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Business Self Assessment
Self Assessment - are you ready to start a business?

Hopefully, you have just finished reading the article: 'Do you really want to start a business, or do you just want to make some money?' and you have decided that you would indeed like to start a business.

Ok then, the next big question is: 'Are you actually ready to start a business?'

Whilst it's probably true that you may never actually be completely 'ready' as such, and if you wait for that day you may just never do it. there are some things that will make the whole affair easier and more likely to succeed.

If you have made the decision that a business is really what you want, then here is a list of things you might like to consider doing something about before you start:

1 You
  • Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses? You should know what you are good at, and focus on it. That's not to say you can afford not to be across other areas of the business, they are all important. Just don't get bogged down in it.  You can make your identified weaknesses manageable through outsourcing or additional staff. 
  • Do you need training? None of us start out with all the skills we need to run a successful business, but thankfully of not many of those that have succeeded, knew more than you do right now before they started. Difference is they get the picture?
  • Have you found an appropriate mentor? Someone who can offer you sage-like advice, or just bounce ideas off is particularly useful. Just remember it should be someone who can 'guide' you, not some self opinionated windbag...
  • Have you thought about an exit strategy? might sound crazy, but its one of the saddest outcomes for a small business owner to find themselves stuck in a business they can't sell...or leave.

Books that I recommend on the subject of getting yourself 'business ready'

2 Systems, Espionage, Knowledge, Intelligence & Information
  • How long will your business survive if you aren't there?
  • Gathering Market Intelligence, what can you put in place to make sure you are monitoring your own market place, and get input from other sectors? how are you going to know that there is a new tender with your businesses name all over it?
  • Who are your competitors? (yes, you have competitors, even if it's the consumers choice not to buy whatever your 'it has no competition' product is, how are you going to stay aware of what they are doing?
  • Who are your potential collaborators? or partners? an often under-explored avenue of many businesses, how many other businesses are already talking to your customers and selling them something that is related to your product? can you give them an incentive to promote/cross sell yours too?
3 The Business
  • Do you have a business plan? it doesn't need to be complex, it just needs to contain information on the things are going to guide you to what you want to achieve.
  • What's Your business model going to be? not talking about Jennifer Hawkins unfortunately, how is your business going to work? retailer, wholesaler, distributor, service provider, consultancy, lots to choose from, but which one?
  • What's your businesses organisational structure? it's important to map out who is responsible for each part of the business, if you read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber, you will see why its important to have an organisational structure even its still only you...
  • Have you developed a Marketing system? with at least 5 ways to promote your business? direct marketing, affiliate programs, referrals, pay per click & search engine optimisation, business directories, PR & Media
  • How are you going to measure the performance of your business? 'Metrics' is the buzzword, but its a really wonderful thing if a business can have the type of systems that can accurately measure the performance of an advertising campaign by both the direct profit return and customer life value.
4 Finances, Accounts and Tax
  • Have you set up a Business Transaction Account? at a minimum you'll need a separate account to conduct your business with. You may also consider having a GST account (to park the amount collected), a high interest savings account (to park excess funds or capital), and maybe checkout a merchant facility and payment gateway if you are planning on web site transactions.
  • Do you have a Cash flow management facility? - depending on the nature of your business you may need to manage your cash flow with an overdraft or credit card. This will depend on the terms you have negotiated with suppliers and the length of time from your cost outlay to when the customer makes payment.
  • Have you got a good Book keeper and/or Accountant? these guys are amongst your closet partners in business, or least they help keep you out of gaol for tax evasion...unless you're a guru in this area I highly recommend finding a competent and thorough one.
  • How's your credit rating? When you want to arrange finance for the expansion of a business you're going to need some capital. You can use your own funds, but it's more likely going to involve a bank, finance company or investors. All of these are going to be looking for value, opportunity, return and risk mitigation. Honestly, would you lend money to you?

Family & Relationships

  • How do you get them on board? Your family can be your best ally in business, but more often than not, they can be detractors or worse...not sure there is much you can do about it, but be aware that it might happen and try to stay in a positive frame of mind. Remember actions and results will dissolve a lot of fears.
  • Make sure that the business doesn't run you, the business will end up the boss of you, if you let it, do you really need to be doing that right now, really?
  • Make the most of 'family time' and be 'present' I don't want to give family or relationship advice here, but if your business is taking up lots of your time, at very least be present when you are with your family, partner, or that I mean focus on them. Make sure it is quality time.

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