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How to cultivate and grow a start-up business

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Thought is the original source of all wealth, all success, all material gains, all great discoveries and inventions, and all achievements " If you've thought of starting a business which will make life easier or fulfill the unfulfilled needs of the people in any way, then you can be an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur undertakes and pursues opportunities and fulfills needs and wants of people through innovation. He/she innovates and combines resources in the form of men, materials and money, bringing them together, making the business venture profitable. If you've got Passion, Perseverance and Patience (3P's), then you could mould yourself into a successful entrepreneur. You must adopt a positive mental attitude and visualise yourself as self-employed which will enable you to develop the highly independent, self responsible, self starting entrepreneurial mentality.

"Well begun is half done ". Begin, on a positive note, by deciding which business you would really love doing and dedicate yourself to that field. You're going to devote a lot of time and energy in starting a business and building it into a successful enterprise, so it's really important that you truly deeply enjoy what you do. In addition to your interests and experience, your personality and abilities play a major role in determining what kind of business is best suitable for you. You'll have to consider whether there's a good demand for the product or services you're going to offer your clients. If your product or services saves times, reduces efforts, reduces costs or betters the life of your clients, then it's most likely to have a major impact on the market. You must also study the market trends and evaluate related opportunities which are least tapped and have a high scope of growth in future.

At the same time, you must be aware of the various risks involved i.e. competition, financial obstacles, etc. It's here that your entrepreneurial mindset comes into play. You must accept 100 per cent responsibility for whatever you are, and whatever you'll ever be. From now you're the 'captain of your ship' and 'master of your fate'. Once you've accepted this responsibility, you become intensely result oriented and take higher levels of initiative.

Once you've finalised the nature of business opportunity you wish to explore, prepare a business plan which is the formal written expression of the entrepreneurial vision, describing the strategy and operations of the proposed venture. To estimate the total start-up costs of your business, calculate how much money you need to start your business and cover your basic living expenses. Depending on your financial position, decide how much you can invest in this venture. If you've restricted funds, then start small, spreading your money between living expenses and business start-up costs, and gradually expand using the funds generated from the business. If you've a shortfall of capital, you can borrow funds from family members, close friends, etc. Loans like venture capital, business loans, project loans, are available, but it's advisable to avoid loans as it's very difficult to avail such facilities when you're new to the markets, and loans come attached with many clauses and conditions, which have to be reviewed by legal experts, to safeguard your interests, and it's highly unlikely that you'll afford these costs, initially.

If you've graduated from a management school, then you're fortunate to have incubators for your ideas and a business ecosystem around you, which will make life easier. Else you need a support system while starting a business (and afterwards). A family member or friend whom you can bounce ideas off and who'll listen patiently is invaluable. Meanwhile, you'll have to start building a team, who'll share your responsibilities, and network with you. Get professional help, whenever required. Learn what your legal and tax responsibilities are before you start your business and operate accordingly.

After start-up, it's your responsibility to put the business plan into action. You'll definitely not become a millionaire, overnight. It's here that the real test of a entrepreneur begins. Don't wait for things to happen, make things happen. Get customers first. Don't wait until you've officially started because your business can't survive without them. Do the networking. Make the contacts. You'll have to put in long hours of work, start early and try to make optimal use of every minute you work. You may have to work late, sometimes even at night, especially in the initial stages. Be professional from the beginning. Use professional business cards, business phone and email / website, and treat people in a professional, courteous manner.

Aim at being among the top 10 per cent in your industry. It's difficult, but be motivated by the fact that the top 10 per cent today, started off in the bottom 10 per cent. Publicity and advertising will go a long way in positioning your business. You need to become an expert in your industry, products and services, if you're not already. You need to learn every aspect of your business and get better every day, by reading all related magazines, studying latest books, attending courses, seminars and forums by the experts in your field, by joining related industry or professional associations. Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.

You will break-even when you recover basic costs of doing business. If your income is more than that, the business is profitable. When profits start pouring in, practice frugality and be careful of every penny. Examine all expenditures and purchases. You should save and invest at least 10 per cent of your profits and reinvest the balance in your business.

Businesses are based on the principles of trust, honesty, dependability, self-discipline, and dedicated customer service. Follow these and you'll soon climb the ladder of success. Surely, it'll not be a cake walk. With the passion to accomplish your vision, you should persist in the face of adversity, never give up and patiently await your success.

Remember, St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”


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