Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship can be both exhilarating and daunting. Not for the faint of heart, it can sometimes zap your time, energy and finances, before you can create a business that is growing and capable of paying you a livable wage, let alone the abundant lifestyle so many would be entrepreneurs dream about. While the promise of creative freedom and potential financial success is alluring, it’s crucial to approach this path with careful consideration. In this article, we’ll explore critical factors aspiring entrepreneurs should know and consider before taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
Identify Your Niche and Passion:
Before diving in, pinpoint a niche or industry that aligns with your interests and expertise. Entrepreneurs often have a skill or educational background they can leverage into a business. When I leapt off the corporate ladder, I had 25 years of Procurement and Supply Chain experience yet still considered opening a franchise such as Pet Value or Booster Juice before finally deciding on ProcurePro, providing procurement consulting. Whatever you choose you must be passionate to see it through the tough times. Passion fuels perseverance in the face of challenges.
Market Research and Validation:
Conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience, competition, and potential demand for your product or service. Validate your idea through surveys, focus groups, or pilot testing. If you build it, they may not come. Think you have a brilliant idea? You must validate it to ensure there is a market to sell your product or service. Before launching ProcureHub, our B2B Services marketplace, we partnered with Ontario Tech University working with students from the Capstone Program to perform research on viability, potential platforms to use and conducted surveys with potential users to gauge interest.
Craft a Solid Business Plan:
A well-structured business plan outlines your objectives, strategies, financial projections, and operational details. This document is crucial for securing funding and guiding your business forward. My initial Business Plan for ProcurePro, created 10 years ago, never stopped evolving as my business grew and matured over time and has served as a blueprint to continue to build my business. It forced me to think seriously about HOW I would achieve my dream of building a successful business.
Evaluate your financial situation. Determine the initial capital required to start and sustain your business. Budget for both foreseeable and unforeseeable expenses. This may be the most critical and challenging consideration affecting your decision to take the leap to become an entrepreneur. When I started ProcurePro I was lucky enough to have saved six months of income to sustain my family while building out the business. It actually took over a year to finally start paying myself a meager salary which was fully 1/3 of what I had made in my cushy corporate job before I took the leap. I literally cashed in my retirement savings, RRSP’s and sold off my family cottage in order to keep going. Ten years later following the pandemic which crushed so many businesses I’m arguably even further behind having to take on commercial and personal debt to keep the business operating and build out ProcureHub. The financial stress by far is the biggest factor that can crush you and your dreams. If you are truly passionate and serious, you will find a way!
Legal and Regulatory Compliance:
Familiarize yourself with local, provincial and federal laws and regulations that pertain to your industry. This includes business licenses, permits, taxes, and intellectual property considerations. Unless you are prepared to immerse yourself and get a law degree, you MUST consult a Lawyer and Accountant for professional advice first before deciding to open a business. You can find legal and accounting advisors on ProcureHub!
Build a Supportive Network:
Surround yourself with mentors, advisors, and like-minded entrepreneurs. Networking provides valuable insights, connections, and emotional support during challenging times. Entrepreneurs must know everything about everything related to running a business or at least know someone who does. That thing your good at, or idea you think will take off. It’s only the beginning of the things you must get good at and master. Financial management, technology, marketing and sales are all things you need to build competence in and having a strong group of advisors, connections and partners will be critical to your ability to grow. After ten years as an entrepreneur, I still HATE sales, yet I MUST master it or fail. It’s why I built ProcureHub, to help entrepreneurs like you.
Embrace Adaptability and Resilience:
Entrepreneurship is dynamic and often unpredictable. Be prepared to adapt to changing market conditions and bounce back from setbacks. The pandemic as I discussed above, was devastating for so many entrepreneurs and for some, causing them and their businesses to fail. While arguably no one predicted the sheer scale and impact of the pandemic, those who were able to adapt, pivot their business and even embrace the effects of the pandemic survived and are even thriving. ProcureHub, a B2B Services Marketplace while conceived before the pandemic could not have been launched had my team and I, not recognized the shift to online buying, by B2B buyers. Statistics show, since the pandemic that 83% of all B2B buyers now prefer to buy online. You must be adaptable and become resilient to find a way and just keep going!
Effective Time Management:
Time is a precious resource for entrepreneurs. You must develop strong time management skills to prioritize tasks, delegate when necessary, and maintain work-life balance. My team and I prioritize everything we do against our strategic goals. Our primary goal focuses on our customers, identifying new opportunities to serve them while driving new revenue. Categorized as “A” priorities, we assign an individual accountable with realistic timelines to complete. We review our progress weekly to stay focused on achieving our goals.
Invest in Continuous Learning:
Stay updated with industry trends, emerging technologies, and best practices. Continuous learning ensures you remain competitive and innovative. As discussed earlier, you need to learn critical skills in finance, marketing and sales to grow and scale your business. There’s a wealth of knowledge available for free and for a fee online, through YouTube, LinkedIn and Udemy. For those looking to upgrade their skills check out ProcureHub Training. Want to dive deeper into Procurement? We offer many live and self-paced online learning opportunities. You can checkout our training here.
Marketing and Branding Strategy:
Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to reach and engage your target audience. Establish a strong brand identity that reflects your values and resonates with customers, easier said than done I know. This can be really challenging to get right, and I highly suggest, if you’re not a trained marketing expert with many years of experience be prepared to dive deep into learning and mastering digital marketing or hire a verified expert. You will waste thousands of hours and dollars spraying and praying that something works. To find a qualified and verified marketing expert visit http://www.procurehub.ca and search Marketing.
Put your customers at the center of your business and prioritize everything you do around them. Understand their needs, gather feedback, and provide exceptional service to build long-lasting and trusting relationships. As a consultant, I’m paid to give the best advice possible based upon my over three decades of experience. I am an expert at Procurement and Supply chain and my greatest satisfaction is using that superpower to help my customers. Often, it’s helping them make sense of their technology needs to run and grow their business such as a new financial system to bill customers, manage their expenses more efficiently, run payroll or it can be helping them select an IT support provider to keep their business running smoothly. My clients consider me to be an important member of their team and trust me to manage the procurement of their technology and negotiate preferred contract terms. When your customers are willing to provide you testimonials and tell you that you are “part of the family” you know you’re on the right path. I LOVE my customers!
Risk Management and Contingency Planning:
Identify potential risks and have contingency plans in place. This could include financial buffers, insurance coverage, and crisis management strategies. As with all businesses you need to ensure you have the requisite cash flow during lean times to keep your business open and your team employed. While I had six months buffer when the pandemic hit it proved to be too little. I had to cut drastically all expenses, including my salary, office space and anything not directly related to delivering my services while seeking out grants, loans and pivoting, bobbing and weaving to stay afloat. Be prepared for tough times, they will come and be 10x tougher than you think. Good news is if you plan, you can weather the storm and come out stronger for it.
Becoming an entrepreneur is a thrilling endeavour, but it requires careful planning, dedication, and adaptability. Fail to Plan? Plan to Fail! By considering these essential factors, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that come your way. Remember, success in entrepreneurship is a journey, not a destination. Stay passionate, persistent, and open to learning, and you’ll be well on your way to building a thriving business.
About the Author
Jill Button is the President and CEO of ProcurePro consulting, the parent company of ProcureHub. To get in touch, you can email her, book a customer discovery meeting or explore more articles from Jill.