By: Aimee Shaw
Are you contemplating putting that awesome business idea into action this year but too scared to take the leap of faith?
Getting started is often the hardest part, according to Kiwi small business owners.
Sharlene Barnes, founder of Advert Media, says feel the fear and “do it anyway”.
“It is pretty scary starting your own business but you’ve really got nothing to lose,” Barnes says. “If you’ve got an idea, don’t just sit on it.”
Be prepared to work hard
Doing your research and getting advice from those in the sector you want to get into is the best way forward, Nuzest New Zealand director Geoff Ashenden says.
He also warns to be prepared to work harder than ever before.
“Be prepared to work really long hours – for a long time – and make sure you have enough funding to keep you and your business going for at least a couple of years.”
If you don’t love it, it won’t work
The Rubbish Whisperer founder Helen Rupp says passion is important when starting and running your own business.
“Do something you really like, that you really want to do, because it takes a while to grow and so it’s important to do something you feel strongly about.”
Business Mentors New Zealand general manager Lisa Ford agrees.
“You’ve got to be passionate because you’re going to be spending your life living and breathing this business, but you have to make sacrifices to get there,” she warns. “I always chuckle when people say ‘I’m going to start a business as a lifestyle change’… working 80 hours or more on this, you are going to have to sacrifice time with your family, manage the risks, and consider if is your family behind what you’re doing – you’ve got to really consider the implications.”
Test, validate your idea
Doing thorough research and talking to people about your idea is the best way to test and identify your target market, Ford says.
“Work out if there is a market for it. If you’re looking at the next great idea you have to make sure you’ve got a customer,” she says. “We always ask people to test their ideas. Although you think you’ve come up with the latest great discovery, you need to validate it.
“Is it a problem or solution fit or a product and market fit? Validate the idea and make sure there is a customer out there.”
Get your business plan in check
Jess Daniell, head chef and founder of Jess’ Underground Kitchen, says business plans are helpful, but not as valuable as getting on with the job.
“Write a business plan and then rip it up. Write another business plan and then rip that one up. Start again, follow your passion, and let the business plan write itself because you can prep and prepare until the cows come home but until you launch your business and see what people want, and what direction people want your business to take, you really can’t push it in the direction you want if it’s just not going to work,” Daniell says.
“Sometimes you have to let things happen organically.”
But Ford says a plan should be written before starting a business.
“Write your business plan but keep adjusting your business plan with the trends you’re seeing in the marketplace,” she says.
Be persistent, success is rarely overnight
Persistence is key, says Vrinda Sharma, co-owner of New Plymouth-based franchisee cleaning company CrestClean.
“In the beginning when everything is new it can be really hard but you have to stick at it,” Sharma says. “If you’ve decided on, or started something, stick at it – even if its failing at the beginning – for at least six months, and have patience.”
Ford says most businesses don’t break even within the first two years.
“You’ve got to be mindful that you’re not going to be earning a huge amount of money while you are getting established,” she says.
“You’ve got to put together a plan that says if you’re not breaking even by this [certain] point then you need to evaluate what you’re doing.”
Every opportunity is an experience, lesson
Fashion Fairground founder and personal stylist Stacey Gillies says getting involved or working on a project is a beneficial experience.
“Take every opportunity to get involved in a project or job to get the experience and find out if you even enjoy it. Just give it a go and see what happens,” he says. “I found starting a blog was a great way to get my name out there as it enabled me to take on opportunities and I had something to show people – like a CV of work.”
Won’t work if you don’t give it a go
Huski co-founder Simon Huesser believes people should give running their own business a go startup if they have a neat idea.
“If you think you’ll regret not trying it, go for it. And with the tools available today, there has never been an easier, faster, or cheaper time to explore whether your idea has potential or not.”
Having a social media presence is also a must, Ford says.
“We’re in an age now where if people are looking to purchase something everyone Google’s it,” she says. “If people don’t know where to find you, where you are, what your product is, then you’re not in business.”
Source: NZ Herald