Stumbling Blocks
Why many dream of starting a business but few actually pass that stage
By Nilooka Dissanayake
So many people dream of starting their own business. But so few ever get past the dreaming stage. Why do you think that is? Isn't it interesting to find out?

On one side, you can argue that this is just the way things are. So many of us dream of becoming champions, going to university, becoming professionals, but so few us do. So many of us dream of finding success or love or happiness, but so few of us do.

Could the problem be within us or outside? Many believe that we are born lucky or intelligent or born 'entrepreneurs.' We can begin a big controversy on this topic. But why waste time when those who eventually reached their goals tell you that it is more to do with hard work and persistence than pure luck. Of course a bit of luck, a good break, being in the right place at the right time can be helpful. But that alone will not do. Success, in whatever your endeavour-be it business, in happiness or in personal relations-will mainly be the result of your hard work. Reap and you shall sow.

There is no denying that the business environment will help and hinder businesses. But, right now in Sri Lanka, the business environment, especially for start up businesses seems better than it has ever been before. The government has recognized that developing small and medium size enterprises (SMEs for short) is a great way for developing the nation. There is also the recognition that micro businesses-, small business units in the informal sector and businesses carried out in homes in a very small way-also contribute to the growth of the nation. All this recognition has been reinforced through the 2005 budget proposals. We can look forward to interesting times as far as the SMEs and micro businesses are concerned. We will discuss these developments as they begin to bear fruit.

But for the moment, let us consider why, even when there are opportunities in the environment, that we can't get ourselves to actually take the plunge-to make that dream business ours into a reality.

We simply do not dedicate enough time for it. We do not think often enough about what we actually want to achieve; for thinking through everything that we actually need to go through. If we do not focus, and keep on focusing, day after day on this dream business, it will not become a reality. You need to work at it.

When you actually take time and think, you will come across more questions than answers. You realize you need more information. So if you do not ask questions, seek solutions, look for information, do market research, how can your dream come true?

Then comes planning. Use pen and paper; use your computer spreadsheets. Planning in your mind does not work. Not if you want the business dream to come true.

The next issue you face will be about finding money. Don't go running to the bank. No one is ready to invest in your business venture if you are not ready to do that yourself. So, it is best to keep saving while you dream.

On the other hand, don't just go and start a business just because you have money. While your savings account may be the safest form of investment, a business, especially a small business started by an inexperienced person is a very risky proposition.

Once you sort out all those issues, or actually while you are about it, you will meet the challenge of finding a big enough market for your product or service. Who will buy your stuff? Why should they? Can you offer a competitive price and reasonable quality? Can you find business in big enough numbers to keep your business going?

Can you actually deliver if there is a market? Operational issues, technology and management areas will have to be looked into. And you need to focus on costs. Making a big noise at the start may not be the only option open to you. Think how you can spread your marketing costs for the best results.

See how you can keep your operational costs down to a minimum. Costs will, in general, decrease as you learn more and better ways of doing things. But with a bit of forward thinking you can avoid unnecessary costs. Try to depend on foresight rather than learn from hindsight.

So, taking time to think, for finding information, doing research and planning will increase the probability of your dream business coming true. Dedicate a few minutes every day to your dream and see if it does not come true in the end.

Please send in your comments on what is presented in this article. You can contact us on or on 5552524.

The writer is the Managing Editor of Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa (Athwela Business Journal), the only Sinhala management monthly targeting the small and medium enterprises, the Ezine Athwela Email Magazine and, the bilingual small business website.

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