I am sure you, like most people, have had an idea, interest, or passion that you thought would be a good business but have been baffled about what to do next.
First, know that the team at the Elgin/St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre is here to help you in your early exploration of entrepreneurship or at any point along the journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
While no two businesses are the same, here are a few general steps to help you get started.
Be willing to put in the work to get there.
Many local businesses, including Purely Wicked and Abby Mae's Gluten Free Bakery, have launched their business first as a vendor at the Horton Farmers' Market before hiring staff and opening storefront locations.
Ask yourself the following questions; how can you start this business with $5? What is the minimum viable business you can create? Can you start selling to family and friends from your home? Can you try selling through Instagram or Facebook?
Reducing the risk, and investment, by starting from where you (and with what you already have) is vital. It will allow you to test out the market, see if you enjoy doing it, and learn about your customers and the local market in which you operate.
There are better long-term strategies than being the cheapest. Set a price based on one or more of the following factors: (1) what it is worth, (2) what it costs to make, or (3) what your competition charges.
Ask someone to buy it. Make a sale. Repeat.
So many people are passionate about what they do, and they get all choked up about charging money for it. Money is not bad, and money is what makes the thing you create sustainable. Plus, making money feels good!
Guess what? You are not special. Everyone has these thoughts.
To be an entrepreneur means taking a (social) risk and putting yourself out there before you have everything figured out. Talking to people about what you do is the only way to learn more, build a group of people invested in supporting your business, and connect to the resources you don't currently have.
Saying out loud what you want to create is the first step to bringing it to life. You must talk to people about it and get their ideas, knowledge, connections, and excitement.
And it's something you can do today.
Post it on Facebook. Send your Superfans an email update of what you have in the works. Reach out to someone with whom you'd like to collaborate. Build a prototype.
Telling people about what you are doing in any way is marketing because people can only buy from you if they know your business exists.
Be wary of time wasters such as perfecting a logo or a website or feeling like you need more tools to start. You will only learn what you need by working with engaged or potential customers.
There are many right ways to run a business, don't cling to what you or others think you should do. Build the company that works for you and is possible from where you are.
This journey is not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to put in the work and be consistent. Money doesn't grow on trees; it takes time to build a business.
Professional Business advisors are available for free through the Elgin/ St. Thomas Small Business Centre. Contact us at email@example.com to set up a call about your business.
This article was originally published in Hometown St. Thomas, March 2023 - Click here for the full issue