January 17, 2023 3 min read

You've decided that you want to start your own business. The next step isn't always clear. 

My advice is always to start small and start in a small niche and solve your own problem (scratch your own itch). While it seems logical to target everyone and have mass, broad appeal, the problem is you end up appealing to no-one. Your message is lost.

By solving your own problem you know exactly what your customer is experiencing and you have genuine belief and confidence that the solution your providing is benefiting your customer who has similar problems.

Example 1: You're into cycling, everyone's into cycling. This market on its own is too broad. But you may have experienced bike theft and it really annoyed you. You feel current solutions aren't working, so you come with a product/solution that works better than current products. You try it on friends who have similar problems, they like your solution. You know personally your solution works. So now your target market is bike owners who have had their bike stolen and are willing to spend more on security so it doesn't happen again.

Example 2: You get eczema. Most off-the-shelf creams don't work, so you make your own formula that you've been using for years. Your friend's child gets eczema, they try your cream, it works. So now your not targeting the beauty cream or skin care market, your specifically targeting people that get eczema and for who main stream products don't work.

Example 3: (A coffee one!) You love making coffee and talking to people, improving peoples coffee experience. You work in contract catering. You've seen film crews film advertisements, and how they can be in 2-4 locations in one day over the course of a week. Always moving. Most contract caters aren't mobile enough. But actors and film crew love coffee and snacks. So you build a fully mobile self-sustained coffee van. You approach film production companies and offer your completely mobile coffee van that goes anywhere as a service. You charge a flat fee, they can have as much coffee and snacks as they want. But you know that most people overestimate how much coffee and snacks they will eat. So you know the flat fee is a much more profitable offer and the hiring company thinks they are getting a great deal.

Hopefully, the examples above show you how you need to be niche and LOVE the proposition your going to be offering to your new customers.

I don't have the funding?

This is THE main stumbling block (excuse) to people starting their own business. 

My main advice on this is don't get outside funding. Avoid it at all costs. Angel investors, crowdfunding, friends, wealthy acquaintances, banks, funding platforms. Avoid them all.

Start small and stay small. Don't have lofty ambitions for 100 employees or a chain of 12 shops. The bigger you are the bigger your problems. You may end up there but don't plan to be there at the beginning. You will way overestimate the funding you need.

By starting small you can start on very little funds, you'd be surprised how little you can get started on.

I get if you're starting a restaurant/cafe or manufacturing plant, then yes you will need funding. 

Ditch the detailed Business Plan

I've never written a business plan. Yet most people and banks say "Oh you must have a business plan". Your main benefit of being small is your agility, the ability to identify opportunities and change course. A plan will stop you from doing this. Anyway, how many plans are right, who goes back after 2 years and says "oh look I was spot on with my numbers and projections 2 years ago". No one! At best its a guess. 

I do look at problems and have a rough plan of how I'm going to fix it. But im fluid, it changes, daily. I certainly don't write it down and stick to that plan. Neither should you.

In society we focus too much on how big you are: We judge a company by turnover or number of staff. This is rubbish. Look at all the high profile names that have disappeared over the last 10 years. If it's just you, a laptop, a mobile phone, and a kitchen table. Then that's just fine. As long as your profitable and generating cash who cares.

Go you.