Starting a business is never easy. You need to decide what your service or product will be, what your target audience will be — and when is a good time to launch. According to a study by Vistaprint, 62% of Americans want to be entrepreneurs. But how many people really know what it takes to start, run and grow a business? Is now the right time in your life to start?
“Not all ideas are unique, and they’re not just for one person,” Tony Coleman Brown, founder of the Women in Business Network. “In the end, it’s the people who take the action. So, once you have an idea, you should act.”
Entrepreneurs cited numerous reasons for starting a business, including not liking their current job, needing a creative outlet, or simply wanting more money. No matter what motivates you, the timing and reason for starting a business must be purposeful.
Research and Find Your Target Audience
At the heart of every great idea is who you want to serve. Your target audience includes people who need or want your product or service, who in turn can help your business succeed. A recent study by Failory, a content site focused on startups, found that 90% of startups fail. One of the main reasons for this is that the product is not suitable for the selected market.
Research is essential to determine if there is a market for your business. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the keys to discovering your strengths and unique selling proposition and ultimately identifying your target market are:
- Conducting market research, such as gathering demographic data on age, population, and wealth
- Analyzing consumer behavior and economic trends
As you develop your business idea, survey your target audience often to understand how you can solve their problems and meet their needs. One such viable way to find your target audience is through focused Facebook groups.
Test Out Your Idea on the Target Market
If you have a business idea, but are not sure that it’s going to work, the best way to find out is to test the waters.
In 2019, Tonita White, owner of Dopely Lit, had an idea to launch a home fragrance, with the goal of marketing soy-based candles to who she refers to as the “urban” consumer.
The busy mother of twins decided to start small and test the market by creating two fragrances. White then budgeted for supplies and opened pop-up stores. After trying out her business idea and realizing that people love her product, the entrepreneur decided to move on in 2020. She developed a website and social media to flesh out her business. Additionally, White has expanded their product line to include holiday scents and candle melts.
Do You Have the Time, Energy, and Resources?
If you are ready to launch a business, you will need to have time to devote to it, energy to push through difficult times, financial resources, and a network that will support your endeavor.
Time and Energy
While you may be anxious to get your business started, time is a crucial factor you need to consider, especially in regards to your home and professional life.
For instance, say you are a stay-at-home mother with small children but without many child care options. Launching a business that will require you to be available to clients throughout the day might not be a realistic option. Or, if you have a demanding profession, launching a business that is just as demanding might cause you to burn out quickly.
You should still believe in the value of your idea. Just consider how you can fulfill your vision in a more reasonable way.
How are you going to finance your new business? For many entrepreneurs, starting a business means budgeting for legal structures, operating costs, marketing, and supplies. As part of running your business, you have recurring expenses.
The amount of capital you need to run your business will largely depend on the type of business you start. For example, entrepreneurs who start blogs have very little expenses. However, people who need a storefront or a lot of equipment to start a business need a business plan and a good reputation to fund their idea.
As you think about whether now is the right time to start a business, ask yourself these important financial questions:
- How much money do you have saved to fund your business?
- What does your credit look like, and will it help or hinder you from starting your business?
- If your credit is not good, what do you need to do to build your credit so you’re ready to launch your business?
- What startup capital do you need to fund your business?
- What are your business expenses?
- How will launching this business help or hurt your personal finances (especially if you quit your job to start this business)?
The ability to network with others—through social channels like LinkedIn and industry-related professional organizations, for example—is crucial to starting a business.
Whatever your industry, the best way to launch a business is by developing a robust and strategic business plan and being realistic in your ability to execute and sustain it. Running a business, after all, requires dedication and an understanding of your target audience, your industry’s economic outlook, and your own financial capabilities.