Thinking about starting your own business is exciting, and a little scary. Are you ready to take the plunge? Do you have the skills and fortitude that you are going to need? Will you be successful? Is the risk you’re taking worth it? There are lots of unanswered questions you will have, even before you open the doors, start your website, or put yourself out there. These 5 tips will help you answer some of those questions:
Be passionate, and realistic.
Because new vegan entrepreneurs are often SO passionate about the vegan lifestyle, some people abandon all rationale and think, if it helps the animals and the planet, how could it be wrong? We LOVE vegans for this, but in the business world, additional rules apply – like the bottom line, so it is critical that you go into your business always keeping your bottom line in mind.
Don’t limit the audience for your business.
The number of vegans may be growing, but they are still a small part of the overall market. Many passionate vegans believe that only the “vegan market” would be interested in their products/services, and this may be a mistake. As you start thinking about what your vegan business is going to look like, try not to exclude mainstream audiences from your marketing. If you do, you risk reducing your audience and limiting your capacity to survive. Keep in mind, there are benefits to sharing vegan products with the non-vegan world, like banishing stereotypes by offering healthy, vegan food that’s delicious, or vegan clothing that is comfortable and stylish.
Know how you’re going to sell your product.
Most products and services are developed in a magical creative fog that inspires entrepreneurs to push boundaries. Often, when you are in creation mode you are experiencing ideas in a limitless setting. However, running a business is more of a practical exercise. For this reason, successful entrepreneurs need a certain amount of balance – you must live in the clouds while keeping at least one foot on the ground. First, determine whether your offering is financially viable; then you need to start thinking like a salesperson.
Commit to creating a solid infrastructure that will support your product(s) or service(s).
One mistake many new business owners make is pouring all their creative efforts into the product or service they offer. If you are going to succeed, however, it is critical to save some of that creative bandwidth to establish strong systems and get appropriate tools in place that will help you run your business efficiently.
Have a support system in place.
It can be hard to run a vegan business; you will have great days, and not-so-great days. For the latter it’s important to have a support system you can turn to. As you get started, look for online groups in Linkedin, Facebook and Google Plus. Join local entrepreneur meetups or connect with other local vegan businesses and non-profits. Maybe you have a mentor you call every few months, or a friend who’s a fellow vegan business owner. Surround yourself with people who encourage you, inspire you and can help when anything gets in the way of your dream.
Read through each of these tips, and if there are things that you can’t say an emphatic YES to, make a list of things you need to work on before you take your next steps.