Building up a business can float your boat
Starting a small business is like building a boat – stay with me on this…
Firstly, the big idea, the outline plan, which for many is driven by a desire, or creativity or simply 'something I have always wanted to do' but, more specifically in the case of starting a business, an element of need for an income, something to replace the job which no longer exists.
The would-be captain shapes his idea, starts building, trials, adapts and streamlines for manoeuvrability, durability and stability. And so it is with a new product or service, honed, researched and positioned to fill an identified niche in the market.
Appropriate launch conditions are required in both cases, with start-up financing often coming from savings, redundancy money, family-funding or credit cards. Government money and loans are also available, but more often heard about rather than seen.
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Once launched and underway the budding enterprise will receive advice and support from many directions. After all, said advisers will be sailing their own boats, selling their own services in advertising, procurement, sales, legal or financial matters. No man is an island and it is unwise to sail alone unless very experienced.
Enthusiasm, energy, application and the will to succeed should provide enough power to sustain the maiden voyage, with the required wind under the sails coming from customer satisfaction, endorsements, but – most of all – from trading successfully. Once the course is set and the boat is moving forward, outside factors can influence direction and speed.
The government levies its taxes, the local authority collects the rent and rates, different organisations want to secure their pound of flesh from the entrepreneur. Exorbitant increases put a strain on the economic viability of the business.
Today's economic squalls can easily run boats aground, with added demands from government and local authorities rising, sales weakening and decreasing cash flow capsizing the boat and threatening insolvency.
And here we have the difference between the self-employed and the employed, the true entrepreneur and a hired general manager. An entrepreneur has set up his own business, using his own money, his own effort and his own creativity.
He will do everything in his power to keep his business running on an even keel. If uncontrollable disaster strikes and he finds no solution, he loses everything – savings, income, friends, home and perhaps also his family. When his boat sinks, his personal losses include his self-confidence, reputation and self-respect.
These are the facts, not complaints. The entrepreneur makes the choice to live off his creativity, his business acumen and his wits. If he fails, he often salvages what he can – and starts to float a different boat.
Angela Ladd, chairman of Small Business Focus