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Thinking about starting a business? Read this first.

Deciding to start your own business can feel like a big step and isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Though, in my opinion it is more rewarding and fulfilling than working for someone else. Before you get started though, the first step is to decide what type of business you want to run. This can often be one of the more difficult things to decide on. So here is our guide to figuring out what is best for you.

Start with what you know and let your experience be your guide

Start with what you know. If you have spent twenty years working as an marketing consultant or you
love to go to art galleries as a hobby, consider how you can take that experience and turn it
into a successful business.   Look around your workplace. Do you see needs that are going unmet or can you think of a better way of doing something? If so, you might have the seed for a profitable business.

Faster, Smarter, Cheaper, Better

Many first time entrepreneurs assume that they have to come up with a new business idea to be successful. That simply is not true. Most successful businesses are born not of innovation, but of necessity. Instead of trying to come up with an idea that changes the world, take a look at the world around you and see where there might be a void that needs filling or a business concept that needs improvement. Think about yourself as a customer or seller of a service or product and how you might be able to do it faster, smarter, cheaper or better.

In a competitive market you need to find a way to differentiate yourself. If you have an idea think about these four questions and brainstorm 20 ideas for each one to see which way feels right for you.

  1. How can you deliver a product or service or give value faster than anyone else
  2. How can you deliver products or services more efficiently than anyone else.
  3. How can you deliver a higher quality product or service than anyone else
  4. How can you deliver products or services cheaper than anyone else.

Many successful businesses have been built by taking a traditional business and making it
better. Domino’s Pizza was certainly not the first to offer home delivery of pizza, but they were
the first to guarantee it would be delivered piping hot to your door in 30 minutes or less.
Amazon.com was not the first company to sell books, but they were one of the first that would let
you buy books from the comfort of your own home while sitting in your underwear.

What is your motivation

Often women will have different motivations for starting their own business.  Work / life balance, flexibility, independence, personal satisfaction, AND to make money.  Getting rich is often not very high as one of their motivations.  It is worth identifying what your values are before you get started to help you understand what your success criteria will be.

Do what you love

It is important that you have a passion and connection to what you are doing.  You will increase your chances of success enormously if you find a business that excites you so much that you want to be doing it all the time.   Working in a business that you have no fire for can be extremely difficult and can even make you ill.  A friend of mine was a partner in a business that was really draining her.  She had compromised on her family life by not spending much time with her son and is now going through early menopause at the age of 39.  She has now stepped away from that business and feels like an enormous weight has been lifted from her shoulders and is pursuing her own dream to create a consultancy that helps businesses in crisis situations.  If you don’t enjoy what you do the business will become a chore, not a joy.

Find a niche – and own it!

Many businesses have gone broke trying to be all things to all people. The ability to offer a
millions of products under one roof is all well and good for Tescos, but not for most new small
businesses. Try to identify a niche that you would enjoy working in and think about the type of business that you could create. If you love to work outdoors, consider starting a landscaping business. If you
enjoy working with numbers, think about becoming an accountant or financial management consultant.

A couple of examples of people that I know that are doing this really effectively are Kirstin Gronning who has started her own business as a Divorce Coach.  She has powerfully used her own experience of going through a divorce and turned that into a successful niche business.

Using an already successful model – Franchising

Many new entrepreneurs consider buying a franchise operation instead of starting a business from scratch. Franchises are a good way to jumpstart the process because they have already done much of the hard work for you. They have proven the business model, established guidelines for running the business, spent millions of dollars on establishing the brand, etc. Buying a franchise is typically a very expensive and involved process that is beyond the scope of this article. The best thumbnail of advice I can give you is to thoroughly investigate the franchisor and the opportunity, use your own attorney to do the deal, and read the fine print in the franchise agreement.

Assess the competition and decide if you can find a place for yourself

If the business pool is already filled with other companies doing the same thing you want do, think about how you might be able to differentiate yourself.  Henry Ford has a great quote “A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one. ” Take this to heart.  Test your proposition to determine whether you can make yourself stand out and always try to be the best in your market.

… and finally, there is no rush

Whatever business you choose to start, Itake the time required to make an informed, intelligent decision. Think about whether you can start your business in your free time, while you still have your current job (and income) to fall back on. Talk to friends and associates who use the product or service you will provide to see if they would consider become paying customers.  Do your market research and put together your business plan as your road map to success.  Consider whether it makes sense to start small to test your idea and move into your business full-time when it can support you.  Finally, good luck and remember this “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” William Arthur Ward

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About Julie Hall

Hi, I'm Julie Hall, the founder of Women Unlimited. Which is my 4th business. I've had a business as a headhunter, a consultant, a new media agency and now finally Women Unlimited. I've learned lots of lessons - many of which could have been avoided. I hope you find the articles and stories on this website useful, and feel free to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

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