We started our business on an idea that was not being addressed in the market. In our industry, a lot of single-use plastic was being used. The irony was we were in the care for the environment industry. Hence, we believed we had an untapped niche in making these single-use plastic products able to biodegrade away when disposed to a landfill. This ticked a couple of important boxes for starting a new business:
- It was a new idea that would attract attention.
- It was a technology that showed care for the environment which was, in theory, important to our client base.
Starting a new business can be a nerve-wracking decision to contemplate if you have never been down that road before. We knew there were established businesses in the marketplace already and that our products would go head-to-head with theirs. These competitors’ business model was to simply import products already made overseas and reselling them with their margin applied. With ours, however, we had to redesign them and find factories to produce them just for us.
Our new products had the benefit of having better environmental credentials. Was that going to be enough, however, to draw clients over, was the hanging question. We had run a similar company previously but without the biodegradable niche. We still knew therefore a lot of potential customers, which was a big benefit. We had to install an environmental consciousness into people to make them want to leave their current supplier and switch to us. The client’s field staff who work outside or the corporate leaders concerned about the environmental image of their company were the main people to target. The more difficult people to sway over were mid-level managers such as purchasing officers whose role is to buy the required items at minimum cost to the company.
There are a thousand reasons to not start a new business. They all make sense in some form or another. Peter Daniels Business entrepreneur from Adelaide said most people are waiting for their “boat to come in” before making that start. What they don’t realise is they never sent their boat out to begin with!
However, once you take the mental step to start your own business, there is no stopping you. Gone are the shackles of the previous jobs, the predictable income, the company policies, and the putting up with other personnel. You get to (and have to!) make all the decisions now.
Be prepared that things rarely go accordingly to those early plans. There are so many other things you never have thought of that will come up. It will always cost more than you thought. Tasks will always stake longer to finish. Deals fall through, unexpected ones come up, new opportunities can take you down a different path. In our business, one of the products we made for our own use, (biodegradable stretch wrap for shipping our pallet loads of goods around to our clients), we realised could be sold to a much broader and entirely different client base.
Over time, we expanded this packaging line of products and ended up forming an entirely new business based on that concept and we now expect that business to grow bigger than our first business. We never would have considered that without going down that first path, however. Being flexible is essential, go where the good opportunities take you, but don’t chase everything.
If you decide all this is manageable and you can still meet your partner with a smile, spend time with the kids, then your time to take that plunge has arrived. You wouldn’t be thinking of it if it wasn’t.