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Is Now the Best Time to Start a New Business?

by: Geoff Ficke

Is Now the Best Time to Start a New Business? 

I am often asked if these are good times for new enterprise opportunities? Should I wait? Is the economy down too much? Is it a good funding market? Is competition too intense? These and dozens more stated concerns are nothing more than self-imposed hurdles to movement; exscuses. 

Now is the best time in history to start a business, launch a product or offer a cutting edge new service. Even with relatively high unemployment people still are working and shopping. More business incorporations are established each year than the previous year. Global prosperity is galloping along, with formerly poor countries like China, India and Malaysia experiencing spectacular growth (potential new customers for new products and services) and an emerging middle class developing in many third world countries. 

Much of what I just stated might seem at odds with the media presentation of a struggling economy. The mass media knows that bad news sells. It is in their interest to report the problems of General Motors, layoffs, health care benefit cuts and downsizing while ignoring the spectacular growth of jobs and small business around the world. Mass media has a goal of keeping readers on edge; uncertain about the future and discontented. Pay no heed, do your own research on current market conditions if this is a concern. 

The opportunity to successfully start a small business, market an invention or new service is always dependent solely on the value, novelty and benefits of the new offering. If there is an under-served market segment and you can identify a niche in a large market category, the time is always right to move ahead. 

For many years I called on large national department store chains. Buyers always had a reason why now was not a good time to place an order. “Easter is coming”. “We have inventory next month”. “Let’s see how next weeks sale goes”. Always excuses. Meanwhile inventory on hot items was low and sales would be lost. It is the same with inventing excuses to delay an entrepreneurial opportunity.

My advice to students, clients and inventors is simply this: “Time is never an entrepreneur’s friend”. I saw an entrepreneur lose a multi-million dollar purchase order with Home Shopping Network (HSN) by three days. Initial hesitation, self-imposed hurdles, lack of focus and mistakes in the development process caused needless and damning delays. HSN was fed up and placed the order with an inferior but better organized competitor. The loser of this race never recovered. The winner does over $20 million annual turnover with HSN and has built a strong international business. It is maddening to me how often delay equals opportunity lost. 

Do not delay movement to commercialize an opportunity based on short- term business conditions, perceived or real. For example, interest rates and currency conversion has been historically low for the last several years. Recently they have begun to inch up. How high will they go? What effect might the rise have on ultimate success for my venture? No one really knows the exact answer. We only can state with certainty that rates go up, rates go down. Look at the historic averages and anticipate that these averages will hold true to form. Base your financial assumptions on the mean averages, but do not delay movement on a great idea because of uncertainty about one element. Remember; if rates go up, or the dollar jumps in value, they rise for your competition as well. 

Also, do not listen to negative nannies nit picking your project. If you have done an effective job of due-diligence, can identify your market niche as being under-served and can quantify an excellent financial proposition you probably have the makings of a successful business. You will certainly know more than the critics. It is easier for people to be negative than to encourage your interest in taking a risk. Risk equates to possible failure for most people. You will be changing your life and most people instinctively fear change. 

I always encourage seeking advice from friends, family, valued experts and independent counselors. It is important to know as much about your projects strengths and weaknesses as possible before committing your energy and resources. I also know that successful entrepreneurs almost always have an inner compass which sorts through the mass of concerns, objections and negatives they receive. It is always easier to say no, not move forward, than to commit and push ahead. 

America is teeming with dreamers and doer’s, all hoping to succeed in a cluttered, very aggressive marketplace. Delay is never a wise course of non-action if your project has real legs and commercial viability. Somebody else is potentially working on a directly competitive product. You can not afford to lose a first to market advantage because of dallying and uncertainty about entering the market at the optimum time. There is never a perfect time to start. There is only now, and now is plenty good enough.