I have met young people who ask me, how they can set up a business, where to start and basically how to turn their ideas into a company/business that will offer a certain product or service to fulfill a certain need targeted at a certain market. Here’s a six step process to help you turn your idea into a business.
1. Take a deep breath and ask yourself if you are truly ready to go into a business
Before you venture out and start a business, you need to ask yourself whether you’re set for the rough terrain that awaits you. Don’t quit your job because it’s a 7am to 7pm job to go into business! Don’t also go into business thinking clients will walk in the first day you open your office or after the launch! It’s tough in business but you always get paid for it! Better still, you are always building your future day by day! So if you put in 15 hours a day in future you’ll have more time for kids, husband/wife, travel and leisure in future. Business always pays you back the time you invested in it in folds! Don’t deceive yourself.
2. Identify your strengths & Passion
This is a self analysis! Don’t lie to yourself. If you can’t do reports, accounts, sales or marketing, handle social media etc you need to put that down because you’ll need to hire people to complement your skills. Look at the past, how you performed on role X in company Y, you may also ask your genuine friends what they think you’re good at. Better still haters and critics will always tell you lame stuff so use their feedback too to understand yourself better.
3. Create a niche market out of your strength
Don’t be a general merchant, at least when you’re starting out! Most of us want to do as many things, provide many services to tap into a wider client base but for start-ups don’t do it this way! Clients want to work with experts and specialists so establish yourself as a specialist in a specific area. It’s tempting to add more services to your list for short term financial gains but that doesn’t develop or grow your brand as a company. Simply ask yourself “What do I want to be known for?” Finally do ensure you also work on your personal brand, remember you’ll be the face of the company! Never start a business just because you think there is money in that industry (Many Kenyans do that by the way: What Conrad Akunga calls your M-vitus) but set up a business you understand well! If you love cakes, enjoy doing pastry and most important ensure you know how to do it nicely then go into the business of making cakes.
4. Research into the field
This is basically the SWOT analysis – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat, Competitors etc of the business. This is critical, check out for your strengths as a company (internal) Weakness; be honest with yourself. Threats are external, so check that out too and so are competitors. Just do this research to know what you’re up to.
5. Map out your strategy
This is basically where you want to be and how you’ll get there; basically planning. Do a long term strategic plan, (over 5 years), Midterm (3 to 5 years) and a short term strategic plan for 1 to 2 years. This is critical; never launch a company without a plan! You need to have a mission, vision, core values, objectives and all that to ensure you stick to your game plan in future! Having a mission ensures you understand why you exist as a company, having a vision ensures you know where you’re going or where you want to be. Core values guide you, create the corporate culture of the entity and such. Having your strategy broken down into SMART objectives ensures your day to day activities tie into the overall strategy of the firm.
6. Execute your action plan.
This is the hardest bit for most of us! We just don’t do what we have been planning! It could be procrastination, fear of failure, lack of funds etc. Reasons vary from one person to the other but most of them are excuses. Start with the essentials, what you can’t do without! START, EXECUTE….JUST DO IT! You’ll learn on the way! Go into the market with the mind of rendering service, not making money. Don’t be scared to hurt your fingers – Yes, this is business. Some things would go wrong along the line, try to sort them out instead of quitting and don’t bite more than you can chew!
By Fridah Owinga