Opening a Small Business

What is this really going to take?

I’m New at This – Am I Qualified to be Opening a Small Business?

Smart move by reading this article!  It says that you are a person who likes to do your homework before you jump into something new, such as opening your own business.  A new business venture is exciting, rewarding, and fun, but the goal is to keep it that way for a long time, and not for it to fizzle out with financial loss quickly.

So how do you make your own business successful?

It starts with getting the basics done thoroughly, of course.  You need a good idea, a solid business plan, funding, and lots of people relationships with energy.  But there is more than just the basics.  All of these new business components are great, but what makes a new business successful, really successful, goes beyond the basics.  There is secret sauce behind every successful business.  In other words, you are qualified to opening your own small business, if you are also thinking beyond the basics to make your own business succeed.

How do you go beyond the business basics?

There are eight questions that you should be asking, but all of these your answers to these questions must be based on a popular, but often neglected, paradigm shift.  This paradigm shift is to think outside-in and avoid inside-out thinking.   Even the best business plans in the world will fail if you stop thinking outside-in.  Outside-in thinking is to always put your view as if it was the view of the other person.  The most important other person is your customer, of course, but it could also be a partner, supplier, distributor, and your employees.  Their view must be considered, and if they are paying they are probably right.  Building a business on what may be best for you, or inside-out thinking, will eventually put off the people that you are trying to work with, especially your customers.

But there is a catch to outside-in thinking.  Sometimes the people you are working with need innovation.  For example, when Henry Ford listened to customers that needed a faster horse, he didn’t go out and try to figure ways to improve horse nourishment to make them faster or to go longer distances.  Instead, he created the car, which is an innovation far better than any potential a faster horse could offer.  So, yes, outside-in listening and understanding of your customers and the people you work with, but also be creative with innovation in meeting their needs.

So, with outside-in thinking as the founding principle of what makes good ideas with innovation, here are eight questions that you should be asking that can help move your business to become successful:

    1. What problem am I trying to solve?
      This should be one of your most popular questions that you are asking all the time.  In every conversation, meeting and phone call, ask yourself what problem you are trying to solve.  If there is no problem, then you don’t need to find a solution.  If there is a problem, then consider multiple options for a solution that fit within the current processes and structure of your business.


  • How big is the problem and what is the true local demand for the “solution?”


Your business was started because you had an idea that is intended to meet the needs of your customers.  But are all of the problems that you are solving really that important to your customers?  If you were to think outside-in and be a customer of your business, what would you say?


  • Am I proposing to add value or being temporally opportunistic?


This question helps bring you to reality.  Do you know what the opposite of reality is? … Fantasy!  Now fantasy is not a bad thing for certain situations, but it is a very bad thing for business.  Be realistic, and honest with yourself about what valuable needs you are meeting with your business.


  • What is the startup cost vs. the total cost of ownership?


There are always two ways to look at things, and that includes how you look at your business.  Startup costs usually end up being higher than your revenues in the beginning.  There are investments in infrastructure and goods that can be amortized over time.  However, the total cost of business is your real operating cost, which can be measured over periods of time.  Run your business based on the real total cost of ownership, and don’t become pulled by high start-up costs into making poor decisions.


  • How long will it take me to get to critical mass and can I accelerate this?


Critical mass is that point in your business that you go from pushing hard to get your business going, to encouraging the business as it runs on its own.  Take some time to define critical mass for your business, perhaps based on a profit value, a daily revenue number, or perhaps the number of employees, but then push toward your critical mass to achieve it.


  • Am I trying to move away from something I’m dissatisfied with now or am I running to an opportunity?


Your business needs you to be motivated, and for the right reasons.  If you have the wrong reasons for starting a business, a negative tone will carry forward throughout all aspects of the business; so get this right!


  • What makes me credible?


In other words, is your business credible?  Now, it’s not your opinion that matter here; it’s everyone else’s opinion, so you need to find ways to get this question answered from all your stakeholders, and then act on it if correction is needed.  Keep in mind that over 80% of business owners think they deliver quality services and products, but only 8% of customers surveyed thought the same.  Find your gap and close it.


  • Am I ready to sign up for the commitment, lifestyle, and results of competition? What is my tolerance level for change?


Starting your own business also has many personal life implications.  It can take many hours, with emotional frustrations, anxiety, and hardship in some cases.  These things can affect the people around you.  Make sure to develop a balanced lifestyle that works with your business.

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