Entrepreneurs continue to be the driving force behind the economy of British Columbia. Small business represents a remarkable 98 per cent of all business in the province, employing over one million people in the process. With incubator programs, grants, and support from services like Small Business BC, there’s never been a better time to start a small business. Whether your idea is fully formed, or you’ve yet to move past the “idea on a napkin” phase, you can give yourself the best chance of success by considering these seven tips for starting a small business.
Pursue Your Passion
Steve Thorp, Co-Founder of Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery believes business works best when it aligns with your passions in life: “For young entrepreneurs I would advise that whatever you do, make sure your business aligns with your life and your passions, because that passion will drive you on when times are tough. Don’t get pushed into an industry based on greed or money.”
Craft A Business Plan
A business plan will help you communicate to others how you’re going to bring your idea to fruition. The business plan should include answers to questions like – what is the purpose of the business? Who will you sell your product to? How will you finance the startup phase? And finally, what is your contingency plan? Unsure of how to put a business plan together? Small Business BC offers seminars and advisory services to get the ball rolling.
No matter how well prepared you think you are, certain aspects of your business are going to take longer and cost more than you think. Having a strong contingency plan when starting a business is a must because every business has obligations, and how are you going to meet them if the money hasn’t started to come in yet?
Have You Got Time?
Trying to lessen the risk, a lot of entrepreneurs start their company on the side while also working a full-time job. Are you willing to sacrifice your free time to pursue your business? It helps to think of this time as an investment, one that will pay off when your company becomes successful and you’re free to pick and choose your own hours.
The Benefits of Mentorship
When you feel like your progress has plateaued, an expert or mentor could provide an outside viewpoint to help surmount the problem. Entrepreneurs love to think they’ve got all the answers, but sometimes admitting you need help is the push needed to make tangible progress. Small Business BC’s Talk to the Expert program is one avenue to pursue, connecting entrepreneurs with industry experts for guidance in a one-on-one consultation.
Spread the Word
When starting a small business, your success is predicated on your number of customers. Getting the word out about your product/service is key, and don’t dismiss the potential of networking. Consider attending local meetups, conferences, or connect with people over social media. Casting a wide net lets you put you and your product in front of as many people as possible.
Stepping out of the Comfort Zone
It’s all too easy to put up a mental barrier and convince yourself you can’t do something. The universal trait found in entrepreneurs is the ability push past that nagging voice and step out of the comfort zone. Tara Bosch, the 23-year-old founder and CEO of Smart Sweets takes an interesting view on this: “Every stumbling block is an opportunity. When things don’t go to plan, and it will (fast and often in my experience), ask yourself, what can I learn to improve? Apply this thinking to your business and it will save you learning that lesson in a much more painful (and expensive) way later.