You should never start a business _________.
Fill in that blank with any popular excuse and you end up with what I like to call “permission to fail”.
So what is the “best time to start a business”? Google has 124 million answers for that search term!
Have you ever heard someone say…
I can’t start a business because I already work 40 hours a week.
I can’t start a business without someone backing me financially.
I can’t start a business because I don’t know if my idea will work.
I can’t start a business until the economy improves.
So ditch the excuses. Find the time. Do the work.
As an overview, there are 3 main phases of starting a business.
Phase I: Research and Education
Read. Read everything you can pertaining to your business. Find out how others succeeded. What made some fail? Don’t try to be an expert in everything. But knowing the pieces you will need to launch are important. For example, you might need an accountant to do your tax return. However, you don’t need to learn how to be an accountant just so you can do your taxes yourself.
Determine where money will need to be spent. (Hint: Spend it on things that are designed to make you money or impact your customers in a positive way.) Find ways to save money on lesser needed equipment, software, personnel. What can be had for free? What equipment can wait? What can be leased short-term? Can you borrow any resources?
Research is free. Do the leg work now so you can launch in Phase III. Determining how much money you will need to fully launch is started in Phase I and tweaked in Phase II once you get some real-world feedback.
Join associations, forums, blogs, or podcasts from successful people in your line of business. Don’t believe EVERYTHING you come across. But find out how different people operate within your field to find good ideas or ways to improve your offering.
Phase II: Pre-Launch
Don’t skip Phase I.
Find ways to test your market. How can you sell your product without going “all in” just yet? Can you give away or sell a beta product to a select group?
Do the work in your spare time. Don’t quit your job, yet. Your most profitable resource might be your current job. Assuming you don’t abuse your time or resources of your current job, there shouldn’t be a problem. Eliminate the overhead of a full scale business so you can test a stripped down version of your full-blown idea.
If you can’t sell your idea to a few people, maybe your idea isn’t ready for the masses.
Your desire to provide a product or service does not mean people will buy it.
What problems will you solve for your customers? How will you improve someone’s way of life? What are the hurdles for someone buying your idea? Price? Availability? Is this new? Will you need to educate them? Will they have a reason to switch to you over their current provider?
Phase III: Customer Sales
Don’t’ skip Phase II.
If you have done the research and pre-launched your idea, then you should be ready to start! Watch costs. Use the free or low cost resources you found in Phase I until there is a justifiable need to move to more costly tools.
Is it time to quit your job or continue working in tandem? There might be a period of time where you will be working like a dog. But be sure to have a plan to work out of that. Don’t just assume it will happen one day.
If your business needs employees, start small. Employees can be one of your largest expenses of time and money. Add them only as needed.
Do everything in your power to improve your customer experience. Treat valuable customers like gold and eliminate customers that drain your every ounce of energy, time and money…it is YOUR business.
Don’t give yourself “permission to fail”. Be decisive and start your business on schedule. Have the research and launch steps in place. Keep in mind you might need to pivot in the early stages to compliment your customers’ needs or reactions to your business.
Bottom Line: Do something you enjoy. Make a profit. Benefit your customers.