So often starting your own business or working from home is presented as being an easy option to make some extra money. Contribute to the family income while looking after your kids or between jobs. In reality, this is one of the hardest times to start a business. Your odds of generating an income from a start up business in the first few months are low.
In my experience, the best time to start your own business is while you are still receiving an income from another source.
Because the pressure of having to generate an income day one from a start up business is near on impossible! I know some people will tell you otherwise and in their experience they might be right. If you create a service based business you can do it, right?
Let’s look at it like this.
Regardless of whether you are starting an eCommerce business, a product based business or a service based business, you will not be making a profit on day one. Depending on your business niche, you might not even be drawing a profit in 6 months.
The reality is that setting up a business takes time. We know there are entrepreneurs who promise 6 figures in 6 months, but we also know these are few and far between.
Setting up a product based business takes a lot of planning and initial outlay depending on your product. You could be set back $10,000 or more depending on the business just to get started. Buying in stock will be your biggest expense followed by your website, marketing and general business expenses. To begin to record a profit, you need to first recoup that $10,000.
Once you do though, a product based business can be very lucrative. You have a physical product to sell and guaranteed profit margins when not discounted. Your stock is your business asset.
So what if you set up a service based business that has no initial outlay? Again, you might not be buying in stock, but you will still have initial set up costs like a website, advertising and technical equipment to get you started. You might only be $1000 out of pocket to start with or even less if you have been nifty with your finances or DIY’d your website. But you will still need to make this up before you are considered to be making a profit.
The other thing to consider in a service based business is that you are not making money until you have secured your first client. This could be within the first week in which case you are looking good. But in some cases, people don’t get their first client for weeks or even months. This is because you need to build up your brand and online presence before you can gain the trust of a client.
My service based business was fortunate to secure its first client before it officially started. But that is because I had been building my online presence via my other business first. I had over 12 months of networking in groups before I advertised my services as a VA.
So, what did I do before this?
I started my business journey with an eCommerce baby boutique. My little boutique specialised in baby shoes and accessories. It was super cute and had a great little following. But even though it was growing, it was still hard to make a profit.
I had overheads of stock, websites and marketing and the profit margins weren’t great to start off with. I did my research and picked something that every new Mum will have to buy at some point. Your child starts walking, you need shoes right!
As time went on, I found that my business model was impacting on my family life. So, I sold it after 18 months and decided to focus on my virtual assistant business that was brewing under the surface.
My reasons for starting up my first business were family and income driven. When my maternity leave ended my husband and I decided I wasn’t returning to my 9-5 job. I needed to contribute to the family income another way. This put pressure on my business as I needed it to be profitable from day one.
Looking back I think it would have been better if I started my business while I was still receiving my maternity pay. The pressure to make money would have been lessened and I would have been able to put the time into building my business without the stress. The pressure of the next sale and my young son were too much at the time.
But everything happens for a reason too.
Thankfully, my business path changing to a Web Designer and Copywriter has meant that my business is now more in line with what we need. I can contribute each week to the household and control how I work (to a point). Before I would stress about how many shoes I sold that week, now I stress about whether I have enough time in the week to fit my work in. A much better stress to have!
My point to this story is that if you want to get into business for yourself, you need to make sure you give yourself ample time to build it. If you start a business to make a profit day one then you will most certainly struggle under the stress and expectation of profiting. This is what brings on a high failure rate and burn out. A business needs to be nurtured and built from the ground up. It takes time to build trust and an audience.
I know that if I had of continued with my baby boutique for another 12 – 18 months it would have turned into a profitable business. It just needed that extra step that I couldn’t give it at that point in time. Being cute, quality baby products, the business would have thrived in the market scene where impulse buyers wouldn’t be able to resist the cutest faces on the shoes! But with a young son, I couldn’t commit to that.
If you are thinking of starting up your own business, firstly look at what you are hoping to achieve. It is best to go into it as a project first and then turn it into a business. The stress of having to make a profit or income from day one is unwanted pressure and can misconstrue your focus.
If you have the ability to start your new business while you are still working or receiving an income like maternity leave pay, then you will find you will be able to take the time to grow and learn first. Learning in business is the biggest hurdle to over come. The online world works in mysterious ways and it is a hard gig to perfect.
A service based business will have more chance of being profitable sooner than a product based business. This is simply because the outlay or start up costs are less. An eCommerce or online product based business will take longer because you need to build your following and audience first.
A point of note: Profit is not the same as revenue. Your business may generate $3000 revenue in 6 months, but if your initial outlay was $6000 then you have still not made a profit.