Starting Your Own Business

What's it about?

See also Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Business & Marketing Strategies Retreat.

Most people who start a business - or are contemplating doing so - have a patchy idea of what is required to make the business a success. Half of all startups fail within the first two years.

The reason is not because the idea is bad, but because the owner(s) and manager(s) haven't implemented a proper business structure.

It's a great (albeit expensive) learning experience. I too have learnt a lot about business by all the mistakes I made. This course is designed to help you prevent the most common mistakes so as to give you a fighting chance to succeed in your business.

This course is part of an ongoing series of practical workshops and mentoring designed to support startup businesses.

Entrepreneurship - covering the various kinds of businesses, ranging from self-employed freelancer or business owner to developing a stand-alone self-sufficient business that can ultimately be sold.

Business Planning - it is absolutely essential to have a Business Plan if you have any hope of succeeding in business. NOTE WELL: you need a practical plan for the use of your business team. Any other plan is simply a selling tool for obtaining finance and of little practical use to the company. This course will help you to create a real, live plan that you can actually work with!

Sales and Marketing - this is probably the most difficult yet most important aspect of business of any kind. If you have no sales you have no business. Many businesses (and I've made this mistake more times than I care to admit) focus too much on the product or service than on selling. Not to say that you can neglect the other housekeeping aspects of your business. Just don't become bogged down on image or branding or getting it absolutely right. The customer will always surprise you anyway.

The Marketing Strategies course takes a more advanced view of this, exploring profitability, growth and sustainability as a function of selecting profitable customers (not the other way round) and building on customer service.

Business Systems - my criterion for distinguishing between a true business and a 'life-style' business (such as a freelancer or consultant) is whether a business is run as a self-sufficient system or not. Even the smallest business benefits from the system approach. It saves time and money, minimizes mistakes and allows you to train staff, thus enabling the business to expand and grow. The reason why corporates tend to be more successful than SMEs - despite inferior products or services - is precisely because they operate using reliable systems.

At the end of the day, customers prefer reliability and consistency to quality or innovation.

People - is your business! People are your greatest asset and often the greatest expense. Many companies are not aware of the costs of recruiting the wrong people or of failing to look after the people they have. A disgruntled or dissatisfied employer not only turns away customers, but sours the working environment - which impacts on productivity. A bad manager can drive away moneymaking employees. Pay is often important and you should pay staff a fair price for their efforts, but people are often loyal to a company for many other reasons. Not to mention the fact that loyal employees possess an immensely valuable expertise about your company and its products and services. Look after and train and develop your people and they will look after your business and its customers. And get rid of anyone who threatens to destabilize the business (and that includes bad customers)!

Download Starting a Business [right-click and Save As...].

Who benefits the most?

Business Owners either starting up a business or already operating a fledgling SME. Also anyone considering leaving full-time employment to become a freelancer, consultant or entrepreneur.

What are the outcomes?

A clear idea of the focus and goals of the business.

A working business plan, and a marketing plan with clearly defined marketing strategies.

An understanding of the criteria for developing functional business systems and recruiting (and keeping) the right people for your business.

Course Duration

4-6 days initially (spread over 3-6 months) in preparation and helping to establish the start up business, followed up by 1-2 days consultancy per month on a retainer basis.

This program is unfortunately not cheap. However, the cost of entering into a business venture without adequate preparation and understanding can be many times more expensive. In Thailand, a small business typically takes 2-3 years to become successful (established) at an overall cost of around 10-20 million baht. Spending an extra 5% on getting it right is a wise investment.

Sadly, I have numerous anecdotes of having warned startups on their misreading of the Thai market. They declined my offer to assist in developing their business and marketing strategies as "being unnecessarily expensive". They all failed after about a year, each having squandered around $1m (40 million baht) on start up and marketing expenses.