Thursday, 2 April 2015

Pop-up or Blow up?

If you want your pop-up to success, keep the rules of a regular business in mind. Image via iStock

by Marcus Powe PhD, Entrepreneur in Residence, RMIT

Pop-up shops are often placed in the amateur category, but temporary business ventures aren’t all that different to their permanent cousins.  

The pop-up shop is a clever and interesting way to test and launch a new business. Rental of the shop is short - and sometimes free -  but this is the only difference between a pop-up and a start up when it comes to business fundamentals.

Entrepreneurs often think think the pop-up is different from other businesses, but this is not the case. All businesses when they open for the first time are pop-ups.

When launching a pop-up you need to consider the same things you would if you were to start a business. Most people will automatically recoil at yet another checklist, so it’s best to simply consider why so many businesses collapse in their first year? The numbers are horrifying. Just think, if we had 100 businesses pop-up (read, start) how many would be trading by the end of the year in Victoria?

The reason so many businesses fail is that they have not followed a set of steps to increase the likelihood of sustained activity and prosperity.

The first step is to determine if anyone wants your product. How do you know? How do you find out? When you do research you must then check again and again before you pop-up. You also need to figure out how you will create interest; make some noise; and educate the market.

The second step is to work out what has created the demand or need for your product and why is it you who should provide it? The demand could be created by changes in rules and regulations; the economy; society (fashion and fads); technology; or globalisation, etc. Often we are so focused on what we do that we miss the big shifts in the thinking and perceptions of our customers.

The third step: Can you make more money than you spend? This applies to for profit and not-for-profit, there is absolutely no difference. You need to find an accountant - now.

The fourth step is the simplest but the most important. You. Can you do it? Really? Do what? Work hard and long, never give up, ask for help? The real thing I prescribe is finding someone to unload with. Don't take the downs and the frustrations home. Talk to entrepreneurs, they understand, they really do. Rejection is normal and it hurts. Customers reject your product, not you. This is very hard lesson when you pop-up or start a business.

The last step: Why are you popping up? The money? A creative outlet? No one else is doing it? Please think and talk about why you want to start a business, after all, popping up is not for everyone.

If you do want checklists look at the web. A simple search for “pop-up” will return many views and opinions. It looks like simplicity has been turned into complexity.

Happiness is a positive cash flow

Marcus Powe will be at the Entrepreneurs' Coffee Club in SAB, building 80 at 8am on Monday the 20th of April. Details: http://www1.rmit.edu.au/entinres/ercoffeeclub


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