Part 25: Starting It Right

By K.C. See

The initial starting point for any business is typically the most challenging phase. A new entrepreneur has to grapple with numerous issues and particularly if you are working all by yourself. You ended as the CEO, the CFO and the CMO all rolled into one.If you are smart entrepreneur, you would have done extensive research and craft out a plan backed with a Plan B and may be even a Plan C. Even then business is dynamic and the real world will not always follow in accordance with your plan. You will need to change directions and strategies, as the market changes.The less experienced entrepreneur may crumple under the pressures and make decisions that might only further deepen the initial crisis. I have seen that happen too often and while the business idea might be a good one but the implementation falls short. Not only the market might not to react to your product or services as you expected ; you might also get internal problems ranging from partners disagreements to staff retention issues to  suppliers non-delivery to cash flow problems. They seems to come all at the same time.
After you read this paragraph you begin to wonder it is a good idea to quit that job and “do your own thing”. May be I went too much in one direction; the pessimistic outlook. On the other hand if you get it right, starting a business is exciting and especially if you are doing what you love. It gives you a high and its a lot better than going to work every day to a job that you have no passion for or that  you find is not meaningful and you dread going to work every day. You will enjoy the freedom and the ability to put your creativity into play. You  become your own boss and that is the ultimate dream of many young enterprising person.But you have to start it right.
There are a number of things you need to do to start it right and here are three of the many suggestions I can give you;

Get an experienced mentor or a partner into your business.
You need one if you have little or no experience. However how to go about getting the right person to guide you is another issue. It is essential that you take time to list down what you want and the quality of the person you are looking for. Once you know what you want you need to go out to the business world, explore, network and connect with people to enlarge your options. You are not likely to find that person in your present circle of friends if you are a new entrepreneur and you don’t mix around with business people much.
Of course the next question is how to get the person to be interested to want to into a business with you or to mentor you. As I have always share with my students; nobody will do anything for you unless doing it meet their own needs. Don’t get me wrong; I am not talking about materialistic needs. I know a number of experienced business people who are willing to help young entrepreneurs just to fulfill their need to contribute to the betterment of others.
What you need to work on is how to get the person to want to work with you. I believe you must have a compelling vision that would excite him, and enthusiasm that would infect him, a personality that would he would be comfortable with and a willingness to learn and that requires humility.

You need to do sufficient research and have a plan.
It may not be necessary that you write up an extensive detailed business plan, unless you are vying for funding or an award. I am more inclined toward  business modelling as a must-do for any new business.
What kind of research do we need to do, you may ask? I am not suggesting that you engage a research company to do that although that would be nice if you have the funds. It could be the basic “go-out-there-and-talk-to-people” type of research. However you need to talk to the ‘right’ people and you must word your questions correctly. You should talk to the people who are your potential target market. Recently I was working with one of my mentee who wanted to start a confinement home. I help him craft out a simple research questionnaire and he got 65 respondents who has either themselves or their spouse given birth or about to; to give him feedback. The information he got is invaluable to crafting his business model and plan.
Talking about research; a good friend of mine, Teoh Poh Yew shared this joke with me; ”Copy one thing is call copy. Not a good thing. Copy many things is called research and that might be good.” Steve Jobs do a lot of “research” in the early years of Apple.

Build the right team of people around you.
The key word is “leverage” and that means “finding people who have what you don’t have”. I got my students to use my R.I.C.E formula; Resources which refers to Time and Money, Ideas, Contacts and Expertise. You need all these five components to increase the chances of success. It does not mean that you have to have all them become your business partners. Some of these contributors can be your outsource “partners”. Some you can employ and some of these components could possibly be provided by your mentor. Once again; it is unlikely that your present circle of friends would be able to cover all that. The solution is obvious; network and make more friends.

This three ideas are just something to start with and it is by no means complete. However it would be food for thought before you jump in.

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