STARTING YOUR BUSINESS (Part 2)
THE GOLDEN CHILD
Incubation is actually the foundation of the business. It is the period when the thousand and one ideas in your head needs to be streamlined into a system that will work out for the business idea, while looking into possible challenges and other risk factors to avoid mistakes. Knowing how to get your idea off the ground and through which program is hard enough, yet knowing when to make use of the programs can even be more difficult to figure out. You have a passion, a dream, and you want to turn it into a viable business. Most businesses will fail without having a very sound incubation period. You must understand that to get the most of your venture business, incubators are vital in improving results. Incubators provide you with management and mentoring programs, access to market resources, networking opportunities and shared co-working spaces, and plenty of knowledge and business skills training. Yet, although business incubators are designed to work with startups and early-stage companies, more often than not, entrepreneurs adopt these programs, quite late in their business development, when the chances for change are slim. Perhaps, more often than not, this is borne out of the reason that the idea is “too green” to expose to anyone just yet.
For clarity, we shall be looking at avenues and a few ways and pointers in which ideas could be nurtured.
- Education: It is expedient that basic education be gotten. Most times qualification is not so important but an open mind to learn and aspire to know more is vital
- Skill acquisition/apprenticeship: Trade could be learned or technical know how could be passed on. Skills and ideas could be acquired over a period. A popular platform is the (IBIP) The Ibo business incubation platform common among the Eastern part of Nigeria. Masters are mandated to provide rent and startup capital for their boys after a specified number of meritorious service years.
- SME development / training by organizations: Most organizations periodically organize training for small and medium business owners. Book keeping and managerial skills are imparted to enable them stand the test of time. A lot of could be acquired here.
- Books: Many business ideas had been penned down reading will broaden one’s mind on how to develop and build on your business ideas.
- Internet: The importance of the internet cannot be overemphasized, tips on how to make the already developed business idea better can be gotten once you have a smart phone and access to the internet. It’s easier now to carry out market research from the comfort of your bed. Google forms and Survey Monkey are your go to for easy market research.
After this process it is expected that you find a business that works for you and go with it. Consistency is key.
This is the birth place of all that the business owner has learned. It is very important for the would-be entrepreneur to have a vision and a mission. Points to consider here are:
- Vision statement is the vision of the business owner.
- Mission statement is what the owner intends to achieve over time.
- Draw up a detailed business plan: this article is detailed and should help in this phase (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/38290_).
- Capital: This will determine the volume of the business. Some businesses demand so much and can never succeed without a basic minimum capital.
- Location: Business location is very important. It must be accessible to customers and not too far from required infrastructure to drive growth.
- Prevailing Situation: Some businesses cannot do well in certain condition. For example, it will not be too good to go into oil and gas at a time like this where vessels are unsold and oil prices crashing. In this Covid era also not every type of business will do well. It is vital to look well before leaping.
- Culture: selling alcoholic beverages in a Sharia zone could have some unhealthy growth implications.
- Market and marketing: A better understanding of a product market and other marketing collaterals are highly needed bf delving into the trade.
- Right Staffing Very vital as visions cannot be achieved with the wrong set of staff.
- Security: Protecting the business assets is as important as the investment made, An external security outfit could be hired to manage this.
- SWOT analysis: A better understanding of your strength, weakness Opportunities and Threats is very important.
TEETHING PROBLEMS AND BREAK-EVEN POINT
After take-off, care should be taken to adequately set up the right structures and supervise well so as to withstand any challenges that may arise. To achieve this, the following is very vital.
- Book keeping: the day to day financial activities of any business is key. That will at a glance let you know how you are fairing.
- Set Up and reporting system: This is the way the business owner wants to run the affairs of the business and positioning of staff in the organogram.
FOUR INCUBATION STEPS EVERY ENTREPRENEURS MUST TAKE:
1. Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes Before It’s Too Late
Quite often entrepreneurs think that ideation and prototyping should come first before incubation, this is usually not a good idea. These processes should always happen simultaneously; the incubation period is a time for trial and error. Early business incubation provides you with the opportunity to make mistakes, change your ideas, become more flexible and prepare for failure before you invest too much money, time and emotion into the specifics of your business, that may not be successful without a rigorous incubation process. Great ideas that metamorphose into successful businesses are often flukes that happen out of luck, or because you are experiencing the problem that your product is solving, however these flukes do not occur without hard work and dedication. As an entrepreneur you must allow yourself the freedom to negotiate chance, influence and drive so as to form a strong, viable and stable business.
2. See Incubation as a Learning Experience — Because It Is
Although business incubation is not an easy feat, it is important to see the process as a learning experience. The process of creating and developing a business is challenging and requires a lot of work, yet you must allow yourself to be challenged in your assumptions on how to build a business. The “trial and error” component during an incubation may turn out leading you to discover that your business is not viable, so you might have to find another mean to reach the same goal. Or you may have even stopped and start from scratch to do something new. Either way, you will have learnt from your mistakes before you over invest in your business, however you will be much more confident when you finally choose to invest your refined product because it has been put through these trials and tribulations. It is always important to come into any incubation program with a strong, clear idea of what you want your organization to become, joining in the early stages of development is vital in maintaining flexibility to your development process and what the final product may look like. This is especially vital if it is your first venture, or you have a limited background in business.
3. Define and Design Your Business Logically
Early incubation is crucial in the development of an effective and consistent business. You must however through your incubation program clearly define and outline the key steps in developing your business and creating a successful and comprehensive visual pitch that structures your vision so it can be easily accessed and understood by investors. Without using these programs in the early stages of development, entrepreneurs often feel overwhelmed and as if their project is out of their own control. They attempt to create a business model and pitch without undertaking a clearly defined and detailed program that helps to build that business, taking into account flaws, faults and adversities.
4. Eliminate Unforeseen Challenges with Mentors Tailored to Your Organization
Early intervention by industry professionals through mentoring programs, are vital to the initial development of every organization. By having a mentor to oversee and follow through with the step-by-step development process of your venture, you are privy to an external point of view and thus are able to avoid unforeseen challenges and trials by someone who has been specifically tailored to your sector, organization and skillset. Having a working relationship with an industry specific mentor also opens up the opportunity for possible networking opportunities. Many mentors have become inspired by their protégé’s projects and shared their passions and adversaries with other people in the sector, increasing their level of valuable, external experience. And who knows, many mentor relationships extend long after the incubation period; some continuing their role as mentors and some even joining Board of Advisors.