I’ve always wanted be in business for myself (although this discussion could apply to any dream). I’ve worked a couple of businesses through the years helping others and I’ve learned the business-end ropes of the ropes, so to speak. However, while I’m exploring my options in the direction I want to head (in addition to writing), I’m finding one thing consistently: the competition is fierce. And honestly, that’s a little intimidating. Can I succeed in a market with businesses already up and established in my industry? How do I break in? Do I have enough money? What if I invest but can’t penetrate the market?
What if I fail?
Now I can cite the standard “not trying is failing” philosophy and there’s some wisdom in that. Nevertheless, it doesn’t quench the fear we often have of the competition which, in a nutshell, boils down to one thing: What if I’m not good enough? The logic goes like this: If I were “good enough,” then certainly I would succeed. However, as I’m finding, “good enough” or not, there are other factors besides talent in the mix.
Thing #1: Do I have the stamina to succeed?
Breaking into anything—business, writing and publishing, the music industry, even climbing the ladder at work to attain that desired position—all of that takes really long-term persistence. Do I have that? For instance, I also write fiction and the struggle to reach agents and publishers can be disheartening, to say the least. To offset that, there have been times when I’ve had to work hard to restore vision by reminding myself that even the most famous authors, at one time, faced demoralizing obstacles. So, knowing that the way to success is often fraught with discouragement, downturns and disappointments, will I have the endurance to be successful in business?
Thing #2: Do I want to do this thing long-term?
That’s a question I’m seriously contemplating. Even if I do manage to achieve some level of success in the business venture I’m considering, will I someday grow bored with it? To be perfectly honest, I get tired of the same old thing, year after year, so one thing I’m researching is whether this business has the potential for change, for evolution, for creative expansion. Since it’s a creative-type venture, I’m pretty certain it will but I have to ask the question. If the answer is “no,” the next question would be whether or not I could sell the business and make a reasonable profit. The bottom line is that the last thing I want to do is to create a potential grind or to lose my initial investment of time and money by simply closing up shop.
Thing #3: What type of economy am I located in?
This is a question which cannot be overlooked because it explores the economic conditions of a potential business market. For example, are a majority of potential customers economically struggling, just making ends meet or prosperous? And is the product or service for sale a necessity or a luxury? Will there be repeat business or is the product/service a one-time expenditure? If the product/service is a necessity and especially if it’s a consumable necessity, then it should work in any kind of economy. People need the product or service and they need it on a repeat basis. However, if it’s a luxury item or service, then perhaps the best place to set up shop would be in a prosperous market. Otherwise, it may not succeed. Bottom line: we need to know the economic landscape of our potential market.
Thing #4: How much competition will the market bear?
Every industry has its competitors, whether one is selling a product or service, opening a restaurant, or trying to get a recording or publishing deal—whatever. Competition is just a fact of life. However, it’s something everyone needs to consider in terms of where to set up shop: How much competition in the target business market is too much? If the competition is too prevalent and the market is already saturated with the type of business being considered, will the market bear another business just like it? In other words, will there be the customer base to support another similar enterprise? However, one thing is true…
|There will always be a need for a new generation of up-and-coming people and businesses to replace those leaving the market.
Next Gen Rising
Whether you’re trying to break into a business industry or the arts, don’t be discouraged by the competition trying to make it the same fields. Writers, bands, artists, actors—they all eventually (how do I say this delicately?) exit the market, most through retirement, some for health or other reasons, and a new generation is needed to take their places. The same is true of businesses; each has its run, and the market needs to replace those which move or go out of business.
Go-Getters Usually Get
What do you do in the meantime? While you’re waiting to “break in” to your field, VOLUNTEER!!! Go out and find that person or company already doing what you want to do, explain that you just want to learn the business, and ask if you can help. You might have to knock on a few doors but someone will take you up on free labor. That way you’ll gain some experience, find out what you didn’t know that you don’t know, and maybe even find a mentor who’s willing to help you to catch that dream. In other words, go out and find your own internship. (Hint: It doesn’t matter what age you are, either—from a corporate-business perspective, free labor is free labor!) And then, when an opportunity happens, guess who’s right there and ready? Volunteering in your industry is a great way to find out whether what you’ve been dreaming about doing is really your dream come true.
So—once you do a little research, evaluate your location and market, and tuck a little experience under your belt, that big, bad competition won’t seem so scary anymore.
Who knows—maybe one day soon, you’ll be the competition.