Start Your Own Business as a Senior
(Part I)
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Starting your own Business

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Start Your Own Business
(Part II)
The Tools and Opportunities

(in cooperation with
e-sbforum.com)

 Some Initial Thoughts about a Start-up
 *
The Business Plan
 *
 
Creating an Internet Presence
 

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How to Start a successful Business as a Senior (Part 1)

The Business Start-Up Pages are brought to you in cooperation with e-sbforum.com,
the Small Business Forum

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Starting a business as a senior, is quite a challenging undertaking. If you have started business ventures before, then it is obviously just "old hat". But, if you have been an employee, all your life, it will really "tax your abilities".

The TV, the Internet and spam e-mails are full of offers about "how to make the next million". Most are of the more "lunatic kind", but some are quite legitimate and workable. Some parade as franchises with substantial costs of entry, some sell you a "course". Most offer you quite unrealistic profit prospects. So beware of these mental "snake oil merchants".

The main purpose of a good business opportunity, besides personal satisfaction, has to be, to make money in an agreeable environment. Whether you want to start a business on the internet or elsewhere is, for the planning part, quite immaterial.

Either business platform requires a lot of thought and a lot of work.

Using the internet has the advantage that you have an almost instant business presence. However, that does not mean that your site is immediately known and that people can find it, or that it appears in the search engines. Despite claims to the contrary, usually by guys wanting to sell you their "search engine expertise", it takes weeks and more usually months, before new sites appear on search engines like Google or Yahoo.

In selecting the opportunities for these pages, we concentrated on whether there was a reasonable chance to succeed, provided you put effort into building on an idea and in creating a genuine income producing business from that idea.

You have to put your "financial house" in order, to the extent that you allocate a predetermined amount of your savings to your business venture.
You have to identify the people that will work with you, your human resources. It would also be a good thing to talk it over with your spouse and maybe some other members of your family. If you are serious, you will be totally immersed for two to four years and maybe beyond.That requires some serious family commitment! We are aware, that this is supposed to be a retirement business, but the statement will still apply.
You might want to identify outside help, such as advisors, that are willing to help.
You should identify where your weaknesses are (look at the strength and weakness analysis), so that you can identify who is filling in the bits, or skills, that you are not familiar with.

How much risk do you want to expose yourself to? Starting a business from scratch is quite risky, since many things can and will go wrong, however well you plan. You could make a risk profile:

High Risk Start a Business from Scratch Low, but unpredictable Cost
Medium Risk Purchase an existing functioning Business Fixed initial Costs with predictable (and historically verifiable) ongoing costs
Low Risk Buy a well tested franchised Business Relatively high initial costs with well identified follow on costs.

It is clear that this is oversimplifying the issues, but you get the point! The problem is, you cannot make a "due diligence investigation" ( = investigating its past)with a start up. But you can do that with an existing business or an established franchise.

In addition, we have selected some useful tools that help you control and build up the business. These tools had to be good value for money and reasonably easy to use. Maybe, you think that making a business plan is not important. We, on the other hand, think it is important that you give some thought, as to what your resources are, and what you want to achieve by using them.

You are a senior, and your resources are your savings and your pension. You do not want to waste the hard earned financial comfort on some brainless idea that never has a chance as a business. Therefore plan what you do. Our business plan page, was created by e-sbforum.com, a Small Business Forum that specializes in start ups and JobLine International (as an alternative to finding a job when you lost your old one!). It will help you avoid expensive mistakes. And, it is free!



Get a good Accounting System


Most businesses fail, because the people behind them work unplanned, are disorganized, not very disciplined, work sloppily, without attention to detail, and have little persistence. A business plan, the footprint for your business, gives you at least some format, within which you can work and measure your progress. It will be an incentive and a constant measure to succeed and might increase your persistence.

Other tools relate to your web presentation and making your business known to other people. Again, you may or may not need them. But, if your business has a web presence, they are good tools to place yourself in the market. You have to be seen by your clients or the public at large to be successful, and these tools will help you do that. We have all used these tools and know that they work!

We have selected a few opportunities which, provided you work hard at it, give you a reasonable chance to succeed with a business opportunity.

The main criteria in our selection was:

The opportunities have to have a purpose and have to be understandable (an amazing number of "so-called business opportunities" offered simply cannot be duplicated, whatever its originator says)
You have to be able to build up a business and create a survivable income stream within a reasonable time. We have used the time frame of one year.
The entry costs have to be reasonably low, because, being without a job, you have very limited resources to spend. Don't participate in risky schemes. The only winner on those is the guy who sells it to you.
The business opportunity does not require specific up-front knowledge, over and beyond common sense. You have to be able to acquire the knowledge for running the business as you build up the business.
There is no need to purchase and keep inventory.

The most promising opportunities that fit this bill, are either selling advise, or providing some type of consultancy or coaching, or whatever euphemism you use to describe, that you are telling someone, how to do things. For these type of businesses, an Internet presence is probably a good idea. Other possibilities are offered by activities that require some initial physical effort, such as cleaning services, organizing jobs, mentoring or similar activities. In other words, they tend to be home based, or not very glamorous. But remember, the basic criteria is to make a solid good income with the prospects of making a substantial income within a reasonable time.

Internet businesses have the advantage that the initial investment to start the business is small. We have, on purpose, excluded inventory carrying businesses, because of the initial costs of acquiring such inventory.

This limits our business opportunities to

  • internet businesses which sell knowledge based programs
  • businesses which provide a service that sell, in one way or another, your specific skills or abilities; and
  • internet affiliate sites (i.e. selling someone else's products through your site).

The last one, internet affiliate sales, has recently become slightly tainted, because your success is to a large extent a function of someone else's, namely the original product providers, effort. Many, though not all, of the products sold through affiliate networks are of doubtful quality and you could spend a lot of effort "flogging a dead horse". This means that you have to be especially careful in selecting the products you sell. You can now start with the next page shown below:

A Selection of Business Opportunities and the Tools to Succeed
(Part II)

There are more extensive versions for tools and business opportunities found in e-sbforum.com .



The First Steps
(in cooperation with e-sbforum.com, the Small Business Forum)


You should start with an assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses, so that you can create a business opportunity that is based on your own strengths. In other words, don't become a lifeguard if you cannot swim! Obvious, you think, but you would not believe how many people start a business where the main success is dependent on a skill that they themselves cannot supply. So start with a simple table with your five best and worst qualities. You will have had to do the same for your job search or in your self-assessment:

My Strengths My Weaknesses
Organizing people and processes Selling
Accounting and Finance Public speaking
Creating good written material Trying to manage too many plans at the same time
Ability to work effectively within a well defined task. Limited financial capacity
Have supportive family Can't delegate tasks. Want to do everything myself!

Once you have created your list of Strengths and Weaknesses, which can really be any length, you should determine which business opportunities you want to tackle. Again, start with making a list of maybe five or ten business areas that you think you could handle or, would be interested in. There are obviously a lot of other areas of business outside the ones we suggest.

Then go back and look at each of the business opportunities and ask yourself, what the key strengths required will be in order to succeed. Also, look at the most important aspects which will make the business most likely to fail and see which strengths and weaknesses you have and how they match your list. But be truthful about it. While you can compensate for your weaknesses, you have to create a plan for how you go about to overcome them.

The process should not be some "slap-dash quickie", because your own and your family's success will depend on it. So take a little bit of thought and time and make it iterative, i.e. go from step to step and revisit these steps often, changing them as you might have new thoughts on issues along the way. Maybe, even have someone else review the issues, someone from whom you can expect an honest opinion.

Once you have determined the area of business you think you could enter and, given your strengths and weaknesses, be successful in, proceed to the next step:

Creating a comprehensive Business Plan
(Part III)
(in cooperation with e-sbforum.com, the Small Business Forum)


Before you go to the next step, you might want to read the opinions of some other people. We have, on purpose stayed clear of the more ridiculous claims people make, when they want to sell the book (i.e. "How to start a Business in ten Days and become a Millionaire in two Weeks", etc.). There are large numbers of books available, the four below we have looked at and, we think, they provide some insight that should help you.

Some useful Books you should consult from amazon.com

Just one small word of advice:

Try to stay clear of suggestions from friends on the golf course, who have friends (or friends of friends, or uncles of friends of friends), who have been very successful selling "green colored widgets with built in GPS's" and have ended up living the life of millionaires in St. Barth's or the French Riviera!

Good Luck!


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