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Old 7th June 2011, 06:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Things to consider BEFORE starting a business

Hi everyone

I'd like to share some tips to all aspiring entrepreneurs out there. Here are a few things that you need to consider BEFORE starting a business. Of course, there are others, but these are the factors that in my opinion are the most important. Feel free to add other things that you think are important!

--

#1: WHO IS YOUR MARKET?


The most important thing for you to consider is what your market will be. In other words, WHO will you be selling your product/service to? Is it housewives? Yuppies? Students? The super rich?

Consider all demographic factors including age, gender, nationality, income levels, education background, etc. Because all of these factors will affect the demand for your product.

As a very simple example: Aquascutum is a brand that would appeal to the older crowd, while Crumpler is a brand that would appeal to the younger crowd. Young people are likely to go to Zouk or Zirca, while older people are likely to go to Tiananmen KTV ;-)


If you don't know who you are selling to, you can't possibly plan your sales effort!



#2 WHAT KIND OF EXPERTISE DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE?


You want to start a tuition centre, but do you have any experience in tuition? Have you worked as a tutor before? Are you familiar with the current school syllabus? Are you familiar with the demands of parents?

And even if you tick all of the above boxes, it doesn't mean that you have what it takes to run a tuition agency. Are you well-versed in management of part-time labour? Are you familiar with advertising channels? Do you have a wide network of friends who are parents with young children of school-going age?

If you are not a subject-matter expert in the area in which you intend to set up a business, DON'T WORRY!

You can always hire an expert to look after these matters. Alternatively, if you don't have the financial resources to hire experts, you can always convince them to join you as partners. Of course, you will have to prove to them that you also have something to offer, skills which will come in useful and that they don't have.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that you can do everything yourself. Entrepreneurs need to be humble and recognise their own limitations. At the same time, they need to recognise talent and deploy talented people efficiently.

Liu Bei was not the best military commander, the best swordsman or the best strategist. However, he was wise enough to recruit Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun and Zhuge Liang to work for him. They all worked for him WILLINGLY even though they had more expertise than him in their respective fields. This is a skill that you need to master if you want to be a successful entrepreneur!

In fact, having the right team is so important that the famous management guru Jack Welch (ex-CEO of General Electric) once said: Get the right people on the bus before deciding where to go!


#3: ARE YOU ADDRESSING A MARKET NEED?

Business is a game of demand/supply economics. If you want to be successful, you need to make sure that your product/service addresses a genuine market need.

If you end up selling ice to eskimos, you are not going to make a whole lot of money!

In order to determine market need, you need to study the market. Virgin Mobile failed miserably in Singapore because they thought that there was a demand for off-the-shelf mobile phones without contracts. So they offered phones at $200-300 with no two-year plan. They thought it would work because it worked in the UK and Australia. However, Singaporeans were perfectly comfortable with signing up for a two-year plan in order to get free phones. So, no one bought Virgin Mobile's phones, and they had to close shop.

Different segments of consumers have different needs. For instance, if you are targeting mass consumers, price will be an important driver of demand. People want to get stuff on the cheap, that's why Groupon is doing so well.

However, if you are targeting the luxury market, price may not be so important. For customers who earn $20,000 a month, they won't really care whether a restaurant serves a meal for $30 or $40. Instead, they will be more concerned with the overall experience, such as service, ambience and presentation. They don't mind shelling out $10 more if these needs can be met.

So, understand your customers and make sure that you are addressing their needs!


All the best to those who want to start their own business!

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