This chapter helps you determine whether you have chosen the “right” business for you—one that you know, like, and will work hard for and that makes economic sense. Most experienced businesspeople complete several steps as a rough and ready template to decide whether to complete a plan. If your business passes all these steps with flying colors, it means it’s a good idea to write a full business plan (although it doesn’t guarantee success). On the other hand, if your proposal doesn’t pass, you’ll probably want to modify or change your plans altogether.
Know Your Business
One of the most common questions people ask me is this: What business should I start? My answer is always the same—start a venture that you know intimately already. I don’t believe any business exists that is so foolproof that anyone can enter and make a sure profit. On the other hand, a skilled, dedicated owner often can make a venture successful when others have failed. Remember, your potential customers will exchange their money only for the conviction that you are giving them their money’s worth. And that means you’ll need to know what you’re doing.
If you’re unable to find employment in the pasta business, make a tour of delicatessens and shops that make their own pasta. Interview the owners. To get reliable answers, it’s best to do this in a different locale from the one in which you plan to locate. Small business owners are often quite willing to share their knowledge once they are sure you will not compete with them.
I remember reading a management philosophy that said that a good manager doesn’t have to know every job, only how to get other people to do them. That approach may work well in a large corporation, but for a small business, it’s dangerously naive. In short, don’t start your small venture until you know it from the ground up. I mean this literally.