How to start a business: Start with a compelling vision and business idea

Throughout September The Business Woman will feature articles on the conceptual process of How To Start A Business. We start with this week’s article on Start With A Compelling Vision and Business Idea, subsequent blog articles will discuss:

  • Defining and identifying your target clientele
  • Strategically marketing your product and or service to that preferred clientele
  • Defining and identifying strategic alliance and third party suppliers
  • Leadership, staffing and people issues
  • Pricing your product
  • Join us on the journey!

Statistically Speaking Statistically speaking, women more so than men will start a business out of a passion, something that they naturally love to do but for which they had not hitherto considered entrepreneurially even though the passion has entrepreneurial potential. In many ways this is a good place to start since you need to start with what you know and what you love – the entrepreneurial journey can be a tough one and it is this very passion that will sustain and fuel you when sales are poor, as it will inspire and enthuse you when sales are good. So I say, start with a compelling vision and business idea.

What is a compelling entrepreneurial vision? It’s a business idea that is forceful and persuasive. I am not talking about having business plans with sales and revenue projections, and P&Ls. No, not just yet. Let’s keep it simple for now and focus on the idea.

Let’s imagine that your passion, like my own, is in consulting, specifically management consulting. Let’s imagine that this is an arena you have worked in for many years but you see a gap in the consulting market, especially management consulting for the small and growing business sector. More especially you see an even wider gap in terms of lack of diversity and inclusion within that consulting market, where more especially professional women with little or no business operations and management skills are largely excluded and without access to affordable and specialized business advisory services. You purpose that this arena – providing management consulting and business strategy advise to professional female CEOs and entrepreneurs in the small and growing business sector – is the space where you want to play.

Identify the need, who has the need and why
In essence what you would have done is:

  1. identify a need – management consulting and business advisory services for the small and growing business sector,
  2. identify a segment of society who has that need and/or which you want to serve – well educated, professional women business-owners and CEOs who have an appetite for and appreciation of business advisory/professional services, and
  3. you would have started the process of thinking through how your business idea can reach that segment of society and ease their ‘pain’ – in essence you would have started the process of thinking through your business model and your value proposition.

Personal and business values
Having thought through the ‘why’ of your business idea, I would suggest that you then start to think through your business values.

Given the ‘constituents’ (clients) that your business will be serving, what business and or personal values are dear to you and which you want to operate your business with. Are these business values likely to be appreciated, equally valued, by your potential clients? A business and its preferred/targeted clients need to have values-alignment if there is to be repeat business, referrals and a long term business relationship.

Your business culture
What business culture do you want your organisation to have, and how will you instil this culture in your operations? It’s important to think these things through early – otherwise the unsuitable staff, clients and suppliers may seep into your business and cause values/identify friction. Yes, that printer that promised to deliver your brochures at 10am but at 4pm you are still waiting for them and yet your flight to Tamale is at 4.30pm ahead of your conference tomorrow morning at 8am.

As you brainstorm all of these concepts you are articulating your business aspirations with clarity and intent. You are also inadvertently deciding whether you want to have a business or a brand, or both. Having a business and a brand are two completely different things – the two are not synonymous. Some people just want a business enterprise (e.g. I sell black and brown shoes for school children imported from China. Full stop. I trade. Full stop. My store is my tarpaulin stall outside of the parking lot of Bank XYZ in town) but others want a business and a brand, and I don’t just mean a business logo. In thinking about the latter you would need to think through what you want your brand and business to be known for, what your brand embodies, the sustainability and longevity of your brand.

Defining these will give you clarity as you start your business journey.

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