Dear Aunty B,
I am a partner and director of a small stock brokerage firm. It’s a family-owned business and my cousins are co-owners. I am 26 years old and have been working here for four years.
We’re doing OK right now, and make a normal profit. But I want to start a new business (single owner). Reasons vary, from stagnant growth, unprofessional team and ethical issues. The future doesen’t look very promising and I do not wish to waste more time. I think if I go solo, I can take a fast track.
I have a bachelor of finance and have always been working in the capital markets. I was thinking of starting a business in mining (or minerals trading) or starting one of the carbon-related businesses, which are enticing. I am sure I want to be a part of an industry where growth will be on an uptrend for the next few years. I don’t want to get stuck up on the wrong side of the cycle.
However I don’t have any kind of technical know-how since I am not a mining or environmental engineer. I have always been in the service industry and have no experience in manufacturing.
Does it make sense for me to pursue such an industry where I don’t have any technical know-how? I can hire people, but how will I lead?
I can put in reasonable startup capital (about $150,000) and have the ability to raise the same. I have good business acumen, but I can be slow at execution, which I am trying to improve.
All said, I am not scared to jump in the ocean.
What should I do ?
I love a man who is not afraid to jump into the ocean. And in the middle of winter! Look, your problem is easily solved. You have lots of options.
Start looking for a business partner. The potential business partner could be working in a large corporate in mining or mining services. They can see they can do a better job than their boss, and they are looking for a partner who can raise some money and run the finances. Or you will find the person through your networks. Alternatively you could approach an executive or investor in the mining industry and see what opportunities there are. (See You want a money miracle?, How to get money from the rich and famous and Aunty B.)
Alternatively you could make a small investment in an existing start-up in a carbon-related industry. There are a lot of grants around to get these businesses started.
But may I say you are being a little short sighted. You are 26, so no wonder you are in such a hurry. But the capital markets will turn. If you start planning the business now, launch early next year, you won’t miss the cycle. You will be ahead of the cycle. You will be amazed at all the opportunities that emerge as the incumbents are left licking their wounds.
It is not ideal to pursue an industry where you don’t have the know-how. But plenty of people do – and they do extremely well.
But do you know what I find most encouraging about you? You know your weaknesses. That means you are not so insecure and will hire people who are better than you – the key to entrepreneurial success. Put together the right team, and they lead you!
Your Aunty B.
Neil Bolton writes: I agree with Aunty B on all fronts (I get the impression it’s not wise to disagree, but I digress.) I love it that you can see your weaknesses. I love it that you’re prepared to have a crack at it. And doing it right at this time is perfect. Get a business running well now and when things turn up you will ride the wave. And you have such an advantage over existing businesses – they’re stuck in their existing ways, some of which aren’t doing them much good in our little alleged downturn. Have a go at it! Do a damn good business plan and make it realistic. Seek advice but only believe the advice from people who have done it before. And if you blow it, chalk it up to experience and have another go!