How do I start my own company?
I would like to open a water purification company. I have my own capital but need to know where to start. What are some of the obstacles most of you missed when opening your own company and only learned later on?
I see a lot of the posters who have tried to give good information missed the fact that you are in South Africa. When I noticed that it changed what I was going to say a lot as well. Opening a business in the USA can be very easy and inexpensive. The last start up I did was up and running in two days for peanuts as far as cost. It is actually pretty easy to go on your states web site and file to set up a corporation yourself. But with you being in South Africa that could be different,
I would say the biggest obstacles are that universally no matter how much research you do something will come up that you could never expect no matter how much research you do.
I am sure the news that it may take a few years for your business to be profitable and the failure rate on new businesses is very high.Even though you have the funding do everything you can to make your cash last and think hard and long about spending any money you don't need to.
Don't underestimate the time and effort it takes to start a business. If you plan to work a 40 hour week forget starting a business, When I started my current business I was very under-capitalized and compensated by working long hours and wearing many hats. My average work week in those days was well over 120 hours a week, Even today I work 80 hours a week.
Good luck with your endeavor.
I'd start with the U.S. Small Business Administration, It does more than delivering millions of loans and loan guarantees. It also offers counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses.
Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps from the SBA can help you plan, prepare and manage your business: www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-steps-starting-business
I also reccommend Docstoc.com. Docstoc hosts some of the best quality and widest selection of professional documents (over 20 million) and resources including expert videos, articles and productivity tools to make every small business better. Pricing is just $3 month or $10 year. A real bargain given the quality.
Good luck. I don't know anyone who is sorry they started a business. I do know quite a few that have regrets for not starting one.
- The Pragmatic Web Designer
great advice below from Virginia and Jack...as they tackle the reality of starting a business versus the steps to take. Because my first question is -
Do you have existing products and/or services or do you need to develop/manufacturer them?
If no, then buying an existing business or manufacturer is an option.
I applaud you that you have start up capital, but do not underestimate the amount of money it will take to get to the point of selling your first product and then supporting the business until you are making profit. Do you have a business and/or marketing plan - or is that even one of the first steps you are asking about?
If you are pre-pre start up...then there are 3 things you should do immediately (before spending ANY money)...1. go through every inch of the SBA site and read up, make note and study the list of to do's and resources that are there.
2. engage a business broker (and even a franchise consultant) and discuss what businesses exist already and determine if that is an option. Don't overlook franchises...they could be in the segment you want to be in, and thus have infrastructure that could save you time and money ramping up
3. research your market, competitors and products, and go to Bplans.com and download a business plan template, and work through it on your own, engage others, etc. and determine if the business is what you want.
If you want an obstacle new (and even existing) business owners come up against - and often fail at...is taking the time to research, study, assess, and plan the business they are starting. Do you homework, learn to love research, studying and planning...and if you are good at doing that and even get excited about it - as it is fueling your business success...then you can move to the next step - seeking out how to get it started.
Skip these steps and you can count on burning through your money before ever getting to profit.
After reading all the technical advice offered here...let me weigh in with something different: get help. Don't try to do it all yourself. Either find partners, advisors, or industry insiders who will give you some helpful advice along the way.
Learning the ins and outs of the business + learning the business of business + dealing with the emotional challenges of leading a business = a lot to swallow. You can't consume it all at once so find help.
Consider an interim step such as: Find companies that produce the purification system and become a rep. Discover what it take to sell it at the consumer level. Based on your budget, plan a marketing campaign and test what draws and what doesn't.
Join the appropriate association for water purification. Meet people and learn from them.
Bottom line: find trustworthy help by hiring it, borrowing it, or engaging advisors in areas where you are weak.
Finally, gather regularly with other small business owners to learn from them. It will accelerate your learning and development.
I think it's great that you take on and make your endeavor a success. I lived in indola Africa working as the Creative Director for www.theQfund.org As a contractor from my company Wallman Design and the adverting and marketing specialist to obtain land, market their programs to investors and achieve substantial backup for the schools they built for underprivileged children.
We were able to help get over three hundred children overcome substantial obstacles and grow a self supporting environment in a very complicated area with major politics in this part of Africa. Water was one of the most important values and will be for years to come.
I have read answers to your question below and some elements are very valuable while others are vague and don’t support your first and most important needs which include your branding and marketing initiatives to obtain investment and awareness reaching a targeted market and other outreach groups to help, or what you can afford to do on this level initially.
It’s a wonderful thing you are trying to do and you really need to do research on the competition, and potentially companies in the industry that might want you to join forces.
I'd start by researching the crap out of water purification and that whole industry. I would also start attending networking events and conferences that deal with that topic. Educate yourself in that vertical with the help of those that are in the trenches and you will develop the ability to start asking the hard questions you need to to actually determine if there's an opportunity here and if you have the chops to take it on.
The first step is in knowing your goals and the purpose of the business. is there a market for your product or service? It usually takes around two years for a business to get off the groiunbd so befor you undertake any onerrous paperwork for a busienss that may or may not be successful, I would go with what Virginia below has to say.. The three most important activities with a new business are:
2. promote and
Just get your product out and known and getting people to reach for it and want it. If it takes off like a rocket, then you can hire someone to do the boring paperwork.
I didn't have a business plan initially. I also didn't know who my clients were or how to explain the benefits of what I do. I've figured it out since then.
I also didn't define the core values of the business: Why am I doing? Why is it important to me?
Create an entity early. Follow good basic accounting early. Learn to pay yourself a paycheck early.
Oh, and learn how to balance your life. Owning your own company means there's no clear separation between work and personal time. You have to learn to balance the needs of the different parts of Carike, to keep your life balanced and aligned with your values.
Get a good business-oriented coach, mentor, or consultant to help you out. You will want an experienced mind to bounce ideas off of, and to help you vet some of your own decisions.
I have the same question as Daniel. I worked 6 years for a consumer water purification company Kinetico as the manufacturing engineering manager. So are you doing commercial or residential?