Article written for www.everythingmom.ca
Everybody has something they are passionate about whether it's collecting vintage wines, hiding at Chapters in the Philippa Gregory section or sewing baby blankets. Sometimes, every so often, that passion starts to become something else. An idea becomes a possibility; the possibility becomes a day dream and slowly, it evolves into that magical statement, "what if?". What if I could turn this hobby of mine into a viable business? What if I could actually earn an income, avoid daycare and NOT return to my day job after mat leave is over? Where do I go next?
Many start-up entrepreneurs are over confident ( I know I was!) and under aware of what is involved. But in all fairness, it is a tough plunge to take! How do you know whether to dive in or not?
- do you eat, sleep and breathe your business concept?
-have you made yourself an expert in your field?
-have you researched all your competitors, to see what they are doing right (and wrong?)
-are you prepared to work harder than you ever have in your entire life?
-do you have the financial backing to take the hit of losing your income for awhile or would that put your family at risk?
-are you passionate, resourceful and energetic?
If you have created a product, service or business that makes your heart race with excitement and you have covered the start-up questions. It's time to take yourself to the next step. Aside from qualifying your idea from friends and family, my advice would be to find a consultant in your field who can cut your learning curve time in half. Putting your business plan together with the aid of somebody who has also ate-slept and absorbed your concept will produce faster results and give you objective clarity. Those fabrics, toys or ideas you had, might have already been tried. Don't reinvent a broken wheel. Ask tons of questions and surround yourself with knowledge and industry expertise.
The growth process takes time. If you can take baby steps into your industry, I highly recommend it. Especially in the recession and the volatile economy we are still experiencing. Nowadays with the internet and online everything, you can run many businesses right from your home office. I know on top of my 5 bo bebe stores, I run an entire, 40 page glossy magazine from my office computer. Heck, I could be living in Tahiti and still be running a Calgary based, printed magazine! Research the tools available for online data storage, web hosting, virtual assistants, research the research tools too! There are literally thousands onf online tools that will help you take your business to the next "virtual level" before plunging into signing a longterm commercial lease etc.. I have at least 30 different informational Google Alerts set up for various topics to automatically feed into my email. This keeps me on top of competitors, recalls, industry releases, trade shows, manufacturing issues, European announcements, new trends and more. All served up to my inbox by 8am, every morning, while I sip my morning coffee in my pyjamas.
If you market yourself creatively, use social media and word-of-mouth, you can test the waters of your field without enormous expense. I am a huge believer in creative and "gorilla marketing". When I was still a home-based business doing home-parties, I would hit the zoo on a sunny day and leave flyers on all the windshields of the cars that had a car seat inside them. Labour and time intensive? Not really; 30 minutes by the river on a warm sunny day wasn't exactly difficult. Guess what? It paid off enormously! Be creative, think outside of the proverbial car seat box and most of all, be different. I am a firm believer in being an original. Learn from what everybody else in your field is doing well, then just do it better!
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!