India’s economic crisis, caused largely by the faulty polices of the UPA government, have battered the country’s industry in a way not seen for the last two decades. The widespread corruption in the government and the alienation of the top leaders of UPA from common citizens of the country is contributing significantly to the economic decline. The IT, telecom, manufacturing and services sector continue to grow, but at a very slow pace, and more than 50 per cent of the population is today employed in agriculture. The number of Indians engaged in agriculture doesn’t compare too favourably with other emerging market countries.
One of the hardest hit segments of the population is the country’s youth, who are finding it increasingly difficult to find new jobs. As per the latest data released by the central statistical office, India’s employment rate has slipped to 38.6 per cent in 2011-12, from 39.2 per cent in 2009-10. In 2004-05, when the UPA took charge for the first time, the employment rate was 42 per cent. Official data released in 2011 had showed that just 2.7 million new jobs were created in the five years between 2004-05 and 2009-10. This is sharply lower than the 60 million jobs created in the previous five years. Youth unemployment is the highest among young graduates, which is a clear indication of the lack of employment opportunities for educated youth.
Given that the UPA is mired in corruption, contradictions, indecision and real lack of concern for the financial problems that people are facing, there is very little chance of economic improvement in the country in near term. Even the large companies are in trouble. Even if you are employed in a major corporation, there is no guarantee that you will be holding on to your job few months down the line. Given the lack of viable employment opportunities, a large number of Indians have to opt for self-employment or starting their own business.
Many who are currently employed also dream of starting their own business because they have a passion, they like being in control or they are looking for more flexibility.
It is a misconception that starting a business takes lot of money. Most small businesses are launched on shoestring budget and sweat-equity, but even if they can support a few employees, they would be making valuable service to the society. If you are looking for inspiration, you should read Chris Guillebeau’s best-selling book—The $100 Startup [Available on Flipkart for Indian National Rupee (INR) 350]. Chris Guillebeau says most small businesses around the world have been started for INR 50,000 or less, and a number of them for INR 5,000 or less. At times, businesses get started through purchase of domain name, which normally costs around INR 500.
However, if you have not done your basic planning, then the dream of starting your own business can easily turn into a nightmare. Your general idea has to be turned into a specific idea. You have to know what you are selling, and to whom you are selling. When you are starting a new business, the lesser money you put in at the early stage the better; your major investment should consist of your sweat equity. Experience shows that actually having too much money at a business launch can be wasteful. It can lead to lazy and ultimately stupid business decisions.
Here are some tips that will help you achieve the dream of owning a business:
Have a clear plan
In starting a new business, you are staking your time, your energy, and your own money. There is very little room for making mistakes. You should have a clear idea of what service or product you are offering, how much will it cost you, how much you can charge in order to make a profit and how long it will take for you to close a deal and receive payment. You also need to figure out the cost of maintaining a website, if needed, and the cost of advertising, marketing and purchase of basic materials.
Do you have the time?
It takes considerable amount of time to run a business. Do you have that much of time to spare? You also need to decide if you want to start a new business as a part time endeavour or do you want it to be a full-time prospect.
Take account of the competition
You have to do a comprehensive research in the area of business that you wish to enter. There must be others who might be delivering same or similar kind of goods and services that you are planning to do. How did they start their business? More importantly, how is their business doing now? Try to talk to their employees to find out the issues that the business faces. Get feedback from the people whom you expect to use your goods and services. In case you are planning to enter an area that is entirely new, then it might not be possible for you to take the feedback of potential competitors, as you are the first entrant to venture into this space. But you can still try to speak to people who you might think will be your potential clients.
Cut costs through technology
Funding is the biggest obstacle to new entrepreneurs. New entrepreneurs can take advantage of technology to create sophisticated business models. You can run your business online initially, instead of investing in a brick and mortar office. Technology offers lot of novel choices for cost cutting that you should explore.