by Bob Adams, serial entrepreneur and founder of BusinessTown.com
Many people toy with the idea of starting a business but hesitate to actually take the plunge and go out on their own. There are many reasons that people are held back from starting their own business.
One of the most common reasons that keeps people from starting a business is that they don’t feel comfortable about starting a business in a field in which they don’t have related experience. You don’t necessarily need experience – I successfully started many businesses without any experience, including a newspaper, a map publishing business, a bicycle rental business, a boat brokerage firm, and a book publishing company.
There are a lot of small businesses that you can teach yourself. Many good businesses you can start are just plain simple and you can learn how to operate them very quickly. Common examples include: lawn care, house cleaning, dog walking, house painting, tutoring and personal training. While these businesses are not glamorous, they are always in high demand. You can make a lot of money with even a simple business idea.
Financial risk is another reason that keeps people from starting their own business. This can be a very valid reason. However, the amount of money that you will risk will vary tremendously from one business to the next. Many businesses you can start under $10,000 and some businesses you can start for just about nothing. For example, I started a map business with almost no money by getting customers to pre-pay to have their advertisements included on the map.
But you need to do out a budget and include the cost of your living expenses until the business starts to provide solid cash flow. Often people underestimate how long it will take a business to start bringing in money. A simple local service business is going to produce positive cash flow a lot sooner than a new product business, for example.
One way to save a lot of money in starting a business is to run it out of your home. There are many excellent businesses that can be operated from home. Examples include jewelry making, art lessons, freelance writing, graphic design, and making gift baskets. The internet has opened up new, home-based business opportunities too. For example, you could start a social media business, developing and executing social media outreach for local businesses.
The great thing about a home business is the lower overhead. Not only do you avoid paying rent, but you avoid what can often turn into the “hidden” costs of a commercial space such as higher expenses for insurance, taxes, parking, electricity, build-out and more. Furthermore, a commercial space usually requires you to commit to a multi-year lease which adds to the financial risk if your business doesn’t work out as planned.
Still another reason people hesitate to start a small business is that they are reluctant to quit their day job. This is a very legitimate concern and I recommend that for most situations (i.e. if you are not starting a highly complex business) that you try to keep your day job and start a part time business.
Plan out your business carefully in your spare time and get really comfortable with your concept and your business plan before you get ready to launch. Even after you launch your business, I suggest you try to keep your day job. There are many great businesses that can be operated part-time, such as on the weekends.
Examples of good part-time businesses include garage clean-out, bartending service, floating art gallery, party planner, collectibles trading and test prep. One of the reasons it makes sense to start a business on the side is that it is difficult to predict how long it will take to be able to make a lot of money from your business. Often as you are starting a business you are testing different marketing approaches, ironing out problems and perfecting your product or service.
Finally, some people hesitate to start a business because the timing is not right. Waiting for a good time to start a business makes sense. Ideally you want to start a business from a position of strength, such as when you have a little money tucked aside, and not from a position of weakness, such as when you have been laid off from your job. On the other hand, if you wait for the “absolutely perfect” time to start a business you may never get it going.
There will be many factors that determine your ability to succeed in business, but one of the most important will be the business idea that you choose to pursue. Some ideas are much more likely to be successful than others. Some ideas you will find more fun. And some will be a better match for you. Starting a small business is your best route to making a lot of money today. There is no guarantee that your startup will be a winner. But by taking your time and carefully choosing which business idea to pursue, you will greatly increase your chances of success.
Bob Adams is a serial entrepreneur and founder of BusinessTown.com. BusinessTown is a video-driven website that provides how-to content to help people start, manage, and boost their own small businesses.