If you're going to start a business, start it properly. This means having a proper framework in place (accountants, templates for invoices and receipts etc.) and starting out with good intentions. Real business people don't start out in business with the sole purpose of making money, that's a very poor reason to start a business: making money should just be a by-product of another goal. What are possible (good) reasons for starting a business?
TO CREATE OR INNOVATE
If you're good at making something you very likely want to spend as much time as possible or at least more time making that product. Starting a business would allow you to spend more time making or creating the product you like and make a living at the same time.
BUSINESS FOR THE SAKE OF BUSINESS
Doing business can be a goal in itself. You might enjoy the whole lifestyle of a business person: the flexibility, the pressure of needing to make things happen, creating a product, selling it and banking the money. My father started his first business when he was less than 10 years old. He used to help his mother make thobwa or the local brew in his village; then he branched out on his own and started making mandasi or zitumbuwa.
"What were your friends doing when you were making your mandasi?" I asked him.
"They were playing."
This response really struck a chord with me because it showed me one thing: people don't change very much. The so-called "weird" kids that some laugh at because they are pursuing some industrious pursuit that seems a bit geeky or well beyond their age are tomorrow's movers and shakers.
It's never too early to start a business and it's never too late either. Some people were born to be business people, it's in their DNA whilst others grow into enterprise; they find something they love to do and in the process learn that this passion can actually make them some money.
So, what should you think about before you start a business?
You need to write all this on paper because writing it down is a sign of real commitment. How many items will you produce each month? What's your plan for growth? Most people never go beyond the "small business" stage because they don't plan. Planning is key.
You don't need a multi-page business plan to start, either. Personally I think long business plans are a waste of time and an even bigger waste of paper. Some people spend ages on the planning stage because that of course stops them from starting; starting is when things begin to get really hard.
A specific set of goals with realistic deadlines is all you need to embark on your business.
Now go off to register your business and let's get rolling. Struggling for business ideas? I'll give a broad set of rules for coming up with business ideas next week.
"To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing." ~ Eva Young
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For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.