Venturing into business

If you want to venture into business and stay there, you need the right mental makeup. Not all those who excel in an office environment can run their own business successfully. An office environment is more regulated, with systems in place and everybody functioning in their own tasks. All you need is to excel in your particular activity. This is vastly different from having your own business, where you give shape to and stay involved in every department.

Introspect on your motives for setting up the business. If you cannot come up with a more concrete motive than “I hate going to office”, don’t bother to make any business plans. A simple change of job will quickly help you lose any interest in running your own business.

Also, do not come up with a business idea based largely on the vision of a quick exit through a sellout. Even if that is your long term goal, you must have a plan in place to run your business till you find takers for it. Similarly, do not expect a double-quick deal simply because you’re roping in venture capitalists. Considering the big bugs they would be putting into your project, they are likely to take time before actually laying the money on the table. They may even ask you to modify your business plans to reflect what they think will work. Thus, if possible, be ready with variations on your original business idea.

Do not hurry through the ideation stage. Take your time, if you must, but be very sure of what the business will be all about. While the most obvious option is a field that you’re already familiar with, it pays to remember that solutions to a great problem turn out to be great business ideas. One of the best ways to know if you’ve hit upon a great idea is to ask yourself if, as a customer, you are looking for the service or product that your business plans to sell.

It pays to have thorough knowledge of your target market, existing revenue models in the industry, and whether you can come up with a different one. Research goes a long way in developing the unique selling propositions of your product or service, and doing a competitive analysis. Study what the start-up costs have been for others in the business.

Even if you have the entire business plan in your mind, set it down on paper. As you review details, new ideas will strike you. Writing them down will help pick out the doable ones from the rest. Also, written plan help others who need to be involved get clear idea of your vision. Getting opinions from more than one person whose judgment you value is easier. A written deed also makes it easier to set deadlines for each stage of the business.

Ideally, you should have both short-term and long-term goals chalked out. The more detailed your modus operandi, the easier it will be to detect loopholes in the plan.

It’s the Murphy’s Law of budgeting: no matter how much you plan expenses, you’ll end up shelling out more. That also applies to business. So set aside a sizeable amount for miscellaneous expenses and petty cash.

Back up “plans”: One backup would give your project a boost in case your original reading of opportunities was slightly awry. Another plan is necessary in case the entire project seems to be going kaput. This is different from conceiving of a project with a built-in pessimistic approach. Rather, think of it as making your ideas foolproof. This is important to secure your own future, and that of people who depend on you.

Do not be in a hurry to start out on your own. Quit your job only after you have every detail worked out. Be very sure that your business idea is not just a passing fancy-let it decant for a month or so before you pay attention to it again. If, after that time, the idea still seems as fresh, it may be worth dumping your current job, after all.