I recently visited a website for entrepreneurs. Most of these websites are merely extended ads for various vending machines, donut makers, carpet cleaning franchises and roofing processes. This one was designed for people who actually dream up and create their own businesses. The website I'm talking about is Startupnation.com and it's definitely for serious entrepreneurs only. People looking for a quick buck and easy start up home business should pass on this website and keep looking. Through a series of short articles and tutorials, Startup points out what it takes to get a unique and very successful small business off the ground.
I admire the fact that Startup pulls no punches. Anyone wanting to take the plunge into the world of real Entrepreneurs will quickly discover that there are simply no substitutes for careful planning and flawless execution. Startup is one of the best websites for entrepreneurs that I have ever visited. However, most of the innovative and successful entrepreneurs who manage to create and profit from a totally unique company, product or service, do so largely without the help of business consultants. That's because the very nature of the true entrepreneurial spirit is a personal one.
I have no doubt that the people involved with Startup and most any other competent business consultants can provide invaluable help and advice to anyone starting a business. However, most creative entrepreneurs have ideas that are unlikely to be implemented by using the normal process. Apple Computer and Martha Stewart Online are good examples of entrepreneurial companies that defied the process to get going and still mystify most of the traditional business world.
Business people tend to think in terms of recognizable products, services and ideas. The entire structure of funding, designing, manufacturing and marketing anything new is built around products and ideas that are basically recognizable. Someone may create a new type of shoe, but it's still a shoe. Were personal computers recognizable in the 1976 when Jobs and Wozniak created their first? No one in the mainstream business world knew how to design, build or market them. This didn't stop Steve Jobs from creating Apple Computer. He simply moved around all the obstacles by creating his own path.
When most people think of Martha Stewart, it's difficult for them to explain exactly what it is that she's selling. Sure, there's magazines, books and lots of designer household stuff, but what Martha is really selling is Martha! While I'm sure people at her company hate to think about it, it's hard to imagine MSO without Martha's magnetic and charismatic personality leading it. However, since no one lives forever, I'm sure that there is a plan already in place to keep the entire thing going long after Martha moves on to that great garden party in the sky. Marta Stewart created a unique business mold for the future and made it work.
Traditional funding, designing, manufacturing and marketing plans often do not work with unique products and services. What does work is the public's desire to buy them. If a market exists, there's got to be a way to get there. The key is knowing the expected size of the market. Despite my advice to the contrary, I have seen too many prospective business owners make classic mistakes. The biggest mistake is believing that you need an rented office or retail store to make you're new business work.
Jobs and Wozniak started Apple in a garage. Martha Stewart started her company in her own kitchen. Most very successful small and some very large companies started in a garage, apartment or basement. That's because the entrepreneurs involved knew the value of keeping it cheap. A new product or service has to be given time to grow. That growth can be cut short if non-essential bills for rented space or unnecessary frills overtake the startup budget. Having the passion to create a new business means also having the good sense to be sure your new product or service has a fighting chance to get to market.
Apart from making bad financial decisions, another quick new business killer is bad advice. If you have proof that the public wants and will eagerly buy your new product or service, do not allow anyone to steer you off the course. Life is full of people who make an art out of negativity. Many say NO just to say it. They automatically assume that everyone who refuses to fit into the traditional business mold will fail. If I listened to all the people who told me that it would be impossible for me to do something, I would never get out of bed in the morning. There are always going to be those who will write you off. As long as you don't write yourself off, there's a good chance for success.
Good advice is still essential to the creation of a new business. However, good advice doesn't always have to be paid or expensive advice. You would be surprised at the number of free resources available to someone trying to start their own business. The U.S. Small Business Administration online at http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/ has some painfully honest and helpful resources, including loans. It also pays to investigate any local clubs or gatherings where entrepreneurial businesspeople meet. There are always a few individuals willing to help mentor someone trying to get a new business off of the ground. However, it's wise to remember that no one will ever be as committed to your business idea as you.
When preparing a business plan, be flexible. Unexpected opportunities creep up when you least expect them. There are more then a few multi-millionaires out there who discovered they had a knack for doing something they hated and did it until they could fund their own business idea. If you discover a way to cash in on something else while trying to get your own unique product or service up and running, do not be afraid to take advantage of it. Anyone can put together the standard mom and pop store and have the doors open in a short period of time. Creating a business around a unique product or service is going to take a lot longer. You still have to eat and pay your bills while trying to make your dream com true.
Depending on your situation, it's unwise to expect your new business or product idea to be able to financially support you for some time. Have something to fall back on and be patient. Most great ideas take on a life of their own, travel at their own pace and require time to implement. Making quick decisions based on financial need is always a mistake. It's like people who take out a mortgage on their home to pay the unsecured debt on credit cards. If you do not pay your card bills, they'll send you nasty letters, ring your phone off the wall and damage your credit rating. However, you'll still have a place to live. It's all about making wise decisions that will move your business idea forward. Such decisions rarely help an entrepreneurs immediate financial situation.
Innovation, persistence, flexibility, common sense, patience and fiscal restraint are the best tools any potential new business owner can have. If you do not have those things, get them! Be prepared to travel on the road rarely taken and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Most new unique products or services are not an instant success. However, those in it for the long haul often see their business and financial dreams come true.