For the heck of it, I took a poll of about 1,000 people looking to start their own businesses. I asked them a series of questions ranging from, “Were your parent’s self-employed?” to “How do you behave at a cocktail party?” This is far from scientific, but its data that I’ve condensed over the years of being one in the ranks, and although there is no right answer to any of them, it gives a general idea of knowledge and style.
One question’s response blew me away…do you want to have a go at it? Ok:
The main thing you need to start a business is:
2) An Idea or Product
3) Dedication and Hard Work
Go ahead, think about it for a little bit.
1) Money: 37%
2) An Idea or Product: 35%
3) Dedication and Hard Work: 27%
4) Customers: 1%
Now, granted, ALL of these factors are necessary to have a successful business:
You need capital. If you’re going to sell a product or service, you’ll need some funds to get it going. Even if its an Internet business, (the cheapest to start!) you’ll still have hosting fees and marketing costs. But, money isn’t the main thing you need. You can always get it from your credit cards, (don’t even ask how much debt I went into to start some of my businesses) or by doing joint-ventures with people who have what you lack. Nope. Money isn’t the main thing.
Ideas and products are necessary as well. Most businesses start by creating a product or service and then take it to market. Remember, however, most businesses fail. This is why I embrace the concept of reverse marketing: find out what people want and need, and then give it to them. The products and services themselves don’t have to be a passion of yours…you don’t even have to like them. You just have to find out what other people want, and then find a way to give it to them.
Dedication and hard work are definitely a factor in starting a business. There will certainly be road-blocks along the way, and it is imperative to remain focused. However, you can always hire others to remain focused for you. If you’re more of an idea person, and you are rotten at the nuts and bolts of an operation, there is nothing wrong with finding someone who has what you lack. Yes, dedication is good, but it’s not a necessity.
By now, you’ve probably figured out the answer, haven’t you?
Yes, it’s customers.
The main thing you need to start a business is, has been, and always will be: customers.
If you don’t have customers, it doesn’t matter what funds you have as capital, or your snazzy marketing campaign.
If you don’t have customers, it doesn’t matter what kind of bells and whistles you have on on the product or services you offer.
If you don’t have customers, it doesn’t matter how much dedication you have.
If you don’t have “hungry fish” waiting in the water, begging for whatever it is you have, pounding on your door waiting for you to open shop…it doesn’t matter. Your business will not fly.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “But, without marketing and advertising, without money, without products, how can I find those customers? I need those other things to get customers to my door.”
No, darlin’, you don’t.
What you need to do is to figure out what kind of people you want as customers and then find where they’re gathering: on message boards, in professional organisations, on LinkedIn, in online communities and groups. Find out where people are, and find out what they need. Find out what they’re complaining about. If you prefer an offline business, go to Chamber of Commerce meetings, or find events through Soloprenerds and Meetup. talk to folks in the neighborhood, network, learn, and most importantly: LISTEN.
These are your customers.
Once you find out what they want and need, once you discover how to make their lives better, then you can raise capital, spend money on marketing, (although ideally, most of it would be through word of mouth at this point) product or service development, and dedicate yourself to your customers, so that they’ll keep coming back.
(Oops, I think I just gave away the secret of how to become wealthy.)
Know thy customer: The golden rule of business.
Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!