What sort of ﬁrm to start?
This question is understandable, but is about as useful as asking what sort of child to have. Whatever the ﬁrm starts as, it is quite likely to mutate with the passage of time as new opportunities arise and are explored.
Success stories include people who stuck to a ﬁeld they knew, as well as those who broke away into something completely novel. The only really sound advice that applies to everyone is this: take time to investigate every aspect before committing yourself.
Even so, it is possible to come to a decision.
If you have not already decided what to do you can use as starting points:
- Knowledge of an industry, looking for unsuspected opportunities in a ﬁeld you know.
- Knowledge of a sport, game or pastime, seeking ways to supply others with that interest proﬁtably.
- Knowledge of an occupation or profession, supplying erstwhile colleagues with some service they need.
- Looking at things for sale on eBay, seeing what strange opportunities exist to sell almost anything.
- If you have contacts in retail or manufacturing, buying cheaply ends of ranges and seconds.
- Getting a job in an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) and learning how they work.
If you conclude that you have no useful knowledge at all, check that belief with someone used to thinking creatively and laterally. It might be a family member, someone in the pub or a business adviser; the important thing is to free the mental logjam.
Unless there are very good reasons to the contrary, do not just copy on a small scale a former employer. If that was a manufacturer, you might be able to supply the market without making a thing, perhaps by linking up with a subcontractor or even an overseas, relieving you of a great deal of trouble.
A talk to the commercial attachés of the newer EU countries or even a trip out there could yield all kinds of opportunities to import or to act as sales agent.
These thoughts lead on to another, one of general principle. Which do you feel more comfortable with, the idea of dipping a toe in the water at ﬁrst and building things up if it seems to work, or right from the start committing to doing the full job?
Those are questions of temperament and you need to think out the answer for yourself, best of all with advice from someone who knows you well.
It is worth forming a relationship with a business adviser so as to have someone to bounce your ideas off. This must be someone with a ﬁne balance between imagination and realism as well as experience outside a narrow, professional ﬁeld.