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Stop thinking, make it happen

Today, it boasts 20 million members and is one of the 25 most-trafficked web sites in the United States. Catherine made her first million dollars when she was 18 years old.

Young people have excellent ideas running in their heads. However, because of a lack of knowledge and information, some brilliant ideas remain as just ideas.

This has to change. If Zimbabwean youths get the same opportunities to start successful businesses as are available in developed countries, the problem of unemployment will be significantly reduced.

When you’re young, it is the best time to start your own business, as you do not have the responsibilities you will have when you’re older.
The worst that can happen if you fail now, is that you have first hand experience to make your next venture a success.

Think creatively

Last week I had a conversation with Prince, a young IT graduate with lots of ambitious ideas. After hearing three of them, I could see that the young man has done his research.

What he needed to do next was to think of how to implement one of those ideas. Creativity is necessary in starting a new business. You need to think of creative ways of raising funds for starting up, of marketing and selling your products, of recruiting skilled people and of beating the competition.

Business ideas come if you allow your mind to dream. Gather as much useful information as possible. Knowledge is power.

Today, with the internet now easily accessible, you can find all the information you need from anywhere in the world at a very low cost. Read business books. Know what the trends are in various parts of the world.

Entrepreneurship is not business as usual. You have to do things differently if you want to succeed. We already know that the majority of businesses in Zimbabwe are not being run as best as they could. Most are struggling to make profit or grow.

Although seeing that their ways of doing things are not working very well, older business owners are not able to change. Mediocrity can become entrenched.

Giant mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia, has been going through lean times recently. Last week, the company declared a loss of a billion dollars. What went wrong with the former market leader?

Management failed to move fast enough with a response to changes in technology.

The lesson? Success is temporary. You have to stay on your toes and quickly adapt to change in order to survive in business.
Here are some tips to help you turn ideas into viable businesses:

Write down a business plan

It is the best plan, as ideas can easily be forgotten. A written plan is essential to keep you focused on the target. The plan should cover what you intend to produce or supply, how and where you will do it, the resources you need and your target customers.
You may need to do some research in order to get the correct information that will enable you to make a viable plan. Time spent in planning is never time wasted.

Establish a business that has value in the market and solves a real problem
It’s the same as with any other type of company: The most important tasks for any entrepreneur are to see a problem in an industry, recognise an opportunity, and create a new business model that solves the problem

Do the math

Make sure that you know the costs. Determine your start up costs, cost of producing the products and operating expenses. This enables you to set correct prices that allow you to make profit.

Healthy margins enable your business to grow sustainably. If you get the numbers wrong, your business will be doomed. If your prices are too high, customers may go to your competitors; if they are too low, you won’t make enough profit to sustain and grow the business.

The Young Enterprise Club is all set for launch on February 1. Young people who want to spearhead setting up club chapters at their high schools, colleges and communities will find information on to go about it on our website http://smebusinesslink.com.

The purpose of the club is to motivate youths to start small businesses and to empower them with the necessary knowledge for setting up and running successful and sustainable enterprises. We hope to have some young millionaires like Catherine Cook in Zimbabwe before the year ends.

Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning and financial management consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email on chichonip@smebusinesslink.com.

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