I'm 'consulting' with my son on an assignment he has due tomorrow for his business class at school. He has to come up with an idea for a business, give it a name, create a slogan for it, write a basic business outline, design an advertisement, and then prepare a ten minute verbal presentation. We discussed various ideas, why the things we discussed might or might not work in the marketplace, and tried to come up with something plausible.
I think we accomplished the goal. I realized, as I was discussing things with him, that I no longer have any interest in the sorts of businesses that might have appealed to me when I was younger and without the experience I have today. Those businesses lack a reasonable 'bang for the buck' ratio (that's not proper business jargon, I know, but it fits) and are generally too demanding of time, effort, and sweat. Mostly sweat. I am more interested in working with my mind these days, probably because it doesn't appear to perspire.
What struck me again is that there are a dozens of ways in which people can make money and have some degree of freedom. They might not get rich in the process, but they would be their own boss. That's worth a lot. Most people though, even if they think they might like to be in business for themselves, face some problems:
- They don't know what business to get into.
- If they do know what they would like to do, they don't know how to get started.
- They are paralyzed by fear. Fear of doing something new, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of dealing with a non-like-minded spouse.
Raise money? Why? Well, you still have to pay bills while you are building your business, don't you? There are rent or mortgage payments on your residence, utilities, food, car expenses, etc. Then, there are the costs involved with starting up your business. Do you need an office, or can you operate out of your home to start. Do you need office furniture? How about supplies like pre-printed invoices, stationery and whatever tools or equipment you will need for your business? Everything costs money.
Where can you raise money? How about family and friends? That could be a bad idea, because you will be getting a lot of advice from family that you will find annoying and that you could well do without. If the money comes from people too close to you, it usually comes with strings. And headaches. Do you really want to owe your mother-in-law money?
This is not a 'How to Start a Business' manual, I just want to illustrate that starting a business isn't easy. And if you do manage to start a business, there is no guarantee of success. Many businesses fail. When they fail, they often leave behind a trail of human misery, recriminations, marriage breakups, bankruptcy.
Still want to start your own business? Good for you. If I haven't scared the bejeebers out of you by now, you just might have the drive, ambition and determination to succeed.
Just one thing: Don't give up. I don't want to see either you or my son in a welfare line, ever. Tenacity and perseverence are just as important as that one great idea. If those attributes are missing, it is better not to start.