6 small business owners on whether to launch a new venture in 2021
New year, new you, new business...Why put off tomorrow what you can start today? Carpe diem. I love a motivating catchphrase as much as anyone who spends an inordinate amount of time on social media - especially in January! But when it comes to starting a new business in the shadow of COVID, is 2021 really the right time? I asked 6 pioneering Flying Solo members, who’ve maintained successful solo businesses throughout COVID, what they think.
Kate Toon, founder of KateToon.com.au
A fat resounding juicy YES. I know the world feels wobbly, and we’re all looking for stability right now. But in an unstable world, nothing is stable, not even your ‘real’ job. Want to know some companies that started in times of financial trouble and oddness? General Motors (1907), Hewlett Packard (1939) Burger King (1950) Mailchimp (2001). Now of course the starting is one thing, the keeping on is quite another. Truth is, like having a baby, there’s never a good time to start. No amount of planning will help you totally avoid risk, or issues. Hopefully your business will last many years and exist throughout other weird times. It will ride the rollercoaster, and so will you. Be brave, be more shark, mitigate the risk as much as you can, then take the leap of faith.
Catherine Cervasio, founder of AROMABABY
If someone were to ask me ‘should I start a business in 2021’ I would say absolutely – why not? I believe this year is as good as any to begin a business however keep in mind you may have to re-evaluate numbers based on some degree of uncertainly for example on your target audience, your market segment or geographic region. If any of these areas have been impacted by, for example, a change in shopping habits for example retail vs online or border closures (regional or outside Australia) caused by COVID, which may impact your ability to get product to customers, be sure to do some additional homework on risk mitigation before starting off. Likewise, if your business product or service is a discretionary item, could more cautious spending habits by consumers impact your projected sales and in turn, cash flow.
Leanne Faulkner, founder of Fortitude at Work
If you have done your research and have developed a strategic plan that addresses all the key pillars needed for small business growth then go for it! Remember though that in these uncertain times the most important plan you must have is one that addresses how you will care for your biggest business investment – yourself. Now more than ever we’ve seen how important it is to have a personal development strategy that addresses key business growth strategies like founder resilience, social capital and ongoing skill development. Make sure you plan these areas (use the VSBC free mental health template!) just as carefully as you would plan your financial forecast or social media schedule.
Anne McKeown, founder of 2Mpower
If you’ve done thorough market research, see a gap/need in your niche and have a solution then go for it, absolutely! The current climate has adversely affected many businesses but there are just as many others thriving and growing in these conditions. There is never a perfect time. So much is outside our control, often the best laid plans don’t pan out, and other times failures lead us down a path to new opportunities. If you don’t start, you’ll never know. A word of caution, running a business is not easy, as the old saying goes it takes 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. So be in it for the long run, make sure you have enough capital to pay your basic living expenses outside of your expected business income. Most importantly, work on maintaining a positive mindset because if you lose faith in yourself or your business this could be more damaging than any external influence created by governments, markets or customers!
Annette Densham, founder of The Audacious Agency
If the past 12 months has taught us anything, it’s that us human beings are resilient, creative and very good at finding ways to adapt and change. We always have been – if you look at moments in history when we’ve taken our biggest steps forwards, it’s during times of crisis and chaos. If you see a gap in the market, a way to add value to an industry or a product that is just begging to make people’s lives easier, go for it. Start your business. There is always room for new ventures and offerings. BUT … this is the small print, do your homework, put in place systems and processes, get the right help and have a plan. Don’t wing it or think you can open your door and the masses will come. You need to plan – where your clients will come from. how much money you need each month to remain viable, where you will market your wares and what will happen if you have a tight month. If you are going to start a business, do it right so it has consistent and steady growth, and is still around this time next year..
Brook McCarthy, founder of The Hustle & Heart
If you’ve been hoping to start your own business for some time now, WHEN is the perfect time? You’ve lived through 2020. You saw something that nobody could have anticipated: sweep through the world and change everything. You’ve seen the scales be tipped away from secure-employment, towards more-secure-self-employment, away from cities-with-jobs, towards work-from-anywhere. So if not now, WHEN? And if you know, in your bones, that it’s not going to happen, then put the idea to bed, because it’s taking up space squatting in your brain. There’s never a perfect time to launch a business. There’s always going to be reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t, or couldn’t. There will always be naysayers. It’s up to you to decide and, once decided, to jump in with both eyes open, ready to do the work to make it happen.
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