5 Essentials you need to get right before starting a business

5 Essentials you need to get right before starting a business

You need to have a product

The ability and resources to produce what you are selling is obviously essential. Don’t go out there and win a tender then start figuring out how you are going to fulfill it. That’s for tenderpreneurs and they aren’t building a business, they’re just feeding from the trough. Subcontracting can work and certainly subcontracting part of your offering can make a lot of sense, but you do need a core that is entirely yours.

You need to have a market. When I lived in Wakkerstroom, there was a guy who had retired with a bit of cash (we called him John Tunnel, because just about every other guy in Wakkerstroom seemed to be called John). He got this notion that if he built tunnels (you know those rounded plastic affairs?) and a hydroponic system, he could grow all sorts of stuff for the market. He built his tunnels and his hydroponics and grew a whole load of lettuces which he couldn’t sell (Wakkerstroom is not exactly close to any decent sized city), then he grew tomatoes, then cucumbers, then peppers, then he died, never having found a market for anything that he grew. So, don’t choose or develop a product and then hope you can find a market for it. Find out what people want and can’t get, then bring it to them.

Then you need to connect the two and this is the tricky bit. It’s called marketing. You have a product that people want and you have people who want your product, but how to bring them together? There’s the broad approach - billboards, flyers, adverts, facebook where you hope that when someone sees your ad it will be just at the time that they’re ready to buy your product. Then, and somewhat similar, there’s the branding approach (think of Coca Cola) where you build your brand so that it sticks in peoples heads and when they want your product (a cool drink), they automatically think of you. This one is usually expensive and takes a long time. Then there’s the approach “If people want my product, where will they look? That’s where I need to be”. And where do most people look? Google, Gumtree, Bidorbuy, probably in that order. You can advertise on these sites and, depending on the quality of your advert and the website that it points to, this can be a very cost effective approach.

You will need cash hopefully not too much, but enough to buy a shelf company, a computer, raw materials, the essentials. Then at least enough to survive while it is getting off the ground. Ideally, your spouse is working and can maintain the family in the meantime. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you both to stop work to start a new business.

Finally, you need passion. You can’t play at business, it must be all consuming. If you think there’s easy money out there, forget it. You have to fight to win.

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