Do you want a steady source of primary or secondary income from a business or service? Do you dream of being a successful entrepreneur? Of being your own boss? Sebi Registered Investment advisor and fee-only financial planner Vikram Krishnamoorthy discusses four ways to start any business from scratch and grow it steadily. Vikram is a successful entrepreneur with a solid fee-only fin planning practice that is growing from strength to strength.
Like every kid, I too dreamt of starting a business from time to time. Perhaps my desire/window has passed, but I respect any person who takes on the risk of being responsible for the income they generate in every way imaginable. If that entrepreneur diligently tracks the source of their business and constantly seeks ways to improve their service, my respect grows multi-fold. Fee-only advisors Melvin Joseph (Read about his determined struggle to the top) and Vikram are shining beacons of inspiration for everyone in this respect.
Three of the four steps mentioned below are evident from Vikram’s websites (link below) and how he describes his approach to financial planning – in person, (we met twice during the fee-only India meets at Mumbai and Hyderabad) and also in his previous guest posts:
Fee-only Advisor Journey: Vikram Krishnamoorthy’s organized rise to the top You would agree that it takes guts and confidence in oneself to do what Vikram did.
The fourth step – learning from analytics, we (myself, Ashal and the fee-only advisors) got a first-hand demonstration at Hyderabad.
If you wish to work on your money management with Vikram, you can consult him via his website: insightful.in
Over to Vikram. After you go through the steps, if you need some inspiration on making more money, check out the 40 fantastic ways suggested by members of Asan Ideas of Wealth (Facebook group) at the end of the post.
Most people, at some stage in their lives, would have mulled over the idea of starting something on their own, a business or a service. Not many people go ahead with it as it is a very big and difficult decision. There are many factors that impact this decision like personal finances, family situation or just the person’s character of being risk-averse and comfortable with a stable job.
However, I think times are changing and more people than ever before consider this seriously. It is always a great feeling to be your own boss, to know that your income is not dependant on another person’s business rather than on your efforts alone.
Gone are the days when you needed a lot of financial resources, backing or experience to start off a business. More businesses are being built on passion rather than financial ability these days. A college student or a housewife with a few hours to spare every week can start something on their own and make their own mark, irrespective of their location, age or financial status. All you need to do is to identify something that adds value to customers, anything that makes their life better. It could be a physical product, an online service, or running a website, blog or a YouTube channel.
This is a generalized article about how anyone can start off on their own and build something from scratch, grow it slowly and steadily. I worked as a typical employee for 8 years and then started off on my own after that. These are the things I learned and still keep learning, and some of the most important points I feel that should be considered.
It should revolve around you:
Linking your business to your personality is one of the most essential aspects when starting off. Your business should revolve around your core skills and character, rather than trying to imitate and replicate others. Identify your unique skills, passions, ethics and build your business around that. Your skills need not be just technical. It could also be soft skills like social skills, communication skills or selling skills.
When you do something that inspires you and you do it passionately, it reflects in your business and makes it feel more ‘authentic’. Customers can feel that too and it leads to long-term success. Your business will be a big part of your life. If it also matches your personality, you would enjoy growing with it while also making it easier to persevere through tough times.
The Value you provide:
To start a business, the first step is to identify the core value of what you are providing. It sounds simple but it is not. Most people start with an idea or product and then try to convince why that idea is good. But businesses that succeed start with identifying a problem, then create a product or service to solve that problem or add value to the client that they never knew they needed a solution for.
There could be many existing businesses offering solutions for the same problem, but that is where you have to figure out a way to stand out from them. You can offer a similar solution, in your own unique way or approach, you would then stand out. You have to figure out your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’.
It is also important to identify your target customers very clearly and design your value to that group. For example, Audi and Tata are in the same business of selling cars, but they don’t necessarily target each other’s customers. Most small businesses fail because they don’t define who they want to target or keep changing targets.
Branding and visibility:
‘Branding’ should be one of the biggest focus areas before starting off. Many people wrongly think that branding is all about getting a logo and a name, but it is much more than just that. It is about how people perceive what you do. Everything from where customers first hear about you, the way your website looks and feels, the language you use, to the quality of the service you provide adds to the brand. The ‘emotional reaction’ that your target customers get when they see and interact with you is what defines your brand.
You have the opportunity to ‘design’ how you want potential customers to perceive you through branding. You should not leave that perception to chance. Understand the core value that you are offering, who you are providing that to, and communicate that value to target customers clearly through proper branding.
Branding should not be an afterthought after you start, but the first thing you do. Everything you do after that should be aligned towards building your brand. There is much more to talk about what branding really is and its importance, but let’s move on. I encourage you to learn more about it online.
You should also be visible to your target customers. These days, it is relatively easier to be visible, especially online. Having a website that clearly shows what you offer is one of the basic requirements. Apart from having your website, you should also ensure that target customers hear about you and reach on your website.
Continuous improvement and business analytics:
All this said the real test starts when you actually start providing the products or services. Most assumptions go wrong and you will face new challenges every day. But that is the interesting part of building something from scratch, going thru the process of learning what works and what does not. As long as you are flexible, make constant improvements, be patient, and stay focused on the true value that you provide, you will succeed in what you do.
Just as in investments, the magic of compounding applies to grow a business too. Making a 1% improvement each day to a simple process or approach in your business will slowly, but gradually compound to a massive improvement over time and your business will only logically grow.
But in order to do continuous improvement, you need to understand what is working and what is not. This is where business analytics comes in. From the day you start, you should capture and analyze every little data that you can. Eg, website traffic, conversions, sales numbers, how are customers finding you, productivity, etc., this list can be endless.
When you have data and it shows positive and negative trends, it forces you to make the right decisions and helps your business move in the right direction rather than running around in circles. Over time, your business will become more focused, more efficient and more profitable. Data analytics is the key to running an efficient and sustainable business for the long term.
It has never been easier for someone to start a business on their own, the opportunities and resources are endless. For most people, the only thing stopping them from trying is ‘themselves’. Not all businesses succeed, but if you have the passion and the will, and you commit to doing it in a structured and professional way, you will have a better chance at success.
Your personal finances also play a big part in this. If you can structure your personal finances in a way that you generate passive income to take care of your basic needs in life, you would be able to make this move without fears and build the business with less stress. Having a proper financial plan on your personal side helps you with this.
Below are the points to simplify the above post.
- Identify a business or service that closely matches personality, passion, and skills.
- Understand the true value that you are providing and how you stand out from the others.
- Build your ‘brand’ around the above 2 points, communicating clearly and being visible to your target customers.
- Continuously learn and improve, growing your business steadily thru business analytics.
Thanks to dear Pattu for inviting me to write on this topic. I hope that the above motivates at least a fraction of the people reading it to follow their dream of starting something on their own. All the best to them.
If you wish to work on your money management with Vikram, you can consult him via his website: insightful.in
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