The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit: What Business Is Right for You?


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Author: 
By Paul J. Christopher

Things to know before starting a business:

  • It is critical to match your experience and abilities to the business you want to start or buy.
  • There are a variety of risks that come with every business; understanding these risks is basic to your decision making.
  • Starting a business is on a risk/reward continuum, just like buying stocks or bonds.
  • Knowing the pros and cons of buying a business versus starting a new one is critical.
  • The library is a great place to start your life as an entrepreneur.

Self-Examination

You know that you want to own your own business; the question is, what kind? What kind of business is suited to your talents, education, and experience? This is by far the most difficult and the most important issue you will face before venturing off. Consider some of the general variables that come into play:

  • Are you good at starting and planning, or should you consider buying an existing business?
  • If buying a business, are you attracted to a franchise or a privately held company?
  • Is your goal to own a service business or a manufacturing/distribution company?
  • Do you want a retail business?
  • Do you plan to work part-time, full-time, or start part-time and then grow to full-time employment/ management?
  • Is business growth important, or are you satisfied with a smaller, more contained business concept?
  • Do you have or need partners, either for their financial backing or for their business acumen and skills?
  • What skills and background do you bring to the business? Marketing? Management? Financial? Technological?
  • How much can you afford to invest to buy or start a business?

Naturally, this is just the start of this process.

The Library: Free Information

It should be no surprise that your local library has a wealth of useful free information.

One of the largest group of library patrons is businesspeople of all stripes. What the library offers is almost unlimited outreach and information. This information source is not just the stacks of books or racks of magazines in the physical space.

The library also has sophisticated and talented reference specialists, who can help you find the information you need or find it for you. Almost every library is part of a cooperative lending consortium: if the material you want is not there, it can be borrowed from another institution.

Self-examination is never easy. Throughout this book you are asked to evaluate your skills and potential performance based on a myriad of factors and circumstances—many of which you cannot anticipate. How do you know what your reaction is going to be when your first important marketing campaign fizzles or when you have more business than you can manage or even think about. These are both extremes, of course. Nevertheless, spending time visualizing what you expect to happen and then anticipating your ability to respond is essential for being both a good manager and a good entrepreneur.

Successful entrepreneurs have given time to anticipate how they want their business to look and how they want it to be. Intention is a powerful and dynamic tool. If you are not inclined toward intention and visualization, talk to successful athletes and you will discover that, before each competition, they try to envision exactly how they want things to turn out. Imagine what it will feel like when you reach a particular set of goals. Get in touch with the feelings you would have as a successful entrepreneur. Practice and conceive of the sense of empowerment and the joy of having succeeded.

If you were to investigate franchising, you would quickly learn that franchisors value buyers who have general business experience, especially experience that is very similar to the franchise to be purchased. Franchisors make money only if they select and sell franchises to individuals whom they judge to have the right stuff— the potential to manage the business as taught by the franchisors and to handle problems literally by the book. In fact, franchisors often can be rather rigid and will pull franchises from owners who are not operating as they have been taught and as customers have come to expect. In effect, you rent a franchise and continue to work and profit only if you are trained and follow the training and the franchise concept. The end result is that franchisors are looking for a certain type of person: someone who can follow the program and execute according to the franchise model. They are not looking for free thinkers—people who open their business at odd hours or offer discounts when they feel like it.

What does this tell you about the franchisor selection process, and what does it tell you about your process when you evaluate the prospects of taking on a franchise or starting your own business outside of the franchise model? The single most important factor is matching the individual with the business concept.

Resources

USA Today

USA Today has a franchise locator that asks the amount of money you have in capital and what industry you are interested in, then provides a listing of franchises that match the two criteria: http://usatoday.franchisesolutions.com/top_franchises_info.cfm.

Franchise Business Review

Franchise Business Review (FBR) has recommendations on the best franchises to own. FBR is a national market research firm that conducts its own surveys to find out the level of franchisee satisfaction. It is particularly interested in areas such as training, support, operations, and the financial opportunity potentially enjoyed by the franchisee. This company lists the top fifty franchises for the year by three categories: large systems, midsize systems, and franchises with less than fifty units. The basic financial information is provided as well as hot links to more specialized content. Visit http://topfranchises.franchisebusinessreview.com to view these lists.

 

book cover: How to Get a Great Job: A Library How-To HandbookThis article is excerpted from the book The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit:50 Things to Know Before Starting a Business by Paul J. Christopher (2012, Huron Street Press, an imprint ALA Editions).

 Please note that unlike the majority of content on the @ your library website, The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit:50 Things to Know Before Starting a Business is copyrighted material and is not available for reuse under Creative Commons license.

 

 

Image:
TEDxBayArea Global Women Entrepreneurs event 2012
by ttnk

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