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Choosing the right business to start is something that nobody can tell you except yourself. Seeking the advice of others is simply confusing and is a waste of time. Ask ten business owners what they think as to which business to start and you’ll probably end up with fifteen different ideas because answering the Golden Question of Entrepreneurship often proves difficult to even the most seasoned business professional.
The ten answers that I can guarantee you’re not going to get are of the businesses that those entrepreneurs are currently in.
The process of choosing which business to start is often done incorrectly and does not factor in the experience level of the younger entrepreneur or lay a foundation for the first-time business owner to grow both personally, professionally and fiscally.
The issue with many business plans is that, prior to inception, they fail to take into account certain variables that can determine whether a business has longevity, such as search engine marketing competition, the hassle and entrepreneur’s inherent ability to recruit and manage outside manufacturers as various globalization factors will flood a market.
With the advent of the web and the multifaceted programming features of WordPress, many younger entrepreneurs have the ability to go into business for themselves very easily and very cheaply, but very haphazardly. What may be a cost-effective business now could be a nightmare waiting to happen.
Despite factors such as a cost-effective start-up that should be considered major tailwinds, why do so many of these businesses end up becoming a hobby alongside a full-time job?
The reason these companies fail is simplistic. Many entrepreneurs don’t venture into industries that are truly needed by the market. Things such as social media, online vacation packages, online dating and video production are not a necessity for businesses or the consumer to purchase and often prove a lot harder to break into than the business plan formula claimed it to be.
To mitigate a failed start, I have attempted to lay down some industry and target market boundaries from which the entrepreneur can safely use to pick a business that has a fighting chance from the onset.
For one’s first business, I always suggest that they start a company that sells services to other businesses rather than directly to the consumer. There are a few reasons as to why entrepreneurs should venture into “B2B” (“Business to Business”) service based companies as opposed to any form of “B2C” (“Business to Consumer”) company, “B2B” product-oriented company or strictly a web-based B2B firm.
Prior to getting into the reasons why the first-time entrepreneur should play within these boundaries, let’s define and give examples in order to clarify the difference between a “B2B” service-based company, a “B2B” product or web-based company and, finally a “B2C” company.
We are going to leave out companies selling into municipalities or educational institutions due to long sales cycles that are very complex, hard to manage and even harder to profit from.
Defining the examples:
Examples of “B2C” product-based companies:
Why do I recommend that the first time entrepreneur shy away from “B2C” product based companies?
For the seasoned entrepreneur with exceedingly strong fundamentals and monetary backing, there can be a lot of advantages in opening a “B2C” product-based company. If you look at companies and subsequent brands such as Abercrombie or Sephora, there is a lot of a money to be made in “B2C” product-based marketing if you hit a home run.
Though, the marketing, operations and other intricacies of these companies are well-above most seasoned entrepreneurs’ heads let alone the first-time start-up.
There are a few significant advantages that companies like Abercrombie enjoy and that falsely lure the first-time entrepreneur into starting a “B2C” product-based company. Two of these big advantages are that “B2C” product-based companies don’t have lengthy sales cycles like most “B2B” companies are likely to have, and that they can use their brand to justify significant pricing mark-ups.
However, just as there are many upsides to owning a successful “B2C” product-based company, there are even more deterrents to success for the first-time entrepreneur when opening one.
The entrepreneur can attempt to have a store such as Macy’s sell their fashion products for them, however, as someone somewhat familiar with the fashion industry, this is a very long sales cycle and to get space from the Big Players is exceedingly competitive and often comes with the price tag of having to attend costly trade shows.
If the above didn’t deter you, here’s a good story for the “B2C” product-based aspiring entrepreneur:
In 2007, I got a call from a start-up company that sold yoga mats and the owners were looking to staff a sales representative. Based somewhere outside of Boston, the owners couldn’t afford a full-time sales representative nor could they afford my fees, therefore our conversation was not too lengthy.
However, about three months later and upon further review of the current competition in the industry, I determined that my search engine optimization skills would allow me to rank a website highly on Google for keyword phrases pertaining to “Yoga mats” and related phrases.
As quick as I was to pull the trigger on a new business back then, I was even quicker to pull the plug on this endeavor. It started when I began researching yoga mat manufacturers and quickly learned that to even have somebody produce a basic yoga mat, we needed to buy thousands of them… from China.
This was quite problematic for a few reasons. The first was that half of the manufacturers (particularly, the ones in the States) would not even speak to us because we didn’t have enough money to warrant them starting a new business relationship with. Second, we did not know where to keep these mats and, after shopping around, storage costs were very expensive.
Third, the storage companies charged exorbitant fees to ship the mats to the consumer. Finally, if we wanted to do custom yoga mats with custom art, we would have to manufacturer the mats ourselves because nobody wanted to print single mats for a new company.
Therefore, before the company was even off the ground, I was looking at a minimum fee of $20,000 in manufacturing, warehousing and upfront shipping costs as well as a warehouse full of unsold yoga mats and a website that ranked on the third page of Google.
Examples of “B2C” product-based companies:
Why do I recommend that the first time entrepreneur shy away from “B2C” service-based companies?
Even further, this is not factoring in your conversion rate that essentially tells you how many clicks it takes to make a sale. Therefore, you could be paying up to $60 in advertising costs just to make a single sale of $130. The web is no longer a cheap place to advertise and more and more “B2C” service-based companies have turned to television because simply advertising on the web shows little to no ROI.
Another thing to remember is that when it comes to “B2C” service-based companies, you can assure yourself that the top 10 ranked on Google will be competitors for life.
Next week, in part two of the series, I will discuss B2B product-based and service-based companies.