Some women retire from corporate America and find endless ways to pursue interesting hobbies, and others toy with the idea of starting a business. I’ve heard dreams of stores, restaurants, yoga salons, tutoring services, and much more—but far fewer well-researched ideas.
A few years ago I asked a group of business owners to speak to budding entrepreneurs. These women owned an accounting firm, a landscape design firm, a communications consultancy, a retail store, an at-home children’s clothing business and a health club. They all had this very good “look before you leap” advice:
- Expect to work harder than you ever have in the past.
- Prepare to be a risk taker.
- Speak to other entrepreneurs—carefully research the do’s and don’t’s of owning your own business.
- Keep your business idea simple. Make sure that you can communicate your product or service in one simple sentence.
- Don’t assume that every business idea is viable. A solid client base will require more than a handful of enthusiastic fans.
- Don’t try to cater to the masses. Make sure that your business has its own customer niche.
- Make sure that you can give customers a good reason to spend money in this economy.
- Create a business around a product or service you will be passionate about selling.
- Identify what needs and gaps your business will serve.
- Write a business plan. Even if you never actually use it, it will help you organize your thoughts, assess the competition, develop marketing strategies and set—and stick to—goals.
- Be realistic about start-up costs and timing. It could take significant time for you to turn a profit or break even.
- Make double and triple sure your business has the potential to be profitable in this economy. If not, what starts out as a passion could turn into a ball and chain.
- Determine if your other sources of income or savings will carry you through the start-up and poor cash flow periods.
- Assess whether you have a good balance of creativity and management. More than one great idea has been killed by poor management.
- Consider business partners who can and will invest time and money equally in the business.