Article by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
It takes a lot to start a business. You are about to embark on a very demanding endeavor. This is the time to be completely honest with yourself and take an inventory of your personal strengths, weaknesses, available time, talents, and resources. The last thing you want to do is to start a business that will require more of you than you can provide. Not only do you have to think about your current situation, but you have to think about where you will be physically, mentally, and financially in ten to thirty years from now.
Health: Running a business is not easy. It’s hard work, both physically and mentally. Are you in good health? Do you have the physical strength and stamina to handle the workload? How about the emotional strength to withstand the strain of running your business and possibly dealing with the financial stress?
Time: How much time are you allocating for your business? Is it going to be full-time or part-time? You would think that full-time means 40 hours per week, but according to a DIA survey of Retail Dive Centers, the average was 52 hours per week, and the range of responses was from 21 hours to 91 hours. That’s double full-time! When you are planning your new business, you might want to consider the amount of time you need to operate the business successfully and consider that amount will have a tendency to creep up or down, depending on your enthusiasm. Can you commit to that many hours? What about your other job? Your family? Your Kids? Your sleep?
Money: Your business plans will give you more realistic financial data concerning how much money you will need to start and then operate your business, but for now, the question is, “Do you have enough money to fund your start-up? Can you meet your current living expenses without taking any money from the business? Do you have sufficient savings to back you up in case of an unexpected need for additional cash? And finally, are you prepared to lose your entire savings to keep the business afloat if necessary?
Knowledge: To succeed in the diving industry, you have to understand business, and you have to know the industry. So many people have gotten it wrong over the years. They knew everything about diving but dropped the ball when it came to knowing about business. The mistake they made was trying to create a business around a hobby they loved. Every time it came to deciding between diving or business, they chose diving. This led to their going out of business. In many cases, they financially bled to death over a long period of time and lost a lot of money in the process. Believe it or not, the same thing can happen when you know all about business but don’t know the diving market. You have to know and love both.
Education: Entrepreneurs wear many hats when they own a business. Do you have the necessary education in business, finance, marketing, advertising, accounting, law, human resources, merchandising, taxes, government compliance, and business management? If you are opening a retail store, have you been taught to be a Scuba Instructor, Regulator Repair Technician, Compressor Mechanic, and Dive Travel Specialist?
Experience: The best way to succeed in the diving industry is to work in it before you open your own business. Get the experience of working with the programs, products and services that are sold in the industry. Learn all about the different industries that specialize in diving and who the leading companies are. Get a feel for the norms and paradigms that are used in moving goods and services through our supply and demand pipelines. Capture the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the recreational diving market. Get experience working with divers as they learn to dive, get outfitted for their first set of diving equipment, plan their first diving trip and return home to become active divers. Get to know the buying patterns of your future customers and learn all about their needs as active divers in the recreational diving market.
You’ll also need the experience of working with buyers and sellers of diving equipment, training, travel, and lifestyle products. I can tell you all about the benefits of gaining first-hand experience in the Global Diving Business Community after doing it myself for over forty years, but there is no better way than working in the industry and learning it for yourself.
Entrepreneur Skill Set: There are certain skill sets that make business people better at their craft. It pays to be a people person and be able to get along well with others. As an employee, you need to be able to take direction and take charge of things in the absence of supervision. You have to be honest and respect the position and authority given to you. You need to be organized and perform your assignments in a timely manner. As a business owner, you will expect no less from your employees.
Work Ethic: Above all, you must be industrious and have a good work ethic. You need willpower and self-discipline and must be a self-starter. You must be able to make decisions and stick with a project until it is completed. You must be able to work on multiple tasks but set limits on what you attempt to do. When working on multiple tasks, you need to be able to prioritize your assignments and adapt well to changing circumstances. As a new business owner, you will be subject to competition that you should acknowledge and confidently work to overcome. And mostly, you must believe in yourself, your company, your products, and your people.
If you have all of these traits, many of them, or are even willing to learn how to acquire them; there is hope for you as an entrepreneur. By the way, my definition of an Entrepreneur is a person who invests their time, money and manpower to start and run a business, assuming the risks and rewards that it presents. If you have the time, money, manpower, knowledge, experience, and passion for turning your love of scuba diving into a business, my hat is off to you.
In the first two chapters of this ‘Starting Your Own Business’ series, you discovered that it’s best to have a vision and a purpose before thinking about starting your own business. In this chapter, you were shown a few things that it takes to start and run your own business. If you still believe that you could successfully start, manage, and grow your own recreational diving business, then it’s time to move on to the planning stage of your venture to see if it will be worth it to start a business. Good luck with your self-assessment. We’ll see you next month when we start to dive into a few details.
For more information on conducting a self-assessment, as it relates to a dive industry professional, contact: Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association. Phone 321-914-3778. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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