What Are the Most Important Things to Know as I Prepare to Start My Own Business?

Donald Truss says don't underestimate the amount of marketing and sales energy needed to succeed
Industry Matters Newsletter
Donald Truss, ACS Career Consultant

A business can be viewed as a sales and marketing program that also makes a profit.

Wow, do you really want to work alone? Most people that start a small business do so to “fire their boss,” but the truth is that your new customers will be your new bosses. 

Have you applied for jobs with other companies? I hear people say - “I have sent out 200 resumes without receiving a single interview.” Sending out advertisements and making sales calls are very similar to sending out resumes and applying for jobs. 

Most scientists underestimate the amount of sales and marketing energy required to be successful. They assume that providing a high-quality product or service will become “obvious to our community,” and new customers will "come to you." This does not happen. You will quickly realize that you are in a very competitive environment, and customers will choose to buy from you for reasons unrelated to the quality of your product or service. 

Think about it. Last time you bought shampoo, did you read the ingredients and think: “Yes, this formula looks effective, and the price is reasonable for these ingredients.” Probably not. It is more likely that you looked at all of the products on the shelf and eventually said “I’ll take this one.” The decision to buy was based on many things other than the actual quality of the product. Things like the color of the packaging, the name of the product, and things other people have said about it in the past. 

If you choose to start your own business – this is the arena you are stepping into. The world will not beat a path to your door. You will have to find potential customers and lead them, step by step, to understand your products or services. But if you succeed – it feels GREAT! 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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