Starting a business for creative, idea people or anyone with passion
Columnist Dean Swanson says passion and creativity are great reasons to start a business, but know there's more to it than that.
Are you an artist, a writer, a professional cook, or maybe you’ve got a talent that can save people time and money? If you’re considering selling your creativity as a product, now is the time to take your talents to the business level.
Does the thought of being your own boss make your heart beat faster? Whether you dream of founding the next McDonald’s, starting a family business to pass on to your children, or simply making a comfortable living doing something you love, it’s never been easier to start a business than it is today.
You don’t need an office — you can work from home and use technology to serve clients across the country. You don’t need an expensive brick-and-mortar store — you can set up a website and sell your products all over the world. You don’t need a massive advertising and marketing budget — you can use social media and search engine optimization to attract customers on a shoestring. You don’t need employees — you can hire independent contractors as needed and grow a thriving business all on your own.
But while starting a business is easier than ever in many ways, the foundation of any profitable business remains what it’s always been: determination, drive and hard work. As you begin your entrepreneurial journey, use this chapter to lay the groundwork for success.
Here are a couple of steps to start your process.
First, determine why you want to start a business. Why do you think now is the time to do it? Why do you want to pursue your specific idea? Answering these questions will help you feel confident that you are starting a business for the right reasons.
If you’ve dreamed of starting a business since you ran a lemonade stand at age 6, that’s probably a good reason to start a business. If you had an argument with your boss on Friday morning and decided Friday afternoon that you want to start your own business, that’s not such a good reason.
Successful small business owners are passionate about what they do. Passion gives you the energy to handle the hard work of startup. Passion about your product or service gets potential customers excited about what you’re selling. Passion for your business’s potential helps convince employees to work for you and bankers to lend you money. Passion will take you a long way if you have it.
Also, assess why now is the right time to start this particular business. Do you see an unmet need and significant demand for what you’re planning to sell? Do you want to be first to market with a product or service no one else is offering?
Second, assess your readiness, skills and experience. Do you know what it takes to be a business owner? Do you have the skills, perseverance, and resilience required? Running a small business is challenging, and it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Successful entrepreneurs have several things in common:
- Successful entrepreneurs can look at the market and see a need they can fill. They don’t plan their business based on what product or service they want to offer; they plan based on what potential customers want to buy.
- There’s risk involved in starting and growing any business. Smart entrepreneurs limit their exposure to risk through planning and preparation. But if the mere idea of taking a risk ties your stomach in knots, you probably need to get more comfortable with risk before launching your business.
- Starting and running a business is full of choices — everything from what to name your business to how much to charge for your product and where to locate your office. You need to be able to make your own decisions.
- As an entrepreneur, you won’t have one job, you’ll have many. If you love baking pies and want to open a pie shop, know that in addition to baking, you’ll likely handle accounting, administration, sales and marketing, IT and more. The more experience in different roles you have, the better.
- Every small business owner is a salesperson to some degree, especially in the startup stage. If you enjoy talking to people, helping people and learning from people — if you’re a “people person” — you have a good start on success.
- Know that long hours are part of the bargain. The majority of entrepreneurs work more than 50 hours a week; 25% work more than 60 hours a week. In addition, 89% work weekends and 81% work nights. The good news: All that hard work will build something that belongs to you — not your boss. Just be sure you have the energy and grit to put in long days and nights.
- The road to business ownership is full of ups and downs. You’ll hear lots of rejections and encounter many obstacles. Can you persevere through these challenges?
Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.