Got an idea for a start-up? Before you get overly excited, consider its viability.
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Starting a small business in Central New York may sound pretty easy. Go to the county’s clerk’s office, file a doing business as (dba) certificate, get a tax number and go from there.
Will the business succeed? Here are five aspects that will determine the fate of your great business idea.
1. Does the market need it?
You may have a great idea, but if no one in your target market needs it or the market is already saturated with it, your idea will not work.
“Entrepreneurs want to start a business because they are passionate with the idea they want to create and offer in the marketplace,” said Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham, president of Women TIES, LLC in Syracuse. “Just because they love the idea doesn’t mean there is a need for it. The most important place to begin is with simple research via the internet and also within the entrepreneur’s main region of sales to see what similar businesses already exist.
“By studying what other companies currently offer in terms of services and products may also help define what the new entrepreneur wants to offer and at what competitive price. You can have the best business idea in mind but if the market is already saturated, it makes it harder to succeed initially until the new business develops its own niche.”
2. Is the business name unique?
“The entrepreneur should search the internet to make sure the name and website address he or she wants to use isn’t already taken or too similar to an existing business,” Higginbotham said. “Securing a name and multiple website URLs is a major move for any entrepreneur so proper research needs to be done in advance before formally filling out paperwork and printing business cards or marketing materials.”
This may seem a trivial matter until you try to build a website or create buzz on social media. If no one can find your company because its name is similar to other entities, your company cannot grow. A unique name also helps ensure you avoid legal entanglements by sounding as if you are copying another company’s name.
3. Does it solves a problem for someone?
People pay for solutions to their problems, not because they want you to make a living.
“A business that has clearly defined that proposition of solving a problem is off to a good start,” said John R. Halleron, senior business advisor with Small Business Development Center in Oswego. “Know who is going to use this service or product. Who is your market? If you can identify it clearly, you’re off to a good start.”
4. Does it have multiple revenue streams?
“You have to figure out if you have additional products or services to complement the original one,” Halleron said. “That is key to getting the ball rolling.”
It can also keep that ball rolling. Times change and can change quickly, as evidenced by 2020.
Halleron added that the SBCD can help new business owners with developing projects on their revenue so they can create benchmarks and plan their business growth.
5. Can you can make this product or provide this service very well?
While many companies hire people to perform work for them, most start-ups cannot afford to outsource the process of providing their main moneymaker.
“Is your product or service tied to something you are really good at and do you hear that often?” said Meghan Florkowski, director of the WISE: Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Women’s Business Center in Syracuse. “Are you passionate about it? Even better.”
Of course, thinking of a business that will be popular or unique is important; however, the owner’s personal interested in and excitement for the business helps.
“Now it’s time to remain flexible and open to advice,” Florkowski said. “Once you do your research, you may find your idea has to change and you will need to market it. That’s where entrepreneurship organizations like the WISE Women’s Center can help.”