A small business is by no means a lesser one to the big corporates out there – even they were once small.
The term ‘small’ simply refers to the size of the company in terms of its turn-over (less than R1 million per annum) and its number of staff (usually 50 or less), certainly not its clout.
In fact, it’s often small businesses that give large corporates a run for their money as being small allows for greater agility and flexibility, quicker turn-around time, and greater room for customisation. Ready to get your small business started?
A small business can start in a home kitchen, a spare room; it can start in a garage. It can start in a small rented office space with just a laptop computer and yourself manning it, or it can start between friends, spouses, business partners.
Mostly though, a small business has minimal staff, is started with a small amount of capital, and it carries low overheads.
Need small business ideas?
Take a look at the list below to help you start brainstorming. The key is to examine an industry that you have strengths in, and determine whether the skills and character you have (or can develop) can meet a need within that industry.
Here are some examples of businesses you can start from home:
Air-conditioner and appliance repair
Antique restoration and resale
Aquarium supplies and maintenance
If you have a skill and it can be sold to someone who needs your skills, it is a business.
Body guard service.
If you are looking at service oriented businesses, make sure you are properly qualified to perform the service and registered with the appropriate associations for credibility.
Computer maintenance and repair
Computer training or programming
Construction and clean-up
Customer service professional
People will buy a product or service if it makes their lives that little more convenient.
Something that saves people time, money or hassle is essential for a sustainable business.
Driving service or school
Data capture or data analysis service
Dog training, walking or grooming
Disaster prevention and planning service
Direct mail marketing service
We know you were thinking Doctor – however, there are options beyond being a ‘doctor’.
E-tail secret shopper to see if someone’s e-tail experience is easy.
If it’s happening online, you can add an e- to it.
Furniture removal company
Fire-hydrant maintenance and sales.
Whatever you do, it doesn’t always matter if it’s a traditional or ‘old’ business, so long as you’re doing things differently and that they’re meeting the needs and interests of the modern consumer.
Although established internationally, an up-and-coming industry in South Africa is all things green, from construction to materials, to greening businesses through lowered carbon footprints.
Green cleaning service
If green doesn’t float your boat, there are household aggravations like:
Gluten free products and foods creation and baking.
Holiday planning service
Home inspection service
House-sitting service and anything home-based.
Image or Internet researcher
Be careful to research your industry properly before entering in to it, take ink cartridge refilling for example. As technology changes, will you be able to sustain your business?
Got space? How about a junk yard?
First aid kits like cyclist and other sports, or kit-cars for motor enthusiasts.
Lab consultant or running your own lab
Provided whatever you do adds value to the customer that they can’t get elsewhere, you’re on to a good idea.
Start your own marketing company
mobile food truck
The latest trend as technology advances is for things to be mobile.
Nurse – Think a post-operative care service, or even elderly care.
We’re drawing at straws for this one, especially when the only thing you can come up with is ‘zoo’. But even they might need some services outsourced.
Tips about selecting a small business idea
So now your brain is thoroughly overflowing with new business ideas. But before you go quitting your job and investing everything you own into it, it’s time to assess whether it can be turned into a sustainable small business.
Here’s what you need to evaluate:
Who is the target market? There’s no business if no one will buy your product or service. Is your target market able to afford (and prepared to pay) for it? Do you have reams of market analysis about your target market’s likes and dislikes, area densities, income, responsibilities, age, gender, education etc? The clearer the picture you can paint of your target market, the more able you are to provide to them.
What makes you stand out? Does your idea already exist? If so, what are you doing differently to your competition? Is there something unique or value adding that you offer? If your business idea is new, is your target market ready to take you on? SEO, for example, was around a long time before businesses saw its value and started paying money for it. Make sure your business has a unique selling proposition (USP).
Money, money, money. While some ideas are great, whether it will translate into an awesome business is determined by a financial feasibility study. What will it cost you to get the business off the ground, how long will you need to wait before you break even and see a return on investment? What are the on-going expenses like overheads? How will you bridge the gap between starting the business to it becoming profitable? Once you’ve completed a feasibility study, you may be disappointed to discover that the idea just won’t make a profitable and sustainable business. Don’t be sad though, at least you discovered this before you poured in your life-savings into a dead-end idea. Keep thinking.
Choosing a small business idea based on strengths and passions
Everyone has skills. The trick is to see what skills you have in your current job or through your work experience that are transferrable into your new business.
Take a hard look at your business idea and see whether you’ve got both the personality traits and the necessary skills to make it happen.
If the answer is yes, keep going. If you find that you’re quitting your corporate job because you despise it, starting a business to capitalise on that same work experience might not be your calling.
Assess what your personal interests are, what you’re passionate about, and how you can use the skills you have to turn it into a business. Entrepreneurs need to be passionate about their business idea – as it will be passion that motivates you during tough times.
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