During my MBA course and more than 8 years after it even today, I heard and still keep hearing a lot of my batchmates, ex-colleagues and friends repeatedly say one thing. “Business karna hai yaaaarr!!”
We have all been star-struck by the spectacular success of the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Jack Mas and back home the Bansals of the world. And I bet all of us have either heard it from almost every one of your friends and acquaintances or an inner voice in yourself egging you on to leave your job and start your own business. I heard this voice for 6 years post my MBA before I finally took the plunge into the perilous yet exciting journey of starting my own business. And here’s what I have learnt in the very short period of 2 years that I have been running my business. Below are the essential questions to ask yourself if and before you decide to take this life-changing decision to start your own business:
Am I thinking of starting a business just because I am frustrated with my job?
If that’s your primary motivation, STOP. I think you’re basing such a big decision of your life on the wrong foundation.
Do I have a killer idea for a business?
Great businesses start with a great idea. “Ek idea jo badal de aapki duniya”. This idea can be the result of serious thought and MUST fulfil an unfulfilled need or solve a problem. Simply put, every need and problem in our country and in the world is an opportunity for business. The source of the idea should preferably not be a random thought during a drinking bout.
Have I tested this idea?
Ask the people around you if they would buy the product or service you have in mind and what would they be ready to pay for it? Do your own little market survey. Online tools like surveymonkey, etc. are easy and cost effective ways of doing this. This way, you will identify potential weak links in your business idea. You might even have to drop the idea entirely. That’s fine. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t get too attached to an idea and move on if you think it will not work. There is an ocean of ideas out there. You just need one that will work.
Do I have a business plan with cash flow projections at least for the first 2 years?
Try to account for as minor details of the business as possible. I’m not saying that things will happen exactly as projected, but its good to keep you on track and to act as a guiding path to stop you from straying too far from it.
Have I provisioned for fixed expenses and liabilities for the time before break-even?
If you are married, you might have most probably have some loan on your head. Calculate your fixed expenses and liabilities for at least a year, preferably two and provision for them apart from your projected business expenses till you plan to break even. Many businesses with great potential fail because the founder runs out of money sooner than expected because the expenses were not provisioned for. If you are a bachelor with no fixed liabilities, you can have a free run.
Have I taken my family into confidence before I take this decision?
This is probably the most important question you must ask yourself. Our family is the most important thing in our life. Your business is only going to succeed if they become the wind in your sails. And that will only happen if you have taken them into confidence before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey.
There might be several other considerations and this list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. It’s what I followed. Now I am no Jack Ma (yet) but there’s one thing I am confident of. We are from IMNU, so we can safely claim to have a basic level of intelligence. Well, at least most of us can. All that you need is a will of steel and fire in your belly and a never say die attitude and no-one and nothing can stop you from achieving your entrepreneurial dream, no matter how big it is.
As a wise person once said, “If you think it is possible, you are right. If you think it is not possible, you are right again.”
By Hemant Kelkar |Batch 2008-10| Entrepreneur (Teaching)