As someone who has dabbled in the small business world for a while I know a thing or two about how challenging it is to keep a profitable business.
When I first decided to offer my design services on a freelance basis in Vancouver, I did what common sense suggested: some initial market research to see who else is out there and what they are doing.
And boy was that a good idea…
It is both inspiring and challenging at the same time to see how many talented designers and developers are out there. It is incredible to be surrounded by so much creativity because I think that the more ideas and different creative minds we have, the better products we will produce. It also makes it challenging for a designer who is trying to make his/her mark in the industry.
Having said that, I still think that everyone has their individual strength and place in a given industry that they can own and develop.
When I was trying to get my business idea off the ground, one main challenge I had was trying to find companies that offer the quality services I needed at a small business budget that I had.
It is short of impossible to try and compete against everyone else out there when you have such a small budget at your disposal for all the things that you need to get a business going in such a competitive landscape. Especially in a city like Vancouver where everything is more expensive than average and there is a start-up culture that is constantly pumping out new businesses every day.
In order stand out of the crowd and create a differentiated brand, you either need to fork out tens of thousands of dollars to big marketing and design firms or you need to do everything yourself, which means you may end up with a subpar product that is not going to be competitive.
This is when I came up with the idea to cater to small businesses as someone who experienced the challenge himself. If you are trying to start your own business in Vancouver, chances are you don’t have the funds to pay thousands of dollars for a website design. That’s exactly where I thought I could add value to the local business community by offering much needed affordable website design services in Vancouver.
If you are trying to get your own small business off the ground, here’s my advice from my personal experience:
If you have a limited budget, select a few areas on which you are willing to spend more money. This could be marketing, business development, operations or website. If you identify a few key areas that are critical to your specific business, you can organize your budget accordingly and make adjustments more easily.
Find Your Niche
When you try to be everything to everyone, you generally end up being nothing to anyone. Especially when you have a limited budget, specializing helps focus your efforts and your budget as opposed to diluting them. Picking a speciality and mastering that will help you stand out more and own that slice of the industry that you are in.
If you are in a position to hire any staff for your small business, the best advice is to hire people who are smarter than you. A lot of people tend to get intimidated by this idea, which is quite natural. But when you think about it, smarter people will help you move forward and take your company to the next level. A lot of small businesses start as one-man operations in the beginning due to budgetary constraints. If that is the case for you, finding a mentor who can give you advice would be the next best thing.
Build Your Business Around Your Life
One of the benefits of having your own business is the ability and freedom to build it around your life rather than building your life around it. This will give you the strength and the stamina to build a business with longevity. Don’t get me wrong, small business is tough, you will have to work long days and nights, especially in the beginning. But it is also a great opportunity for you to build a structure to accommodate your personal and family life.