How to Start a Business Based on Passion

Many ambitious people think of starting a business at some point in their lives, but their approach determines whether their idea will succeed or fail.  If you are looking to start a business, there are a few proven steps that are essential to your business start-up.

Find your Passion

To start a successful venture, the first step is to determine what you are good at, what drives you and what is your passion.  I always say this to my family, friends and clients – “passion will keep you going when profit is not flowing.”  You need to love something enough to be able to dedicate time and effort to it. You can use your life experiences, education and skills to transform your idea into reality.  Just imagine doing what you love every working day of your life – it stops being a chore and become a lifestyle.  Some of us have peculiar gifts which will yield great fulfilment if developed and enhanced the right way.

What Do You Want From Your Passion?

Once you have been able to explore and discover your passion, you need to determine what you want from it. You must remember that not all ideas or passion are viable.  We are referring to finding fulfilment first and not necessarily turning your passion into profit.  Some people just want to help others achieve their dreams or live better lives.  Some love to impart skills or build systems that make things work better.  There are millions of ideas you can explore if you are true to your passion and strengths.

  1. Non-Profit Making Passion

Money makes the world go round and we need money to pay the bills.  So if your passion is not a profit-making business, do not despair – just don’t quit your day job.  There are many ways you can find fulfilment doing what you love and keep your  regular job.  You just need to find the right balance and sync the two to work together effectively.  If you need to dedicate a few hours in the evening twice a week towards your passion, then so be it, as long as other parts of your life do not suffer for it.  I believe if we love something enough, we will make time for it in our lives.

  1. Profit Making Passion

On the other hand if you want to earn an income from your passion, you will need to take a different route.  You should first settle in your mind that you have the skills and knowledge to run a business. Running a business is not a leisure activity and you must be prepared for the journey. Ask your family and friends to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  Make a list of the skills and entrepreneurial traits that your business requires.  Then list the ones you already have, the ones you can develop and where you need someone else’s input to compliment your weaknesses.

What Do You Have?

So now you know you enjoy making hair accessories or providing answers to life’s questions.  The next thing you need to do is to think of how to package that passion into a product or service.  What is out there and how can you make your product or service different from others? This can unlock the key to your uniqueness and a niche market. Sometimes the difference in your products can be your customer service, packaging, a little bit extra or the additional accessory that creates a completely new market.  You need to explore the possibilities of your products and services through research and by talking to people to find out what needs are not being met.  The best way to start is to use your competitors as a guideline to discover the missing pieces or gap in the market.

We all seek fulfilment one way or another but what better way to find fulfilment doing what you love and helping others too.  Enjoy the process and I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps provides pre business start-up one-to-one sessions and workshops on How to Define your Passion and How to Develop Business Ideas.  The sessions and workshops help you discover what you love and enjoy and help you start your own business stress-free and totally motivated.  Visit the website at www.businessfirststeps.co.uk to find out more.

Click here for BFS April 2012 Newsletter and subscribe for future updates.

Photos courtesy of Lockheed & Tracynbran sxc.hu

Defining a Niche Market for your Business

Business can be a pleasure if we get things right from the start. One of the keys to being a successful business owner is the ability to identify an industry gap and your niche market.   I am sure a lot of us hear about niche markets all the time, internet marketers always advice – find your niche, know your niche!  So is all the hype really worth it?  Yes it is!

In this blog, I want to demystify how you can identify a niche for your business idea or improve on what you have.

The Wide Reach of the Web

The World Wide Web is just as it name implies, a web that collects all sort of information from all over the world.  Cyberspace is versatile and reaches the most remote parts of the earth.  So how do you compete with a business in Mongolia or another in Kenya?

You Find your Niche Market

When you decide to start out in business and if you are like me, ideas might come in drones and crowd your mind with so much information. They might overwhelm you and some people even quit at this stage…yes before they start!  The solution is not to quit but to start your quest by identifying the things that interest you.

If you are interested in motorcars, you may not be able to compete with the likes of Mercedes or Ford Motors. There is a likelihood that you can offer what customers are missing from the big competitors.  Even though they eat the cookies, there are bound to be some crumbs that may fall on the ground. Just imagine if you keep collecting the crumbs every time they get a cookie. Before you know it, you may have a cookie of your own!

Analyse Your Products and/or Services

What do you want to offer?  Is it an area you are very knowledgeable about?  Or is it something you can learn?  Your product may seem like a great idea to you, but will your customers feel the same way?

For example, your product may appeal to mothers but what kind of mothers will your products appeal to, mothers of toddlers, mothers of boys, mothers of teenagers or grandmothers?

Narrow Down your Search

Once you have been able to identify your market e.g. toys for toddler boys. You need to determine the keywords that describe your market.  You can now use the best keyword search facilities to identify how many people search for what you have to offer.  You may discover that there are many people looking specifically for what you have to offer but very little competition.  If the competition is low, you may have found your market.

Revamp a Product or Service

There might be a lot of competition for your proposed product or service, but don’t give up!  There might be nothing new under the sun (According to King Solomon of the bible) but there might be better ways of doing things.  Can your product compliment an existing one? Can you offer an extension of what is currently available?   You should study your competitors and think of how you can make your business unique.

Find the Right Description

When people ask about your business, develop a well thought out description of your niche market. For instance if you are a personal trainer, never introduce yourself as ‘just a trainer’. Introduce yourself as ‘a personal trainer with over 12 years experience of providing Thighs and Abs Training, specialist area being Abs and Thighs training for mothers who have had a C-Section’.    Now you bet people will pay attention! (this may be idea for someone out there).

Identifying a niche market for your business can help it stand out from your competitors.   Before you embark on your business there are other issues you will need to factor in as well. Using a niche market strategy in isolation may not guarantee business success.  But it will compliment your other efforts as you embark on developing your business concept.

Check out my brainstorming sessions – your virtual business partner when you need one.

I wish you good success.

Temi

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Photos courtesy of sxc.hu Spekulator and Lockheed.

How to Find A Home Business

I want to highlight some tips to help you wade through the countless offers online and offline on how to make a fortune in no time at all.  Incredible, I know!!! My first instinct when I see those proclamations now  is ‘if it’s that easy everyone will be doing it’.  It’s nice to have an additional income to support your family needs especially in this economic climate.  A word of warning, do not be desperate enough to try anything without carrying out adequate research. 

Extra Income Comes In Handy

I got burnt many years ago by a company that offers toner for printers.  I was looking for an easy to do business to support my regular income.  I got my business cards and everything else organised to start my distributorship for the low-priced toner. The company simply stopped responding after I paid my first instalment. No response to emails (obviously you can’t call them as they don’t have a number!).  I had to cancel my credit card to ensure they stop charging me for service that was never provided. 

To avoid getting burnt like I did, the following tips should help you separate the good from the bad and the outright ugly:

Information Overload

There is so much information out there especially online, it is mind-boggling!  Offers for everything from diet pills to face cream that can make you look ‘40 years younger’.  Most of them also come with a deadline – TODAY ONLY offers!!! You can get lucky and find a business you will enjoy but you aren’t sure if it is a scam.  In order to find the right home business for you, you need to do your own research. 

Once you identify a business you will like to do, find information about them via the search engines. 

Is there any information about the company apart from the one on their website? 

Are there any customer review of their products and services?

Do the people who write the reviews actually exist?

Google is God-sent as you can find almost anything that has a web-entry online. 

Is There a Need for The Products?

Are the products legitimate products or services?

Do they meet a need?  

Do you know people who will buy them?

Is there a sample available to see, feel and touch?

What makes them difference from what is in the market? 

Are they cheaper, better, bigger or simply a lie?

Hello, anyone there!!!

Contact Information

Do they have a website? (Especially those roadside claims to wealth)

Are there valid contact details on the site? 

Is there a person at the end of the phone or an automated response?

 

Guarantee and Returns

Does the company offer any guarantees and what are their return policies?  If you are buying a service returns may not apply, but find out what they are willing to offer if you are not satisfied with the service. 

What Costs Involved? 

What costs are involved in starting up?  Make sure you go through these details with a fine-tooth comb.  Read the information and look out for the catch (if any), do not be too eager and forget to read the small print. 

When you take time to research and read through the information about your choice of business, it will help you make informed decisions. Remember it is also easier to sell things you love so in your search look for products or services you can easily offer to others.   If you are not a coffee drinker like me, I am not sure you will be able to adequately sell the benefits of coffee…except you are an exceptional salesperson. 

There is no quick fix to starting a business online, more likely a quick way to get scammed. 

Carry out due diligence as often as required for every opportunity that come your way. Remember as you get smarter, so do the scammers. I hope you find the right home business for you.

 Wishing you every success…Temi

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk/brainstorming.html

The List that Matters

The dawn of a new year is upon us and many are writing their aspirations and goals for the new year. As usual I have got a question for you…what really matters to you in life? 

  • Is it a Successful Business?
  • The Profit?
  • The Acclaim?
  • The Fame?
  • The Experience?
  • Being a Person of Influence?
  • A Dominant Market Share?

 This list might be part of our Business goals for 2012, but we should not allow our drive to excel and succeed supersede the need to be there for our loved ones.  

As you write your business goals for 2012, remember to make time for those that matter in your life. I am rearranging my own priorities in 2012 too. 

Read the rest of the newsletter here

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The 4 Pillars of a Home Based Business

Starting a home based business is a good option for those who want to have a great work life balance. Care should be taken to make sure money is not poured down the drain in the name of starting a business. People preach the many pitfalls that can be avoided and the wise do take heed and tread with caution.

Is it all Doom and Gloom?

The fragile world economy features in the news everyday and so does how things are expected to get even tougher. A lot of people are anxious about how to support a decent lifestyle. For most families it is almost impossible to cover expenses on two salaries with increase in food costs, household bills and other basic needs. A home based business is a great consideration for anyone who wants to supplement their income or create flexible working hours to meet family demands, get rid of unemployment or solve other issues.

Working from home is a great way to earn some extra income and for some people their entire income comes from their home business. The best thing about this type of set-up is the low start-up costs. A home based business is not as easy as it sounds though; it requires a lot of planning with the right knowledge and skills.

Pillar 1 – If It Is Too Good To Be True It Probably Is

You probably have seen a lot of adverts online about how someone made £10,000 in one day. We will all like to strike it lucky and find that deal of a lifetime. But beware, if you are thinking of working from home, do not get sucked into these false claims of making millions in a few months. There are businesses that generate a healthy profit but think about it, if those claims were true everyone will be doing it. Consider the risks involved before you take up any offer for a home based business. Carry out adequate research about the business before you commit funds to it. Search yourself, if this is what you really want to do or if you are doing it for the love of money. Remember the love of money can only satisfy temporarily.

Pillar 2 – Start With Minimal Cost

Starting a home based business should not cost the earth. Just because you are not renting an office space, does not mean you should blow your budget on a state of the art computer system, an executive desk and a recliner chair with a built in massage service. Manage your budget effectively especially when starting off as money may not come in immediately but bills still need to be paid. Beware of the stationery habit; it can spiral out of control especially for those who work from home.

Pillar 3 – Dream Big Start Small

Don’t bite off more than you can chew when starting a business from home. Consider your working hours, family schedule, space within your home and other important factors before you commit to your customers. Do you have the space to store the raw materials for your products? Can you manage more than 10 clients a month without impinging on family time? These are some of the important factors you need to consider when you start your home based business. Remember your business reputation is at stake if you do not deliver on your promise.

Pillar 4 – Easy Maintenance

Many people who choose to work from home are probably tired of the status quo. So why complicate things even further by setting up a home based business that is too complicated to run. This opportunity should give you the chance to follow your passion and run a business too. Working from home should be a pleasure not another daunting task you hate to wake up to. You should set things on your own terms and within certain guidelines. If you intend to laze about the house and pretend to be working, you might as well stay in your current job. It takes a lot of dedicated hard work to get any business off the ground – a home based business is no exception.

All these pillars might sound like child’s play when it comes to starting a home-based business, but one wrong turn can lead to a frustrating experience. Make sure you follow your passion when starting a home based business and understand the basics of running a business. Consider the 4 pillars stated above in addition to other relevant information when starting out to help you stay on the right track and enjoy the process.

I wish you good success in your chosen endeavours….Temi. 

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk we are passionate about adding value to your passion.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Temi_Koleowo

Photos by Ifonono and Lewy2005 sxc.hu.

Analyse Your Business Plan

Hello Fellow Business Owners,

It is always a privilege to be able to write to you.  I enjoy sharing my thoughts and what I have learnt in the world of business start up and development over the weeks and months gone by. 

This week let’s talk about your business plan.  To a lot of people, this is a daunting task that requires many sleepless nights, toiling over what to write about your mission, passion and vision.  Starting and running a business requires constant analysing, planning, changing and adapting.  A business plan however informal is a good place to start your business concept.  Starting a business without a business plan is like going to a new place without a map – surely one is bound to get lost. 

Your first business plan is your perception of what you expect your business to be.  It forms the basis on which you launch out into the business world.  It might contain a lot of expectations, hypothesis and forecast.  When you start your business some of these assumptions will change, reality sets in and you now have to adjust the plan. 

Don’t be discouraged if your business doesn’t go according to plan, pat yourself on the back for crossing the biggest hurdle of starting off!!! Now you need to focus on what works and enhance it. 

Analyse the Plan

At least after the first three months of business you should review your initial business plan, take a critical look, alter what needs to be changed and set a new plan.   

Sales Forecast

What was the initial sales forecast?

 Is the business meeting up? 

If things are not working to plan, do not let it get you down.   You should look at other sources of income for your business.  What commitments can you let go of?  Think of how you can reduce your expenses whilst you work hard to increase business awareness and hopefully more sales.  

Products

If your products are not bringing the expected income for your business,  then think of what you can add to enhance these products so they no longer stand alone.  What will people need in addition to what you provide?  For instance if you have a nail bar, will your clients like a neck or head massage whilst they get their nails done?  Do you have a fast track service (at an extra cost) for those who can’t wait? 

Customers

Are you targeting the right customers?  Sometimes the people we think will buy our products are not actually those who need them.  Look closely at the people that patronise you, what are their needs, what other services do they ask for?  Studying your customers and adapting your products and services to meet their needs is the best route to customer satisfaction and repeat purchase.

There are many aspects of your business plan that needs to be reviewed after the first few months of trading.  Go through the whole plan and ask yourself what should change and what should go.  There are other aspects of the business plan that are worth your consideration and these we will address in another blog entry.  Until then, I pray you are able to rise above the current economic situation and make a success of your venture. 

BusinessFirstSteps provides business plan writing and review service to help you navigate the first steps of the business world. Have a look round our website, we will be glad to be of help. 

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

Emails and Time Management

If you have a work inbox, you most likely will get emails everyday. Some from your clients, your suppliers,  email listings and some unwanted.  So how exactly are you suppose to deal with your inbox on a daily basis so it doesn’t take over your business life?

Choose a Time Slot

Find a time slot in the day when you choose to open your emails.  If you are easily distracted, do not make it the first task in the morning as it may spiral out of control if something catches your fancy.  I choose to open my emails first thing as it helps set my mind for the day, especially information from my clients and email subscriptions.   Allocate a specific amount of time to deal with your emails, mine is twenty minutes maximum. 

Filter Your Emails

Some of your email will be urgent, some will be for further reference and some are meant for trash or junk mail.  Try to read through the important ones rather than save them for later.  Reduce the mail in your inbox as you go along – do not be afraid to hit the delete button.  Compartmentalized them into folders such as resources, email subscriptions, junk etc.  Make sure that your ‘read later’ pile is kept to a minimum and do ‘read them later’.

No Entry – Friends and Family  

                                                

Politely ask your family and friends not to send personal emails to your work inbox.  Less mail from loved ones can drastically reduce your workload and sifting process.  If they must send one (for business), ask them to make it short and to the point. 

 

Reply in a Jiffy

If you need to reply to an email, summarise your points  and do not go into an elaborate write-up. 

Maintain Good Practice

  • Once an email is read, remove it from your inbox either into another folder for reference or delete it. 
  • Try to keep your inbox as clear as possible, if an email is lingering there for too long – maybe you do not need it after all. 
  • Unsubscribe from email listings you no longer find useful and keep subscriptions to  a manageable level.
  • Make it a habit to junk the mail you did not solicit for or need.  
  • Keep your work inbox for work and not for leisure activities, if necessary create a mail box for that purpose and make sure you notify people to use it for your personal emails.   
  • Shift through your inbox once a week to weed out emails that have been lingering unread for days. 
  • Show junk and spam mail no mercy as they are major time-wasters. 
  • Do not visit your inbox too many times during the day, I visit mine thrice a day morning, lunchtime and before I close shop for the day. 
  • If you are expecting an important mail, then be strict with yourself to check in and check out without loitering!

Don’t forget to glance through your junk mail as some important mail might slip through the net.  As you tackle your inbox this week, be firm so you can spend your time doing what matters. 

Wishing you every success.

Temi

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Coming soon to a site near you – Time Management Tips for a More Effective You.

Photo courtesy of sxc.hu Kveselyte, WR-fife

Before the Business Plan

In the Beginning of Business Start-up

At the start of the year you probably decided you wanted to start your own venture.  After contributing to your employer for so long and not being fulfilled, you are about to take a leap into the world of self-employment.

 As stated by the Prime Minister and the Start-up Britain initiative, http://www.startupbritain.org/ this might be the best time to start a business. This is good news, at least there is a guarantee you are not alone on this quest for self –expression.   

So pardon me as I jolt you out of your entrepreneurial dream for a short while and ask you these two important questions:  

Can You Cope Without A Regular Income?

If you intend to say goodbye to your employer, be ready to say goodbye to a regular income – ok maybe for a short while.  Before the money starts rolling in there is a lot of ground work that might be required as well as many sacrifices – including financial ones. 

You certainly can’t continue to spend money like you used to after all it is now about effort in = profit out.  So if you have got some savings stashed away somewhere, now might be a good time to revisit your household budget and find out how you can survive for the next 6 months or so.

How Much Time Can You Dedicate To This Venture?

If you are serious about growing a business, you can be rest assured that your time will no longer be your own. If you have a family there is every possibility that you will be torn between two parties – trying to meet your family obligations and spending time developing your concept.                        

Starting off a new venture can be tough in the beginning as you try to get off to a successful start.  You should be realistic about your commitments, explain to your nearest and dearest how your life will change.  Rearrange your schedule so your building process does not impinge so much on other commitments.

We won’t discuss social engagements as they may be non-existent for a while!

 

Despair or Inspire

If the above questions have not been able to dissolve your resolve, maybe just maybe you have what it takes for such a huge leap!

Don’t despair if this sounds daunting, if you do your homework properly the initial drought season might not last long though it may occur again at some point during the life span of your business.  Once you conclude that you intend to make the business work, you will find the determination and strength to push through every obstacle.  

The good news is if you work really hard, the money you earn is not to pay someone else’s salary.  It’s for you to decide what you want to do with it – even reinvest it in your business.

Maybe now I have got you thinking a little bit deeper or help you banish the doubts and the fears (ok maybe temporarily!).  Next stop… let’s think about the viability of your business idea.

At www.businessfirststeps.co.uk, we are passionate about concept development and business start-ups.