By Nilooka Dissanayake
The idea of a home-based business is catching up fast. A lot of professional women are now beginning to stay at home to look after children and are exploring possible avenues for earning an income from home. And of course, the traditional housewives are always alert to the possibility and the need for supplementing the family income.
It is not just the money that drives these women. Quite a lot of them are also looking at a pleasant and comfortable way of earning money. They know what work-life is in an office or in a factory. They also know the problems they face en route to work – the crowded buses and trains, the harassment and the long hours wasted. They are seeking satisfaction and a home business is ideal for this. It is really killing two birds with one stone.
But, they must remember that a home business is still a business and we say that starting a business is like setting out on a never-ending journey. Yes, not just a long journey, but a never-ending one.
If we are undertaking a long journey, be it a business trip, a pleasure trip or a pilgrimage we prepare ourselves for it and plan ahead. Where do we go, when, what mode of transport, how should we dress or gear ourselves, what and where do we eat and sleep or stopover and of course how much will it cost are some of the things we ask. Similarly, when thinking of starting a business operation one has to ask a set of questions and find an answer before doing anything else.
What should an aspiring entrepreneur ask?
Whether you are thinking of a home-based business or setting up a business separately you will still be the most important asset of that business. So the first question to ask is whether you have the necessary qualities to be a successful entrepreneur.
If you are toying with the idea of going into business even on a very small scale you need to appreciate what you are getting into. The never-ending journey of business does not necessarily take you across lush green pastures and parklands. You have to cross desert terrain and dark forests. You have to fight off wild beasts and be prepared to withstand a variety of weather conditions. You have to appreciate that all things will not go as planned; that you will get rain when you need sunshine; and be prepared for these eventualities.
What qualities do you need to become a successful entrepreneur?
We (at Athwela) have identified eight types of qualities. They are
- Business skills, attitudes, and experience
- General health and ability to withstand stress
- Self-confidence and positive thinking
- People skills
- Determination and dedication
- Innovation and creativity
- Life-style, family life and handling private finances
- Being realistic and assessing risk
To help you find out how you fare in each category we have formulated a set of eight statements, which make an overall total of 64 which you can answer by selecting “Yes” or “No.” For example, under the “Lifestyle” category which is very important to the future of a home-based business, we have the following statements:
My family supports my idea to start a home-based business
My family appreciates that I will have to work with dedication and commitment to make my business a success.
They also know that we cannot expect a substantial income right at the beginning; and that as a result, they cannot expect a steady income from my business.
I know that I can successfully manage my business affairs while shouldering the responsibilities in the home.
My family unit is strong enough to withstand any losses or trying periods that arise as a result of my business activities.
I have a good grasp of my personal and family expenditure.
My family has sufficient finances to see us through until my business begins to make a profit.
My business aspirations are in line with our family lifestyle and our personal aspirations.
Once you have gone through this, you yourself will realise what the potential problem areas could be.
Similarly, if you go through all 64 statements, it makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses and highlights the areas which need attention or improvement. We must appreciate that this list is not exhaustive. It merely provides guidance to help you decide whether you are suited to business life and whether an entrepreneur’s life is for you.
Clearly, almost no one will be able to say “Yes” to all 64 statements. But, this is only a beginning. We must then go on from here and develop the qualities that you lack. No one is born as a successful entrepreneur and you can develop these skills quite easily if you put your mind to it.
When you have come to this stage you will clearly know in your heart whether business is for you. And if you are still keen, you will have to find a business idea, again to suit you and your circumstances. Next week we will look at how to identify a business idea. Then we can assess its feasibility and develop it to make a successful business.
- Starting A Home Based Business: Adapted versions of a series of 25 Articles
By Nilooka Dissanayake, published in the Ceylon Daily News between 2000 and 2001.
- ©Nilooka Dissanayake. The contents of these articles may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission by the writer.
- The set of statements above has been drawn with permission from the book “Gruhastha Vyaparayak Arambamu” or Starting a Home Business, (ISBN 955-8429-01-5) published in Sinhala by Athwela (Private) Limited. At present, they are out of print.