By Nilooka Dissanayake,ACMA,MBA(Strathclyde)
I’d like to start a business. How and where do I begin?
This is a question I hear often. And I hear it from so many men and women from such diverse walks of life that I am beginning to believe starting one’s own business is as common a dream as the so called “American Dream.”
Dream you may, but if you did not inherit a business and have been doing something other than business all your life, not knowing where to begin is the key stumbling block in your path to entrepreneurship. What you need is, to borrow words of Kipling, to “dream and not make dreams your master.” That is, you need to take action to make your dream come true.
Easy to say, did I hear you mutter under your breath? Yes. Easy to say but very hard to do. Especially when self doubts raise their ugly heads and ask difficult questions: Do I have what it takes to succeed in the business world? What if I fail? What am I letting myself in for?
That is not the end of it. Once you conquer your own devils, there are more practical questions to answer. People keep talking of good business opportunities. How do you find one for yourself? If you find an opportunity, how can you tell if it is a good one? A business requires finance. How can you get money? From where? How much money do you need anyway? And you will have to find a market for your business. How do you do that? How do you find customers? How do you promote your business? Then, there is business planning and cashflows; balance sheets and profit statements. What do you know of all this?
Is that how you feel? Still you want to go into business for yourself? Why not? Do not be discouraged. We will be there to guide you. That is the objective of this new column titled “A Business@Home” We mean to provide articles to help people like you who are dreaming of going into business on their own.
Business is a starnge country. You have to learn the language of business, it’s customs and practices. All you need to be is sharp and alert. You also need to be ready to learn. And once you get started, you will find your way through. So, back to square one, where do we begin?
Over the next weeks we will help you grapple with the following issues:
- Are you an entrepreneur? What does it take to succeed in business?
- How do I choose a business idea?
- How do I know it is profitable?
- How do I know if it is the right one for me?
- Finance and financial statements (for non accountants)
- Marketing the small business
- And many more things
I would like to make this column as interactive as possible. Please share your views, questions and concerns.
Please note that this is the first article in the Business@Home column in the Financial Times. (2002 May).