11 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Mosaics Business

The conventional advice is "make a business plan." That's all wrong – says a guy who has started several businesses, one of which helped others craft business plans. Before you make a business plan there are some things you, a potential entrepreneur, must settle with yourself and your loved ones.

Here are the questions you need to answer before you commit:

1. How will it make other lives better? Yes, other lives not yours. In business it's about "them," not the business, its owners or employees. If you aren't solving a problem that others are willing to pay for, you won't get a customer or client. It is not necessary that the enterprise transform the lives of its customers, but it must make their life better for at least a moment.

2. What do you possess or control that allows you to make others lives better? As beautiful as your mosaic art may be, the aesthetics of your mosaic art won't make someone's life better. What might is the emotion they evoke, or the status that someone feels, or the statement that it makes about them. As knowledge packed and easy to understand as your mosaic classes may be, the knowledge transfer doesn't make someone's life better. What might is the confidence they gain, or the adventure you help them begin, or the success you equip them to achieve.

3. What must you acquire to make other lives better? The answer may very well be – "nothing." On the other hand, you may need to acquire or polish certain artistic, business, or communications skills either personally or through associates. You may need to acquire certain assets i.e. facilities, tools, materials. Before you commit to the entrepreneurial journey is the time to understand these needs.

4. What is the end game – your vision? At some point in the future you will have to weigh the collective efforts of the enterprise against whatever the efforts yield. What should that yield look like? What purpose will be fulfilled to have made it worth your efforts?

5. What type of business will it be? For purposes of this article there are 3 - side business, lifestyle business, and growth business. The side business is not full-time and is unlikely to yield a profit sufficient to support a lifestyle. The lifestyle business is full-time, expected to yield a profit sufficient to support a lifestyle and will be unlikely to continue past the founders involvement. The growth business is expected to serve a large market and be attractive to investors. Each has pros and cons. Your job is to determine which will best achieve your vision and blend with the rest of your life's needs.

6. How long is your runway? The term "runway" generally refers to financial resources and indicates how quickly a business must take off (become cash flow positive).

7. What circumstances should end the venture? "Circumstances" is a broad term that you define. One of the circumstances should include how much money and/or time will you put at risk before you terminate the venture. We all know that a new business has a greater probability of failure than success. So if it is not working out, you should be prepared to stop the losses.

8. If it becomes clear that the thesis of your business won't work in the timeframe you allowed, can you be objective enough to accept it and pivot? Very few businesses are reported to work as originally planned. Entrepreneurs that stick to a broken thesis are likely to get broke. Be prepared to recognize what is not working, and adjust for it.

9. Who is the competition? It is sad that some business founders believe and state that there is not competition for their business. That is only true until the business commences operations. From then on it must compete with businesses that may seem irrelevant for a share of the customer's wallet.

10. How will you deal with competition? There are two, and only two, ways to deal with competition - discounting or differentiation? Walmart, the great discounter, used differentiation to avoid competing with Kmart until it had purchasing power sufficient to compete with them on price. So how will you make your mosaics business different than the others in your market place?

11. Do you have the family support to succeed? This is the most important question and deserves to be the first question, but the family can't understand what you are asking them to support until you answer the earlier questions. When one launches and grows a mosaics business (or other business) there cannot be a family – business balance. You need to settle on a family – business blend.

This article has presented an amount of negativity towards becoming a mosaics entrepreneur, but that is not intended to discourage anyone. To the contrary, the intent is to encourage successful mosaic businesses by facilitating an honest appraisal of the dream to become a mosaics entrepreneur. Our world needs to have a lot more successful mosaics businesses because they have the greatest impact on the propagation of this great and ancient art form.

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