This week’s question: The Miami Herald announced the winners of its business plan challenge. What do you think are the most important things to consider when launching a new business or venture?
First, congratulations to all the nominees and the winners. I firmly believe that the most important factor in launching a new business is the culture and interaction of its leadership. An organization takes its cues from the leadership and so when that leadership team is in sync culturally and operationally, its organization will follow.
Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW
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Launching a new business is always challenging and that is why the most important thing is to be prepared before you start. Understand your market and make sure you have a product or service with a differentiated brand proposition. Make sure you have a well-structured business plan covering all areas from financing and marketing to operations. Always build in enough financial reserves to keep you going if sales do not materialize at the rate you expect. Do not expect overnight success. Even if you struggle initially, learn from those experiences. The success of any good business leader is often about how you respond during the challenging times.
Hilarie Bass, co-president, Greenberg Traurig
The first consideration for a new business would be if it is a viable concept. Is there a market for your product or service? Does it fill a void or need? In the hotel business the old mantra — location, location, location — still rings true. You can build a hotel in a location that no one wants to visit and unless you can create area attractions and demand, it will sit empty. Once you get people in the door, then you must give excellent service and a quality product. Lastly, we were taught at FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality Management, there must be proper capitalization to sustain the start-up business. Many good businesses can fail if they are under-capitalized.
Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach
Sustainability and scalability, adequate capitalization and ensuring the right human resources are in place to sustain the business for the long-term.
Sister Linda Bevilacqua, president, Barry University
1. Test your idea before you invest a dollar in it. This is as easy as talking it up to anyone who will listen to you, both inside and outside of your circle of influence; “It will always cost more and take more time than you think.” 2. Make sure you have enough money, so be realistic when planning. 3. Be prepared for the long-haul. Too many people think a business will be a quick hit ... this is a marathon not a race. 4. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline
The most important things to consider when launching a new business or venture are a) Clarity on why am I doing this? The psychoneurosis associated with success/failure, is often associated with clear answers to this question; b) What does success look like, before/during, and what are the tangible, measurable indicators; c) What are the things that could influence my success/failure that I have control over or that I do not have control over, and what is my plan to manage them; d) Is what I am offering unique. If not, who is my competition, and what is my plan to get my share of the market; e) What is my plan to get and have enough operating capital to stay in business, until I reach my goal of breaking even — make a profit?
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
The most important considerations are viability and sustainability. Many good ideas fail due to lack of capital, cash flow and marketing. Financial plans require heavy duty numbers crunching, realistic expectations and good implementation in order to be successful.
Vicky Garrigo, market head, U.S. Southeastern Region Private Banking, HSBC Bank
An entrepreneur must be passionate about any new business that’s contemplated. To start something from scratch takes a lot of sacrifice and if passion isn’t there, the effort won’t be either. Also, develop a team you have confidence in and empower them to succeed. Finally, never be afraid of failure; taking risks is inevitable as you travel down the road of success.
Mitch Kaplan, founder, Books & Books
The most important thing is that you have to be passionate about the business that you have identified to grow. Passion and desire trumps experience and money. If you believe in something passionately and are fully committed to it, you can achieve your business objective. Sometimes, you also have to break the rules. When you are establishing a business, you are creating something new. You often need to put the traditional way of thinking aside and establish a different direction to achieve the results you’re aiming for.
Alan Kleber, managing director, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)
So many issues arise when starting a business and the reality is that having a solid plan is often the difference between long-term success and failure. Most businesses start with a great idea but aspiring entrepreneurs need to dig in to the details very quickly and look at the overall value proposition of the business, whether or not it truly fills a void in the marketplace, short- and long-term investments required, return on investment, and what opportunities they will provide for others. In addition, one area that is often overlooked is how the business will succeed in five, 10 or 20 years down the road. While we can’t necessarily predict what a business will look like in a decade, the lesson is that we have to always be thinking about the future.
Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors
Launching a new business requires a blend of elements, many of which are intangible and slightly abstract: passion, dedication and tenacity are crucial. The venture must be viable in terms of the market and demand for the product, capital funding must be secured and properly allocated, and a committed, well-trained staff from entry level positions to upper management is essential to create a venture that leads to success.
Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone’s Restaurant
1 + 1 = 5.
Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra
1. An original idea that solves a problem; 2. Financing; 3. Small business-friendly local governments; 4. Trustworthy partner whose skills are additive not redundant; 5. Having an indomitable will and unrelenting spirit of resiliency.
David Samson, president, Miami Marlins
Need, strategy, creativity and sustainability.
Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper