurial projects to meet new people, and discover how the world around me operates. Enjoy your way and keep smile each new day.
About the author
Andrew Kass is an IT entrepreneur with interests in marketing, data, tech startups and import/export. CEO at GrowSpire Agency (Ukraine). He helps technology companies build products, research market and users, and find bespoke growth hacking strategies.