Friday, May 18, 2012

Are You Ready to Take the Entrepreneurial Plunge?

Leaving your job to start your own business is one of the biggest decisions of your life.  You have to think about a lack of financial security, the possibility of failure, and hard, hard work.  If you aren't willing to live with these uncertainties, entrepreneurship might not be for you. But if you are risk averse and looking to take the entrepreneurial plunge, below are some things to think about before leaving your day job.

In a recent article, Paddy Spence (a former VP of marketing for Kashi who left the company to create the all-natural Stevia beverage company, Zevia) details why he decided to become an entrepreneur.  "It's important to be aware of what appeals to you most when you make this decision; whether it's the idea of managing a business or building a business," says Spence. "For me, the excitement came when I had the opportunity to build something based on a cause that is significant to me."

Some advice from Spence:

Start with passion: Remember, what defines an entrepreneur is to go beyond thinking about it, ignore the calculated risks and do it.

Believe in it: Define a product, segment, or category that you really believe in and combine it with a business opportunity in that segment. This creates a fertile business opportunity. Stevia-based drinks are a personal passion for Spence because he wants to live a completely sugar-free life.

Have a plan: careful financial planning is critical right up front. "All emerging businesses need capital to grow," says Spence. "Understanding those capital needs and how achieve them is important going into it, as opposed to trying to figure it out as you go along."

Do your market research: Test and learn. Try things on a small scale. Begin with friends and family and get their input on what they think of your product or service. From there you can go on to larger control tests where you will identify measurable quantitative results and actionable changes you might make in your product offering. "The larger your sample size the more you eliminate bias," Spence says. "Start out with a small group and expand it to get feedback from hundreds or thousands."

Keep your branding simple: "You need to be able to tell the story of brand or product without it being a complicated story," Spence says.

As an ag entrepreneur, what planning did you do before leaving your day job to become a business owner?

As a person thinking about entrepreneurship, what do you think about Spence's advice?  Have you followed any of these tips yet?

No comments: