• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Frequently asked questions on starting a business

The wisdom of starting small

In this week’s session, we look at some pertinent questions on the minds of would-be entrepreneurs and we try to address them.

What sort of business should I get involved in?

The first rule in starting a business is to follow your passion. What are you passionate about? What keeps you awake every night, and what do you love to wake up to every morning? What themes have been consistent with you over the years?

The second thing you want to find out is what opportunities are available in the market place? What businesses can you start with little start-up costs?

When is the best time to leave my job if I’m thinking of starting a business?

A. There really is no best time. I’ll borrow a leaf from a popular Chinese Proverb. “The best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago; the next best time is now”. The rule of thumb is to work long enough to a point when you have gathered sufficient savings and gotten a wide network of people to help you on your entrepreneurship journey.

However, some of the most successful businesses never worked for a day in their life. It really depends on the kind of business you’re thinking of going into.

Read also: ‘Only impact-making SMEs can access Oxfam’s €100m’

I’ve got a business idea, but I see many people in this line of business. Would I not just be one of the many players in that industry?

You don’t have to jettison a business idea because there are other players in that industry. What you need to do is to strive to be different. The quote to go by is “Be different or nothing at all”. Look at the market, industry or perhaps your current organisation. Ask, what can I do differently? How can I improve on a process, and how can I create a business out of this improved process?

I’ve gotten all my ideas and I’m confident that this business will succeed, where do I get start-up funds from?

A. The first place to look is within. What funds do you have? You don’t just have to consider equity in terms of cash, but also sweat and knowledge. What skills do you have and what partnerships can you leverage on? If you need to sell some assets to make your dreams come through, then you should consider this. Also, If you have built credibility over time, either in your work place or your school, then you can approach your former bosses, lecturer, family members and friends.. Make sure you have an agreement in place with anyone giving you funding so that problems do not arise over time. At the start up stage, you want to get patient capital, which can stay in the business for long without repayment immediately.

How do I go about hiring staff?

You have to realise that the first staff is actually yourself. Invariably, you will attract your kind, so it’s essential to have the right attitude as an employer before you can attract the ‘’right’ kind of staff.  You shouldn’t hire so many people at the first instance. You should look to use some form of temporary staff or contract staff for non-sensitive roles until such a time that you have sufficient cash flow coming in to pay staff on a permanent basis. You can also approach some HR firms who would help you in hiring for a token. It doesn’t have to be the large established firms, but you can get some smaller firms that will offer as much value. In addition, you can outsource some functions like accounting, IT, HR ,et all.

What should I be looking for in a bank?

As a start up, you want a bank that has a dedicated SME department. Not all banks have this. You also want a bank that has a dedicated business account. Knowing that costs are an issue for your  business, you want to minimise as much costs as possible. You also want to find out if the bank has any form of capacity building for the small business that bank with them. Some banks actually offer free business advice and you want to take advantage of things like this, In addition, some have free online stores that you can upload your goods and services in order to reach a wider audience. Then, look for a bank that has good online presence that enables you bank conveniently and remotely with little risk of tampering with your accounts.

Oguche Agudah