I really admire you for wanting to own your own business! It's a venture that takes real courage. Here are a few thoughts to consider, based on 18 years working with franchisees of the company I helped build:
1. When you own your own business, the actual work
of the business is only the beginning -- you also have to manage
the whole operation, from taxes to accounts receivable to human resources to liability insurance and on and on and on. Be sure you or your partner are willing and able to deal with all these vital issues, or that you can afford to hire (and know enough to manage) someone competent and trustworthy to handle them for you.
2. With most startups, you need to be prepared to take not a penny
out of the business for at least a full year. That means you need to have your living expenses and operating expenses for that year covered by a loan, savings, or reliable income. If you don't have that kind of funding available, choose a business whose upfront investment you can
handle -- because getting in over your head financially is the quickest way to fail. You can do everything else right, but if the money isn't there, the doors close.
3. If there's a good business management course offered near you, take it before you begin. It could be invaluable in helping you create the kind of thorough and realistic business plan that can prevent disaster.
4. Before you commit funds to a new business, do all the research you can think of -- seek out other businesses similar to it in the area and learn all you can about them. Look into all the suppliers you'll need to count on and know their rates and their capabilities. Study the demographics of the area you'll serve, select the zip codes you'll market to, and find out what a good current mailing list for those zip codes will cost you. If you'll be renting space, seek out potential locations and find out what the terms are, what build-out (including data lines and any special venting or drainage requirements) will cost, and what restrictions may exist on your permanent and temporary signage. Study all the various media by which you may want to market your business and know what demographic each one reaches, and for how much per impression. In short, try to anticipate every cost, problem, and opportunity you'll face. (This will all be part of your business plan.)
And the big one:
5. Choose work that you enjoy -- but bear in mind that in most businesses, you will soon have to give up nearly all of that work to employees. As the owner, you will need to be out networking, building and maintaining client relationships, and raising positive awareness of your business throughout your community. You'll need to become an ambassador
for your business -- so if you were a caterer, for example, you would need to spend a lot more time making presentations to corporate event planners than making creme brulee.
If you aren't comfortable doing that, then your partner needs to be -- because if one of you can't fill that role, your chances of success are greatly diminished. And it's extremely rare to find an employee who can even begin
to represent your business for
you -- it's never the same level of commitment on the employee's part, and it doesn't have the same effect on the people you're marketing to. They want to see your face
and know that you personally
stand behind every job you do for them.
So at least one
of the owners has to be out in the community, building the customer base and the public image. This is the single most important thing to know about small-business entrepreneurship.
I emphasize this because not doing it
was the root cause of very nearly every
store failure I saw in all my years of working with over 400 locally-owned stores around the world.Of course, these issues will vary with the kind of business you go into -- but most of them will apply to one degree or another in any venture.
One last thing (because this is one of my specialties): Don't scrimp on your business's ID materials -- logo, tagline, business cards, signage, vehicle graphics, brochures, mailers, print and broadcast ads, jingles, everything. Be certain your business name and tagline are memorable and clearly define what you do. Be certain your logo carries not the slightest whiff
of amateurism, or people will assume your work is amateurish, too. And make sure every piece of advertising you use reflects the level of quality you want your customers to expect from your business.
Sheesh, I'm longwinded! Okay, I'm shutting up now.