E-Series – What business do I get into ?

What business do I get into ?I wish there was a straight, honest and correct answer to this question. There isn’t !

The two most important aspects to consider are –
1. A great idea and 2. Solid implementation.

Ideas are many – some useful, some funny, some simple and some outrageous. All ideas may not work though. Try this exercise. Pick up today’s newspaper and go through the first 2 pages’ headlines. Try and create a business idea out of the headlines – maybe one, maybe five – the more the better. List out all these ideas. Now, take them up one by one and imagine how to convert them into action. Stumped ? Some may require a huge amount of capital, some may require special expertise, while some may require a heavy dose of marketing. Are they all doable ? Some, maybe, all – most certainly not !

So how do I identify the business I should get into ? Many entrepreneurs look for an idea which will yield maximum returns – “which line has maximum scope?” they ask. My answer to them is that maximum scope is all around you – look at various businesses big and small around you and you will find quite a few of them doing well and constantly growing. Now, where does that leave us ?

The first step towards a good idea for yourself is to identify your own strengths. If you have been working in a chemical factory for the last 10 years, you may be an expert in manufacturing chemicals – publishing books may not be your forte ! If you are strong in a particular area, build upon your inherent strengths and do not stray to other areas which you know nothing of.

In most cases, your strengths will also be your own passions. If you are an avid music fan, your passion would be music and if you enjoy technology, your strength would be computers. Hence, if you can combine your strength and your passion, you have a great combination !

The next step is to find a need and fill it. Once you have identified your strength and passion, find a need in that particular area and try and fill it. In the earlier example, if music is your strength and passion, and there are no music libraries around, it might be a good idea to start a music library. Sometimes, the need may have been felt by you, or those around you. Look at the bigger picture, see where the world is going, identify the emergent needs and latch on to the opportunity.

You will now have to check out if the idea is practical. If you talk to your neighbours or friends, you will get a feel of what you are going to face. It may be worth asking around, how much would they pay for renting a music CD and how many times a month would they rent it ? It will give you a sense of what you are looking at. If you are going to start manufacturing soap, the survey may not be that simple. The people whom you need to ask may be spread far and wide, and you may probably run an online survey or look at published surveys for answers. Most industrial products may have published data about the demand and prices which could come in useful.

Make a business plan. Once you are convinced that the idea is workable, make a business plan. Try to put in all aspects of your business – the capital required, the running expenses, the people needed, the marketing efforts, the technology, if any, and all other major and minor aspects of running that business. It is worth working out a realistic plan and asking your mentor to vet it. Sometimes, the most obvious stuff may elude you and you could land up in a mess. The purpose of making a business plan is not only to assess the money you would require to start and run your business, but also to assess all the other resources such as material, men, location, etc. Many a times, a very enthusiastic to-be entrepreneur would realize the pitfalls once he puts all the requirements on paper. At best, a business plan may help you realistically assess the risks and rewards of the proposed venture; at worst, it may even dissuade you from starting off on a losing project.

Check if the idea is scalable. A very important aspect of a new business is to see the scalability of the project i.e. how far you can grow it. Most product businesses would be scalable to the extent of the production capacity that is setup. Many service businesses would be scalable to the extent of the no. of employees. This is a very important aspect because once you have setup a business and are able to run it successfully, you will have to think of growth and if at that stage you realise that you cannot grow it, it will be disastrous.

Once you decide that this is what you want – just do it ! Do not prevaricate or keep lingering. Implement your project fast and in the best way, as you alone can do it. Remember, implementing a project efficiently is the key to success. Many have done it before and many will do it after, but only you can implement it your own way. Think of doing it skilfully, happily, innovatively and cost-effectively and you have a winner on your hands !

E-Series – Yazdi Tantra


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