Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 22nd 2015 Contents NOVEMBER 22 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
ENTREPRENOMICS | SBG13
e are coming to the end of
the year and some of us might
be working out our goals for
2016. One of your objectives
might be to start a business.
You may not know where to
start so I have a list of items that could assist in making
your dream business come true.
1. All in your mind
The first place to start is with your mind. To be a
successful entrepreneur requires a different way of
thinking. Entrepreneurs are fundamentally different
from employees or the average person. They do not
see the world the same way. They approach problem
solving and opportunity identification as an important
task. Entrepreneurs by nature are creative and inno-
vative. Tenacity is part of their arsenal. When others
say there is no solution, they will take the alternate
route and find a way out of what looks like an impossible
Of course, being a risk taker is a key trait of an
entrepreneur. The level and the approach to risk taking
are also different from the average person. Entrepreneurs
take not high risks but moderate ones. They also are
calculated risk takers; if I take this risk what is the
chance of it having a negative outcome? If so is there
a way to reduce it or give it to someone else?
2. Business idea
A business starts with an idea but that is just the
beginning of a long chain of steps to reaching your
final goal of starting your business. Some ideas are
just that; a concept in your mind with little value. A
solid business idea is one with some commercial poten-
tial; it can support a viable business down the road.
Some crazy ideas have made it and some have not.
There was a person who patented a three legged panty
hose or another who invented glue that will not stick.
Which one you think made it? A manager at 3M one
day got some inspiration from an incident in church
when he saw devotees with paper markers falling out
of their bibles. He then thought about the value of
sticker note as a marker. Who would think about the
value of writable book marks? It is US$100 million
business based on a half dead adhesive.
Niches are a nice place to start to find opportunities.
Entrepreneurs are opportunity driven; where others
find pain they find gain. Niches are very small segments
of the market; channa punch, breadfruit drink and the
likes are niches. It attracts a small but loyal following.
Most markets started off as niches. The personal com-
puter in the 1980s, super premium ice cream (Ben &
Jerry’s), granola bars, etc were niches in the early days.
The good thing about niches is that they offer a safe
place away from the battle field. If you make breadfruit
punch, don’t expect Nestle to enter the market with
their marketing muscle. You could not possibly take
on a giant like that.
Sometimes niches grow into large segments like
energy drinks. Red Bull and Monster are dominant
players in a fast growing market. When Coca Cola
entered the market with Full Throttle, you know that
it is no longer a niche but a segment or even a new
product category (like canned fish, meats).
Think cheap! Why risk a whole lot of funds when
you are not sure and believe me, you can never be sure
that this business idea will fly. Since you are a calculated
risk taker, make sure you only invest in the basics, no
frills; things that are non essential should be cut out.
Some entrepreneurs avoid borrowing at the early stage
and use their own funds to ticker with the prototype
they have developed.
Some strategies to keep you costs down: work out
of home (if that is appropriate), use your existing
resources (computer, car), use your credit card (instead
of a loan but pay the balance before interest kick in),
use free resources on the Internet, etc
5. Business model verification
You may have a good business idea or prototype but
will it work as a business? A successful business model
should have solid revenue model that pays its costs
but, at the same time, manage the risks so the business
can be sustainable. This requires some testing and if
your idea is to sell a plant applicator that dispenses
fertilisers and pesticides, the best way to test your
market is to make some and sell it. The idea is to see
not how it works (you established that already) but
the impact on the farmer’s income or yield. You will
also want to see how the production process and supply
6. Rick reduction
So your business model on a small scale works but
scaling up is another story. When is the best point to
do so? It might be best to look at things from the per-
spective of cash flow, market demand and economies
you might be missing out on. Scaling up has a different
set of risks than at start up. One issue is the amount
of funds required and if demand is really that large.
These uncertainties are froth with risks. Don’t be hurry
to scale up but, at the same time, word is out there
that your idea is working so competition could be
ready to enter your newly discovered niche.
7. Learning not profit
One of the big mistakes that budding entrepreneurs
make is start off with the objective that they must make
money first. At the early stage of the business, the idea
is to learn as much as possible. A start up is business
experiment and like all experiments you are not sure
it will work or why some aspects work or not. But unlike
a lab where you can easily control things the real world
is much more complicated.
There are many variables and therefore many pos-
sibilities (outcomes). Let’s say you are trying out your
mother’s famous bread fruit drink as a small business
outside your home. It is healthy since breadfruit is high
in fiber but expensive. You live in a rural area with pre-
dominantly youths and many people have bread fruit
trees (so they should like this innovative punch). Your
idea flops badly and you wonder why?
If you had done some research you would have guessed
that this product is for health conscious consumers who
are time poor. The upper end residential area might
have been a better place to test this idea out.
By timing I do not mean when is the best time to
start a business is, but when the pieces of your business
model can be put together and work as a profitable
business. Of course, the best time to start a business
is always now; not yesterday or tomorrow.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME consultant. He can be
contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org; entrepre-
with Sajjad Hamid
8 tips to start your
business in 2016
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