According to the Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages at the beginning of 2011, in Missouri (where I live) small businesses that have less than 50 employees, makes up 94% of all businesses in the state. I suspect that those numbers are similar throughout the nation although I have not verified that. In any case, both state and federal governments agree that small businesses are the driving force of our economy. Contrary to popular opinion, I predict that this number will actually increase in the coming years despite the ongoing recession.
Everywhere I look people are beginning to wake up and realize that they have sold their souls for a dollar. They have given up their freedom for what they mistakenly believe is a “secure paycheck”. In reality people have lost their independence, their identity and I even their security.
Yes, the odds are against the success of a startup business. But the odds can greatly be altered in favor of the entrepreneur who is prepared with the right knowledge and actions. The basics of starting and running a successful small business really is simple. Simple, however, does not mean easy. From what I have read, performing an emergency Tracheotomy on someone using a pocket knife and the barrel of an ink pen sounds pretty simple. But how many of us could actually slit someone’s throat, stick our fingers into the blood and flesh and attach a pen barrel to their wind pipe?
From my experience consulting with hundreds of small businesses and start ups, the problems are almost always the same thing. The biggest barrier to our success is almost always ourselves and our own misplaced desires. If you are a creative type or an artist, then that is strike one against you. Speaking as an artist and designer, I can tell you that this has always weighed me down like an anchor when it came to succeeding financially. If you are really into a hobby and want to earn a living at it, that is another strike against you. If you are a perfectionist (me too), bam..another strike.
But all of these can be overcome if you are aware of them and make a conscious effort to control your gifts. In your own small business you will be able to use your talents, but you cannot let your talents dictate your business! There is an old saying, “Perfection is the Enemy of the Accomplished“. Don’t let your desire for perfection keep you from accomplishing your task. Most often the difference to the end user is minor. However, the difference to the perfectionist can rob you of valuable hours, days or months.
Notice I did not mention being poor, smart, good looking, likable (although this one does help greatly), or unlucky as an opposition to being successful in a simple small business. These attributes are simply excuses for failure, not causes.
You have heard it a million times. The first step is simple! Find a need and fill it. But how do you find a need? How do you fill it and how do you fill it with the right thing? How do you fill it with something that you can be passionate about for the next several years? How do you let others know that you can fill the need and how much should you charge? How do you stay ahead of competition when competition sees that you have found a need and are filling it?
Well look around:
- Right now there is a need for less expensive energy. Could you start a business installing simple solar systems?
- There is a demand for jobs. Can you offer a job placement service or become a headhunter for large corporations?
- Everyone seems to be buying tablet computers. Can you build a retail store or website that supplies replacement batteries or apps?
- After every major disaster, like the recent hurricanes, there is a demand for temporary shelter, clean up crews, generators, tents and construction.
- As the recession continues, crime increases. Can you provide a security service, install security cameras or patrol neighborhoods for a small charge.
- I have discovered a niche where small business owners are overwhelmed with the Internet, but feel they need a web presence. We help.
- People are losing their homes by the thousands. Can you provide inexpensive shelter?
The list goes on and on. If you can train your mind to watch for opportunities you will never be without one. At least three good niches come my way every week. Granted, some may be better than others. My problem has always been not having enough time or resources to pursue all the opportunities. However, that is actually a blessing. Chasing too many opportunities is just as bad if not worse as feeling like you have none.
So start looking. Watch the news, listen to your neighbors complain and take a look at your own life. Look for problems and then look for solutions. If you look, I bet you can find at least three possible businesses to start this week.