Starting a Service Business

Financial Compatibility

Before you decide to get into business for yourself selling services, there are two issues to consider regarding financial compatibility--income and investment money. First, when deciding what type of service to sell, you have to consider how much money you want to earn and how much money you need to earn. If you need to earn $75,000 per year to pay your personal expenses, there is little sense in starting a dog-walking service. Perhaps there are a few dog walkers earning this much, but it's not a realistic expectation. How much money do you want to earn--that is, how ambitious are you? Again, you must be realistic and relatively sure the service you choose to sell has the potential to generate enough income to live on in the short-term, and the potential to match your income goals in the longer term. Income doesn't have to factor into the business startup equation for everyone. If you want and need to earn only a little money from a part-time or retirement business, the income equation will not factor as heavily as other issues.

The second big financial compatibility issue affecting your decision about which business to start or purchase is the amount of money needed to start or purchase the business. Not only will you need to have or have access to the investment needed to get rolling, but you'll also need extra money for working capital to cover day-to-day operating expenses until the business achieves positive cash flow. This can take a week, a month or even a year.

Ultimately, financial compatibility is important when starting a business and deciding what services to sell. If you cannot afford to start the business and don't have the financial resources to pay operating expenses and your wages until the business can break even, you'll probably have to look at alternative options, such as starting part time, choosing a different business to start, or waiting until you have acquired the money needed to get started.

Finding a Good Match

You also must be well suited to start and operate the business and services you're considering providing. You and your business must be a good match. You may have an interest and even experience in a specific business or in providing a specific service, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good match. Here are a few points to consider when determining a good business match.

  • Do you have the financial resources to start or purchase the business, and enough money to pay the day-to-day operating expenses until the business breaks even and is profitable? If not, it's probably not a good match, and you should consider alternatives.
  • Does the business have the potential to generate the income you need to pay your personal expenses, and does it also have the potential to generate the income you want to earn? This is very important because if you can't pay your own personal bills, you'll soon be in trouble. And if, over time, you can't earn the income you want to earn, you'll lose interest in the business--a recipe for disaster.
  • Are you physically healthy enough to handle the physical strains of starting and running the business? If not, you may end up having to hire people for the job, which can be problematic if the business revenues aren't there to support both management and employee wages.
  • Do you have experience in this type of business or service, and do you have any special skills that can be utilized in the business? You can gain experience and knowledge on the job but skills that can be utilized and capitalized upon right away are extremely valuable.
  • Are there any special certificates or educational requirements to start and operate the business, and are these readily available? Find out the upfront costs associated with these, how they can be obtained, and the time frame needed to obtain specific certificates. Training and certification shouldn't be viewed negatively because often the return on time and investment is substantially rewarded financially. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
  • Will you enjoy operating the business, and does it match your personality type and level of maturity? This is very important. If you don't think that you would enjoy it, then don't start. Again, the loss of interest in a business is almost certainly the kiss of death. You can't stay motivated and rise to new challenges if you don't like what you're doing.

James Stephenson invests his fifteen years of small business, marketing and sales experience into his books. He has started and operated numerous successful homebased businesses, and is author of the highly acclaimed books Ultimate Start-Up Directoryand Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guideas well as the 202 Series. James operates Stephenson & Stephenson, a consulting firm providing small business owners with creative, results-based marketing solutions.

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