According to Richard Branson, English business magnate, philanthropist and founder of the Virgin Group, 2017 is “a fantastic time to start a business” as he wrote in a post on his blog dated January 10, 2017. Why?
For one thing, he says, new technology has removed many of the restraints to entry for startups. Technology has enabled businesses to advertise on social media for free which allows them to build followers of their brands on small budgets. Companies no longer have to appeal to people through expensive advertising. And millennials, the largest generation in the world, eagerly connect with social media.
Another attribute of millennials is that they would just as soon buy from someone running a business from their kitchen table as from a retail store, which lowers the cost of doing business significantly. Some capital is still needed of course but in 2017 there are more sources of funding than ever. Fledgling entrepreneurs no longer have to face the difficulty of securing bank loans.
In 2017 many people believe crowdfunding will become more popular. People will invest in and order products from companies that haven’t yet opened for business. That will allow entrepreneurs to test their ideas before spending a large sum of money. They can build their businesses the way they want instead of on terms set by the bank.
Branson concludes that, with more ways to raise money but with less money needed, with more customers than ever and more ways to sell, 2017 is an ideal year to start a business. And entrepreneurs can run it from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
In a blog post on the Huffington Post entitled “Is 2017 the Year You Start Your Dream Business?” dated January 4, 2017, Melinda Emerson says this is the right time to start a business if its planned properly. She gives seven steps the entrepreneur must take to succeed. Summarized in brief, they are:
- Develop a life plan. That is, determine how much money is ultimately needed to live on and if the founder has the dedication to put in the long hours and the several years it will take to reach the desired goal.
- Create budgets. Both personal and business budgets and figure out how to finance the business.
- Define the revenue model. Figure out how the business will make money. Test the marketplace to see if there are paying customers for the product or service. Decide how to market it.
- Determine the niche for the product or service. Be specific about which customers you want to target and create a customer profile.
- Develop an online strategy. The company website will be the first place many potential customers find the business. It should be eye-catching and easy to use. Contact information should stand out and the text should contain pertinent keywords.
- Prepare a business plan. The best way to know if a business will work is to write a business plan. Sample business plans can be found at bplans.com and business plan software at enloop.com.
- Launch while working. A small business normally doesn’t break even for 18 months or more, let alone provide living expenses. It’s easier to handle the stress of starting a business if there’s a regular paycheck to count on.
Of course, no year or advice or business idea is a sure thing. However, better planning seems to be a key to success no matter what year it is.