New Zealand has some amazing women executives and entrepreneurs who have been able to turn an idea or passion into a business. But the reality is that starting your own business is not something you should take lightly and it’s not for everyone.
It takes a certain set of characteristics and traits, and your friends, family, hobbies and interests are likely to come second if you are to succeed.
Christina Domecq, mum-of-one and serial entrepreneur who has recently launched her latest business, Ora, says there are a few questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge:
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1. Identify the problem you want to solve
Have you identified a gap in the market that you have a solution for, or are you passionate about a product or service? All too often people go into business following their passion, but they haven’t thought it out properly or tested the concept with their target demographic. At the core of it you have to understand the problem you want to solve.
2. How will you fund your business?
Often starting a business involves capital investment up-front, so you need to think carefully before investing your hard-earned cash. You may require a loan from a bank (they’ll want to see a clear business plan that will include milestones and funding requirements), friends and family may invest, or you could consider an angel investor. There is a great network of angel funders in New Zealand, and they can be found through places like LinkedIn.
3. What are your priorities in life right now?
You need to consider the best time to start a business. Family (children or not) is a huge consideration and you need good support. If you’re a mother at home and are looking to start a business make sure you are clear what success looks like for you. It may not just be about profit – flexibility often has huge value where children are involved. The right time is when you know in your heart that you’re so passionate about an idea you can drive it and make it happen even when others falter.
4. Can you do it alone?
Having a business mentor is a great option and you may find it useful networking with experts in different areas of business that you know are your weaknesses. You need to talk to people you can trust. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because it’s best to ask before you take the final plunge. New Zealand has a very accessible business community, and there are many willing business mentors happy to help.
Eventually the goal should be that the business can stand alone without you, but this isn’t realistic in the start-up days of any new venture, big or small. Often even taking a holiday can be a challenge in the early stages but at least consciously factor in some downtime – and don’t forget to forecast for others doing the same. For example, if you’re not a summer business, bear in mind that New Zealand goes on holiday for an entire six weeks in the warmer months.
You don’t need a degree in business but it does help. More important is your entrepreneurial spirit and a great idea that meets a need. If accounting is not your forte make sure you have a good accountant alongside you and learn to love numbers – the truth lies in the KPI.
5. Do I have the right characteristics and personality?
You need to be resilient and tenacious. Plus, different types of people suit different businesses. The skills and characteristics of a successful builder will be different than those needed to be a florist. But all businesses start with a dream and a successful business person can sell that dream to others – drive it forward, overcome hurdles that fall in their way and keep a keen focus on the end goal. At Ora we call it a ‘good business navigator’.
6. Do I really want to do this?
Starting a small business is a big challenge and very consuming. Often it takes 150% with long days and nights. You need to research your idea and have confidence it is something that consumers really want, or need. You also need to consider the economic drivers – does your idea make financial sense? Will your business be able to fund your lifestyle?
A lot of people will say you’re crazy, but if you have a dream, confidence around your idea, you’ve identified the problem you want to solve, and assessed the competitive landscape – go for it!
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