Business is not only about capital and marketing, having a detailed plan is also crucial.
"I don't think people understand the amount of research and analysis that needs to be put in before starting a business. People start a business and then analyse the situations as they come along, but that is not very fruitful," said Shurbarna Sharmin
Nupur, proprietor of Bagerhat Eco-Tourism.
While starting your own business might seem enticing, there are many pitfalls as well. So, be ready to endure failures while having the perseverance to get back up.
Keeping the family in mind
Many aspects play a key role in deciding to start a business. One such aspect may be the toll it takes on family life.
For Abdullah Riyad, an entrepreneur who has multiple small ventures like Shakirin, Aambuzz and PasheThaki, his parents have been a strong support system in the journey of setting up a business.
"My father is a small businessman himself. Although he was a little skeptical [about letting me start my business] because of the hurdles of building a successful one, he let me work on my objectives as I wished. My mother, on the other hand, always supports me in everything I do as long as it's not harming anyone," said Riyad.
However, not everyone is as lucky. So, before starting a business just remind yourself if you want the business enough to fight your close ones.
Taslima Miji, owner of the leather brand Gootipa, shared how her family was against her opening a business, yet she managed to set it up anyway. "Your family might not support all your decisions but you just have to push forward with it," she said.
Taslima now owns a successful business. Started in 2016, Gootipa now has one flagship outlet and a section in Gulshan 1 Unimart.
Things were different for Medina Ali. Her family business, which she could tap into with her expertise, allowed her to set up her own. She founded Dr Chashi, a Bangladeshi start-up focused on agriculture technology, which offers a comprehensive digital solution for farming activities powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
"My family was a great part of my decision. My family made sure that I study, work and gain experience in a way that I can contribute to Bangladesh and my family, with innovation and work that suits the changing needs and demands of people," she said.
When she began working on software-related aspects of the family business distribution channel, she found many problems in the agricultural sector. "That is when the idea of using AI to help farmers came to me, and we started Dr Chashi in 2022," she shared.
Sizeable capital or bootstrapping?
Though self-financing or investment from angel investors or venture capital firms are often the go-to sources for capital, Abdullah Riyad considers bootstrapping – building a business without external assistance – to be extremely important. "Nowadays, everyone is so focused on raising funds that they forget about building a business first," he said.
Also, it is important to make sure you don't underspend or overspend. For example, packaging is something you can save money on depending on the product, but you definitely cannot skimp on marketing.
For instance, Taslima said, "Self-marketing is very, very important." In the day and age of social media and a robust marketing industry, standing out in the crowd is important.
No room for half-baked ideas
A solid game plan ensures your business does not collapse even before it takes off owing to a half-baked idea. For a business plan, you need to identify your product, the costs involved, the funding, target customers and potential competitors.
Essentially, self-awareness is key, and so is strategic market research and planning.
"It is not easy to run a business. So, one should not follow another business blindly. And do a thorough market survey," said Taslima.
An in-depth analysis of who your target audience is, and how your product might cater to them, will give you an idea about the marketing process as well as the distribution process.
In an oversaturated market it is important to market your product in a way that attracts a certain cross-section of the public. Thorough research would also enable you to identify potential points of failure so you can take precautions beforehand.
"Before starting a business you should be certain about the type and scale of your business. If you have budget for a shop in Mohammadpur but dream of opening a shop at Gulshan, you will only be disappointed," said Shurbarna Sharmin Nupur, proprietor of Bagerhat Eco-Tourism and currently working as a project coordinator at Egis India Consulting Engineers Pvt Ltd.
You cannot get carried away by seeing others' business elements, because you don't know how much money they have or what their business plan is.
Similarly, you cannot expect to make a profit within just a couple of months of starting a business.
However, it is important to take calculated risks in business, opined Shubarna.
Scope out required skill set
Entrepreneurs need to be prepared to carry out multiple roles for their business. Identify the required skills to run a successful business, one can either get training or be prepared to hire people for certain tasks.
Taslima said, "It is important to find out if your skillset is appropriate for the type of business you want to create, because oftentimes, at the initial stage of business, you do not have many people helping you. Entrepreneurs have to single-handedly carry out different responsibilities, including keeping accounts, marketing, sourcing material, customer service and a lot more."
Be a hands-on leader
"Business is not something you can do sitting at home, you have to be involved in every step of the process," said Shubarna Sharmin.
"Egis Group has its presence in 120 countries. Its owner, who is in his 70s, goes to a different country every three days to oversee the offices. This is what makes a business successful," she added.
Business owners need to do the sourcing and see distribution firsthand. It is also important for them to speak to the employees and customers because direct communication offers insights into what needs to be done to improve a business.
Seeing their feedback being taken into heed will also show the consumers that they are being heard, creating a sense of personal bonding between the owner/s and the customers. Also, adding a personal touch to your social media platforms, blogs, websites, etc. will help you stand out.
Adapt to the times
Entrepreneurs should be ready to adapt to the times and develop their products to suit the needs of the consumers.
Medina Ali, founder of Dr Chashi, a Bangladeshi start-up focused on agriculture technology, said, "a lot happens in the world and in our lives that we never expected or planned for. External factors always impact our plans and decisions. Therefore, having a resilient and persistent mindset is really important," said Medina. She also said young entrepreneurs should be ready to expect change and be ready to expect the unexpected.
Identify business growth
One should make sure to devise a method to identify business growth or the lack thereof because numbers don't lie. Without measuring business growth, one cannot find what is needed for further business development.
You should have clear estimates of how much a product or service is costing you and how much you are earning from it.
Be careful in choosing business partners
In the case of choosing partners for your business, be sure to chalk up comprehensive contracts.
However, it is advisable not to do business with family members as it can put a strain on the relationship. Even if you do, have everything in writing – a verbal agreement is not enough to mitigate complicated and unpredictable situations in case of ownership dispute, sharing profits, division of labour and transfer of shares.