Community Futures Peace Liard works with small business owners throughout our region to help them achieve success. The steps that we guide you through will enable you to become one of millions of successful small and medium sized entreprises (SMEs) in Canada.
The questions to start with are:
- Do you have what it takes to join those thousands of people who start their own businesses each year?
- Do you have the determination, persistence and thorough research to support your idea?
If you can answer the following questions — or when you can answer them — you’ll know you have the right stuff to go forward with your business idea.
1. Have you spent enough time researching your new business and its markets?
Many new businesses fail because the business owner didn’t do enough research. Make sure that your business idea can work. Investigate the market carefully to see who the primary players are and how your new company fits.
2. Do you have enough money to get your company up and running?
Don’t underestimate how much it will cost to get your company through its start-up phase. If you didn’t do enough research or were too optimistic about your product, you could find yourself under-funded. Don’t believe your own projections and make sure that you have money stashed away for unforeseen events.
3. Are you wasting money on facilities?
While it might be nice to have your own facilities with the new desk in the fancy new office, such comforts can eat into your start-up budget. Begin as simply and cheaply as you can. Start a business in a shared space, a garage or your basement. By not spending too much on overhead costs you can use precious resources to boost sales and get some product moving into the marketplace.
4. Do you have a back-up plan?
Contingency plans or back-up plans prepare you for the worst. While hoping for the best, the smallest delay from a supplier, or a late payment from that precious, early client can create dire circumstances for a small business. Back-up plans will help you adjust to the new environment and move forward more efficiently.
5. Do you have partners you don’t need?
Before you take on a partner, think the decision over carefully. Have you chosen someone that will work as hard as you do? Partners should earn the privilege of owning a portion of the business. If they bring money to your operation, that’s a convincing reason to keep them. If you’re just lonely and want to have a friend to keep you company — perhaps re-think the partnership decision. Having a partnership agreement in place is imperative.
6. Are you hiring the right people?
When you hire people, you want to choose those with the right skills and the right attitude that complement your skill set. Especially with a small business, you can’t afford to employ someone who won’t be a good fit. For more thoughts on business with family members go to our succession planning section.
7. Can you see the big picture?
It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business. You also need to keep an eagle eye on the big picture, and as well, communicate the long-term and short-term strategic vision and goals to your employees and customers.
8. Do you take “no” for an answer?
Successful entrepreneurs don’t take no for an answer. When others tell them that “it can’t be done” or “nobody’s ever tried that before,” entrepreneurs set out to prove these people wrong. As an enterprising business person, you will have to take your own counsel (and those of your trusted advisors) while applying good research to determine if in fact your decisions are feasible.
9. Are you looking for validation or are you looking for the truth?
Even wildly successful business owners can be occasionally uncertain about what to do next. In those cases, the ones that continue down the path of success aren’t interested in simply having their ideas validated by people they turn to. They want the truth. Family members, employees and even your spouse may tell you what you want to hear. Instead turn to a trusted and seasoned advisor for the impartial third party brainstorming session. Read more about networking.
10. Do you know what you want out of the business?
Why are you starting a business in the first place and what do you want out of it? You have to know these answers before you can do long and short-term planning. What is your exit strategy? It may seem an odd question to ask at the beginning of your start-up process. You need to consider what you want to get out of the business, both while operating it and when it comes time for business succession.
Do you want to sell it and move to your vacation property? Do you want to spin it into another business? Whether you want to do what you love, leave a family legacy or be your own boss (see the next section) creating goals at the outset will help you make the most of your journey in small business ownership.