guest commentary by David Potts
Potts is a certified public accountant with more than 25 years experience (Although every effort is made to provide you accurate and timely tax information, it is general in nature and not specific to your facts and circumstances. Consult a qualified tax professional to discuss your particular case.)
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I wonder what the word count would be if you took all the negative and discouraging words spoken in, about, and around the Republican and Democratic National Conventions the past couple of weeks?
It seems like billions, maybe trillions of words. I’ve reached my fatigue point. I was beginning to think I should close down shop here and move to Asia to re-start my business. Then I remembered that I had an uncle who began his business during the Great Depression and was very successful. And we are not in the Great Depression now.
My clients are businesses and business owners and they are making money. I’m making money. If you want to start a business, today is as good as any day to start.
If you make the decision to start a business, the next decision you have to make is what type of business to start. I don’t mean will it be a corporation or a partnership or a proprietorship. I mean what product or service will your business offer to potential customers.
In reading books, magazines, and blog posts on starting a business, it seems the most prominent criteria in determining what business to start are your passions. Follow your passion!
Other people will tell you to create something new or do something that will change the world for the better. My advice is to ask yourself first will your idea make money. It is a lot easier to be passionate about your business when it makes you money. As to creating a product or service that is really new and will change the world in such a way that you win a Nobel Peace Prize and end up listed in Forbes as one of the world’s richest people, good luck. It is a worthy goal to start a business that is successful in making you and your family a great living.
If you are a pragmatist, let me recommend you a good book: “Growing a Business” by Paul Hawken. This book was first published in 1988 and I have had it on my own bookshelf since 1988. PBS produced a multipart series based on this book that I still have somewhere on VHS tapes. Twenty-five years later it is still relevant and an important read for someone starting a business.
If you find yourself wanting to start a business and are having difficulty in deciding what business to start, the subtitles in chapter 4 can provide you a checklist of ideas to consider when creating your business idea. Below is a bullet list with some of the subtitles.
• Re-create something that has been lost
• Enhance the commonplace
• Raise the ante
• Reveal a business within a business
• Restore a business
• Be the most complete
• Be the low-cost provider
It would be best if you just bought and read the book to understand Mr. Hawkins’ advice when considering how to “re-create something that has been lost” or “enhance the commonplace”, but the above list alone is enough to get your ideas flowing.
An example of Mr. Hawkins advice under the subtitle” Raise the Ante” reads: “When going into a business, never just meet the competition. Examine a product or business closely and make a detailed list of all the qualities that could improve it in your customer’s eyes. Every year the stakes get higher in business, so you want to be the person who sets the stakes, not plays catch-up.”
Practical advice. No Steve Jobs required.
I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years who had the desire to start or own a business. Deciding what business to start or which business to buy, I believe, might be the most difficult decision for these people to make. If you are in a place in your life where you have the desire and the” want to” to start a business, read “Growing a Business” or another book that covers the subject.
Better yet, talk to business owners that have been in business for many years. Ask them, “How did you get into your business? Why did you get into your business”. Listen intensely. Then use your common sense.
Just remember the old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”