Ever dream of starting your own business and being your own boss? For those with the entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of creative ideas, starting a new business can be an enticing and exciting prospect. And in the rapidly changing business world, such a dream is certainly not unattainable. Many of today’s most successful companies began with a passionate individual and a good idea.
But starting a new business is not a simple matter. It involves a lot of planning that includes the integration of well-researched ideas with an extensive understanding of the many facets of successful business practice. Aspiring entrepreneurs need to ask themselves hard questions and come up with educated answers and solutions to the many problems inherent to starting and maintaining a sustainable business.
To address this need, the University of West Florida (UWF) offers an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship, which focuses on the many aspects of starting a new business. With the depth of knowledge and experience gained from this program, entrepreneurs such as yourself can pursue the exciting dream of building a successful business from the ground up.
What Is Your Million Dollar Idea?
This is the most essential question to ask yourself when starting a business. What is your idea, and why do people want it? The “answer” to this question should be based on both creativity and thorough market research and analyzation. Are similar products established and seeing successful returns? And how is what you have to offer unique or does it improve upon existing products? What is the market niche you plan to exploit?
Or maybe you are planning on creating an entirely new product and a new market. What is this product’s potential for both success and failure, based on similarly trail-blazing product launches and market trends? With today’s powerful big data analytics services you can conduct extensive research into such market trends, successful startup models, financial risk and return projections, and the like. Being able to validate your new business idea based on intelligent research is important for both future success and securing initial investment.
Is it a Small Business or a Startup?
An aspect of this initial idea-creation, research, and planning stage is deciding what type of business model fits your entrepreneurial pursuit. “Small businesses” are technically so named based on size (see the U. S. Small Business Administration’s small business size standards). But, with the development of startup business models based on a more iterative approach, a distinction has emerged within the official small business designation.
In an article for HuffPost, startup product manager Balaji Viswanathan likens this distinction to an immediate yet somewhat finite solution to a problem (traditional small business approach) to an iterative, growing, scalable solution to such a problem, with no finite limit to its potential return (startup approach).
He offers an analogy to illustrate this difference. Think of two neighboring backyards in a hot, sunny climate. As a solution to the problem of excessive heat and sun, one neighbor puts up a shade umbrella (aka: small business model with defined upfront investment and results).
The other neighbor plants a tree in hopes that it will grow and provide shade. Maybe this works. Maybe it doesn’t. If the tree fails and dies, they plant a different one. Maybe the tree ends up providing unexpected rewards: shade for neighbors (i.e. mutually beneficial networking opportunities), fruit, the seeding and growth of more trees, etc. This incremental iterative process of trial, result and revision is similar to the rapid feedback loop of a startup business approach, like a tech company launching an initial version of a product, soliciting feedback, revising, and putting out successive versions. Think of the development of the iPhone, new models, the iPhone-inspired iPad, the Apple Watch, proprietary hardware and apps, etc.
Make a Plan and Execute
The rest of the process of starting a new business is based on the initial idea and appropriate business model. Your business plan might be the more extensive sort common to the traditional small business approach, complete with exacting budgets, marketing strategy, projected financial goals and outcomes, and organizational management structures. Or, with the iterative startup approach, your plan may often change, as scalable and flexible as the business. This is not to say you should not make a plan. But the plan should allow for growth and revision reflecting how the business develops and requires implementing new structures, product research and development, and marketing models.
Then come the nuts and bolts of starting and running a business. Pick a name. Apply for necessary licenses and permits. Hire people. Start your marketing campaign. Learn how to manage all aspects of a functional business. And, importantly, seek out and secure funding — not just for the business’s initial launch but also for the next couple years as the business grows and becomes sustainable (and profitable).
Starting a business is complex and risky, but it can also be immensely rewarding, both financially and on a more intangible level. The breadth of business knowledge and experience gained from an MBA program combined with the specificity of UWF’s MBA with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship can greatly help degree candidates in following their dream of starting a successful new business.
Learn more about the UWF online MBA with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship.