With supposedly serious small business magazines touting headlines on their cover that anyone can start a business without any cash, it seems as though business skills to develop a product or service idea and launch a business are hardly necessary.
But we all know small business magazines with controlled circulations battle on the newsstands. Their hyped up headlines are there to merely tease or tantalise prospective readers but when you turn the pages and find the article it’s the same feeling that you had as a kid when you opened a lucky packet to find some cheap plastic toys inside that break on first use. Oh boy, lucky those lucky packets are no longer around. Yet am told they could make a comeback at one of the larger grocery chains.
The lucky packet advice you get from small business magazines plays out in what is supposed to be the modern saviour of entrepreneurs, which is the business incubator. Incubators are supposed to help inexperienced entrepreneurs with mentoring, business advice, networking opportunities, facilities and perhaps even funding to kickstart their business. However, very often all an incubator provides is some really cheap office or factory space, used furniture, maybe an Internet connection and a canned course. The incubator story is easy to package and sell to institutions, private and government, needing to off load taxpayers’ money in the name of enterprise development.
If you are hellbent on going the business incubator route, and that’s if you can break down the door to get into one of these facilities with your affiliations, then be my guest. Just make sure you ask a couple of sharp questions. Ask for a list of successful start-up owners. Even then, you probably won’t get to the deep truth about the success or not of the business without their latest financial statements. Most of the so-called “evidence” for these business incubators is anecdotal. Little, if any, research exists on whether they are working not.
Your next best bet is a business adviser or mentor. But you have to be wary of any business advice. Business advice is risky. Make sure that you don’t bet your future on advice from someone who claims to be an expert but really isn’t. Typically, a professional business adviser would have knowledge of your type of business, has started one or more businesses of their own and has expertise in your field.
It’s very important that your business adviser is trustworthy, honest and is completely transparent about the fees they charge and what to expect. Just make sure they charge reasonable rates.
If you are a first-time entrepreneur, you need a weather-hardened captain to guide you through stormy waters and the inevitable “valley of death”. This “valley of death” is the time period from when you come up with a new idea to the point where you identify a sustainable and repeatable business model. During this period you need to conduct due diligence on assessing the market potential of your idea, which may take a few months. As one business adviser said, this is where you don’t need an incubator which is really “puppy mills gambling with people’s dreams”.
How some entrepreneurs get to market with their start-ups without experienced and business-hardened mentors is remarkable. Despite being advised by inexperienced friends and family, and informed crowd-sourced investors, a tiny minority manage to be successful despite themselves.
If you are looking for a business adviser that can provide you with hands-on, practical business counselling and management assistance go to Business Idea Accelerator where we will help you validate your market opportunity with customers willing to pay for your product or service.