It’s a fact. For most Malawians, the salary is the only reliable source of family income. While this is reflective of the structural weakness of the economy in that there may not be as many revenue-generating avenues to be explored, there is a myriad of other reasons to account for this. Some of which include lack of venture capital and markets for our products or services. But sometimes, it is just that we have not found the right business idea to pursue. This week, I wish to share on how one can find the right small business given their financial and skill constraints.
To begin with, finding the right small business to meet your individual strengths, needs and goals has two components. First, the kind of business you should start, and, secondly, whether you should build a small business from scratch or just purchase or go into partnership on an existing business structure.
Many people who want to start a small business have a pretty good idea about what type of business they want to own. But some only have a general idea, while others don’t have any idea at all. Most of the books you can read on the subject of finding a small business will tell you that the best place to start is with matching your skills and experiences to some business that requires those skills. For example, if you love to cook, they’ll suggest you open a catering business or a restaurant. But I would suggest to you that this should not always be the case. If you have a strong interest in something, think about the needs of other people who share your interests. Is there something you can provide? It may help to think in terms of goods and services. Most businesses involve a mixture of both. Ultimately, considering doing something you love is a start, but it has to be further analysed by examining the market potential, competition, resources required to enter the market, consumer/buyer demand, and uniqueness of the idea.
The best place to start in picking a small business is with consumers (including other businesses that may want your product or service). You need to do a simple research on what consumers or businesses want that’s not being provided to them? Ultimately, whether you succeed will depend upon whether you are able to meet some unmet need in the market. In fact, even if you love to cook, you are more likely to succeed if you open an Internet cafe service—even if you know nothing about Internet—if there is demand for Internet services but not for another restaurant in your area. It’s far easier to hire someone who knows something about Internet and meet the market needs than it is to sell consumers something that they seem to already have.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to sell a new or different product or service in order to succeed; you can succeed if you can improve what is already being sold. In the above example, you should open a restaurant business if you can provide a better service than other restaurant businesses, such as a wider menu or lower prices. But that’s still a function of what consumers want. Your research would have told you that there is demand for a new catering business if prices were lower or if the menu was more varied.
A blessed weekend to you as you think through how to augment your salary. I bet there are so many opportunities out there waiting for your ingenuity.