Designing your business for success comes long before you even think of having a business plan, or even understanding what a business plan is. So how can you define a successful business?
The best answer I can come up with is this: A successful business is one that delivers on your expectations and meets your needs.
That in turn means it is necessary to understand your own view of success first, if you're to have any hope of starting a successful business. After all, one person's motivation may be to start a corporate empire, another's to supplement their retirement income, and some, because they've just been retrenched and need a job. In each case it's not the business itself that defines success, but the founder's wants, needs and expectations.
You as an individual
Many people fall into the trap of starting a business for its glamour, its perceived profits or because it's a well-known franchise, and fail because they've overlooked the most important thing of all - your new business depends on your individual skills, experience and personality.
Some of the things you need to carefully examine are:
- Be honest with yourself about why you want to start a business. There are no right or wrong reasons, providing the business you want to start fits your motivation for doing so.
- Research what a particular business demands by way of skills - don't guess. If possible talk to others in similar businesses.
- Match your skills and experience to the requirements of the business. Be brutally honest with yourself - if you don't have the necessary skills, be prepared to employ somebody, outsource the work or get training. Once your business is running, you will be the key employee in your business, and you don't want to employ the wrong person!
- Explore the impact of your new business on your lifestyle. For example, if you have a young family, starting a business that needs to be open 14 hours a day, your lifestyle and family are likely to suffer.
- Consider the chores and tasks that you love - and absolutely hate. The thrill of a new business quickly disappears if you are always compelled to do those things you hate or are not good at.
Exploring one's self is usually very difficult, especially when reality risks getting in the way of your dream. If this is you, then it is best that you speak to an expert who is trained to ask the right questions. Your success may well depend on it.
The next article will look at you as an investor in your own business.
Ron Stark is the founder of Business Kits, a company specialising in helping new businesses before and during their crucial design and startup stage.