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Do you have a "can do", optimistic attitude? Are you determined to succeed whatever it takes? Do you believe you control your own destiny or is life a series of random events that happen to you no matter what you may have planned?
=> Other Personal Qualities
Finally, think about personal qualities that make you, you. Are you energetic and motivated, are you resourceful, are you resilient, realistic and practical, a hard worker?
Once you have completed your personal inventory, sit down and rank your positives from highest to lowest. Then do same thing with your negatives. Once you've ranked your strengths and weaknesses in this way, you'll have something of a framework within which any prospective business idea must fit. If your idea requires great strength in an area where you're weak, toss it. If it requires strength in an area where you're strong, keep it. This is not a black and white exercise. Any idea you have will require any combination of skills and strengths. You must evaluate objectively whether your particular combination of skills and strengths is enough to compensate for your particular weaknesses and make a success of venture.
So, where are you to get ideas against which to measure your skills and strengths? First off, bear in mind there are a number of approaches to starting a business of your own. You may provide a service; you may manufacture a product; you may distribute a product manufactured by someone else.
A well-known schematic which sets out all possible combinations is as follows:
1. Existing products/services and existing markets. 2. New products/services and existing markets. 3. Existing products/services and new markets. 4. New products/services and new markets.
If you focus on option 1. you face stiff competition. If you focus on option 4. you have to invent wheel first. So pay most attention to options 2. and 3.
Take your skills inventory. What do you know and enjoy most? Are you a specialist? Think about what you know. What do people buy? What do people want but can't buy? What do people buy but don't like? What are people buying more of? Where do they buy and when and how?
When you've considered that, look at how you can change existing products or services to meet an unmet need, to meet a need in a different, more convenient way, to improve quality or service. Be particularly observant and on lookout for emerging trends (an aging population, an increasing number of people working from home etc.) and expanding market niches (e.g., increased reliance by businesses on outsourced services).
During this process, employ any technique you can think of including brainstorming, asking people (novel but effective!), read trade magazines and directories. Focus on your consumer and market, not on your product. After all, there's no point in building a better mousetrap if no-one needs or wants one.
By way, don't forget, when you think in terms of your own business, self-employment includes independent contracting and consulting. Perfect outlets for what you know if what you know is in high demand.
Once you have a shortlist of business ideas to play with, start assessing them as viable business opportunities. This means devoting time and effort to assessment, research, development and planning.
Examples of types of activities you should be engaging in here include:
=> Talk about your product or service with prospective customers. Is there really demand for your offerings? If so, how strong? How price sensitive? What sets you apart from your competition?
Find out everything you can about your target market and your competition already servicing that market. Are price wars common? If so, you have too much competition. Are there only one or two big players and no little ones? If so, barriers to entry are too high. Look for markets where there is healthy competition between product/service providers but where profit margins are reasonable.
=> Analyze your Competition Who are they, how are they structured, how long have they been in business, what are their respective market shares, what sets you apart?
How would you start out? Can you start out part-time before you leave your paid job? Can you work from home? Will you start from scratch or buy and existing business or franchise? How will you market your business?
=> Prepare Projections
Work out what your expenses are likely to be and how much revenue you need to be able to generate to break even. Then work out roughly how much revenue you need to make a predetermined amount of profit (remembering to factor in cost of your time and finance expenses such as loan repayments).
How realistic are your revenue objectives? Are they attainable? Over what timeframe?
PLANNING AND LAUNCH
Finally, once you've identified an idea that makes it past first cut (i.e. everything you've done to date), do whole idea assessment routine again but this time being much more detailed and specific. At end of this process you need to be able to produce a solid business plan, one you can take to bank if necessary. Even if you're not going to need outside financing, do your formal business plan anyway. It will help you ensure you've covered all bases and left nothing out. By time you finish your business plan, you should know your business inside out.
All that's left is to put your plan into action and launch!
Not surprisingly, whole process from personal inventory to launch is not something you can do in a week. Ideally, it's something you will be able to start BEFORE you lose your job since it will likely take you several months. But returns on your investment can be substantial. Do it right and do it well and you will create for yourself your own employment, never again to be at mercy of someone else to determine your fate.
But it's not an easy road. Self-employment is not a safe route. It rewards risk-takers and resilient. You may not succeed on your first attempt. But, as with anything in life, where there's a will there's a way. If you are truly determined to create your own security, nothing compares to putting your destiny back where it belongs - in your own two hands.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ... practical home business ideas for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com/cgi-bin/mmp/sub.cgi?ahbbo=!FLM