UPDATE on 22/12/2010: The website is now ‘live’ and, if you are interested, you can check it here: www.home-me.co.uk It is far, far from completion – not even a beta version, yet 😉 There are lots of mistakes and loose ends. But, please, bear in mind that this entrepreneur / web-designer is 9 years old, only.
Last Sunday, over tea, we were chatting about how much more expensive it is to buy quince cheese at the delicatessen than make it at home (about 5 times more, if you are interested).
My 9 year old – who is always brimming with business ideas (see here) – got very excited with the idea of setting up a business making quince cheese at home. Before bedtime, she had bought a domain name for the business venture with her own pocket money and had set up the rudiments of a webpage using iWeb. Two days later, she came home saying that she had talked about the new business to her friends in the school playground, and that they were eagerly awaiting the official launch (her words, not mine!) of the website on December, 22nd so that they could start ordering.
Will this webpage ever go live? I don’t know. Will the business take-off? I doubt it. But, see, that is not the point.
The point is that 1) my budding entrepreneur did not conceive of a business without a website and 2) armed with only a second-hand laptop and counting just on her pocket money, she was able to put the basic structure of a web-based business in place.
If she can do it, what is stopping you? It does not have to be risky (you can start it alongside your day job) and it does not have to be a grand idea (it can be a by-product of your hobby).
Here are some basic principles to keep in mind:
1. Find your niche – address a narrow need in the market that you can satisfy better than the existing solutions. In other words, focus on the long tail.
2. Stay nimble – adopt a simple infrastructure that you can control effectively and with as little dependency on third parties as possible. Innocent learned this lesson the hard way when, 18 months into business, they were informed by the supplier of their bottles that he would not be delivering any units of this key part of the product for the following 6 weeks, in a move that would, effectively, have put the company out of business if they had not been able to find another supplier.
3. Start small – you have a good idea, but then start tweaking with it, adding one more product line, one more location, one more option… and, before you know it, the good, small business idea has escalated into something big, that is not nearly as good as the initial idea, and is too big and too daunting.
Do you have any other basic tips to share with budding entrepreneurs?