Maybe you’re already making arrangements for financing, saving your pennies for your first location. Maybe you have no clue. You just know you want to start your own thing. You know you want to go with a more traditional business model. Good for you. Perhaps you’re doing with a partner. Great. You are well situated to take your first steps with considering your options.
If you’ve no experience in running a business, you’ll want to read some books on the subject, but Be Smart About Life is a good place to start.
You don’t have to have any experience to run a successful business. For many small businesses, it’s more about an outgoing personality, but we’ve broken even that outdated paradigm. We used to think only extroverts could be successful in business, but introverts have come a long way.
Either way, you will have to know yourself well enough to find support for your shortcomings.
These five guidelines are a good place for you to start thinking about your preemptive venture. You can think of them as the five F’s, but that wasn’t intentional. Okay, it was.
Follow Your Obsession
Shouts to Kafka on this one; I thought it was my original idea. They say, “If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.” I say that’s misguided advice.
If you do what you love, then you will quickly stop loving that thing. It’s not guaranteed you’ll come to hate your former love, but it’s a risk. Are you willing to turn your passion into something you must do?
There are few things I like doing longer than a couple of hours. Even a good time can get old. Instead, chase something you do whether they would pay you or not, the things over which you obsess, activities they have to pull you from to get your attention.
Fit Your Life
You might take from that last section that you should play basketball professionally because you just can’t… quit… ballin’.
The problem isn’t your obsession. It’s your two inch vertical. You don’t have the talent, but don’t despair. You can find something to do with making money and basketball that doesn’t require you to go pro.
You could sell balls and gear, maybe just collector’s items or rent out gear at the local park.
There are a million ways you can stay close to your obsession which revolve around that activity. Get creative. Make a list. Consider many of your ideas.
Fill A Need
To find success your business has to fill a need. If you open the third basketball gear rental shop on the block, you’ll only have a few moves to out-sell the existing businesses.
It’s not impossible, but harder if you can avoid trying to enter an existing market. That said, if the two shops already there suffer from bad service, you could carve out a niche by offering better service.
You may also find that those shops don’t have access to the sweet gear at your disposal. Be wary of playing the better price game. Unless you’re Wal-mart, it’s a tough game to win.
These factors all must go into your considerations. Whatever you do, don’t try to replicate what already exists. There are whole books dedicated to discovering needs in any market. Take your time with this step.
Find The Right Location
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a brick and mortar. If your business is even partially dependent on walk-in traffic, then a cheap location away from foot traffic will make your life hell.
Whatever you do, don’t let expense be your only guide. A low overhead is good, but not if you suffer a dearth of walk-in traffic. Don’t overlook a good deal, though. It’s possible to find them in developing areas.
Whether you buy your space or rent it, doing so may be hard at first, but will pay off when the traffic increases. By then, you’ll have the corner on the market.
Take your time to find the right place. Consider ten times the number of locations you think you need to consider.
Forget About Earnings
Nobody goes into business to lose money or break even. Even the most altruistic business owners hope to profit and soon, but then there’s reality. Businesses take time to find their momentum, sometimes years.
If your livelihood depends on hitting the ground running, perhaps now is not the time. The exception is if you have a large marketing budget. Even then there are no guarantees.
In any case, you can’t work for money. You’ll work because you have to. This is your obsession. They couldn’t stop you if they tried.
Run your business like that and you won’t have time to count all the money you’re making. Just make sure you have some scratch set aside to weather the first two years.
There are a million good books out there on how to open a successful business. You should read at least three of them.
If you don’t know where to start, grab something from the “for dummies” series. Those books are the encyclopedias of learning how to do things. They dive just deep enough to get you what you need to know, but not so deep you drown in boredom.
Opening a business is risky, but less risky if you follow good advice.