Your business should bring a decent, steady income. Maybe more than that, but at least the bottomline. You have dreamt of the outcome. Putting it into action will require a few essential building blocks: the answers to some really key questions.

Before you set your expectations for clever, sophisticated ones, let me say they will be quite common sense. And hard. Answering them head on will put you ahead of the game.

Here’s a brief introduction to them. Being as important as they are, we will revisit the subject in detail in a guiding document to download and work on. More on that soon.

Until then, let me start you with thi

0.Have you read the fiscal framework around tobacco in your country?

If not, stop this and go find it. It will most likely be a few scores of pages to be read pencil in hand. There is no way to sugarcoat it, the tobacco business is heavily regulated and there will be no escape from taxes. The entrance bar is usually high and that is a fact. It’s best you find that out head on and get ready for it.

Then we can plunge into the realm of the big questions.

1-4. What would you sell, to whom and how much? And how will that be done?

This set is like a wolf pack. They hunt and thrive together. Figure one out and you are on the way to figuring all of them.

So start with the first step: what is not already on the market that you could provide? This will pave the way for your answer on the “what.” Answer that and you are well on your way to define your niche, that place under the sun you could put together your dream product. More on that on a separate post – finding your niche is an extraordinarily important step you take towards building your tobacco business.

Let’s say you look around and see there is no good option for women 45+, urban and sophisticated, career oriented, into fine wine and fashion. You could come up with a blend for them. But that is not all. And park your branding thoughts for a while, exciting as they may be. There will be plenty of time for that later, after you have a selling scheme in place.

Do you know perhaps a store or a distributor that will carry your product? A venue to showcase your product or have it sampled? Events to attend? Bloggers whose voice could carry your message? Needless to say, there is no advertising in tobacco, so growth will be about one-to-one sampling and selling. Quite a bit of work, but ultimately it will be about making known a good, quality product you believe in and take joy in bringing into existence.

And once you have at least a good draft on these, let’s look at the final question

5.How much can you afford to lose?

It may have come out of nowhere, but after you figure out how much you can sell and hence make, you need to get ready for investing. And as the rule of thumb goes, we do not invest more than we can kiss good bye. And please factor in the patience of waiting for your client to test and make a switch to a new product. It’s like falling in love again and figuring out a new life together. It will take time. And that is time you may not necessarily make money in.

Which is why, instead of going through numbers hotheaded and red seeing, you should do it at the beginning. It’s like playing the markets – don’t gamble more than you can lose.

Running around in circles, mulling bits of replies will challenge you, but every moment of it will be worth it. Many people produce wine. Few make a fortune at it. They tend to be the persistent ones, who educated themselves and kept going one baby step at a time.

If any of these seem off-putting, they are the real preparation that puts you in the lead. You are a businessman or businesswoman who’s been through a lot, maybe in more complicated industries. Cutting up a dry plant, filling it into paper and adding a filter may not sound very complicated. But getting it right will need going through these questions. And it will be a thrill to create something you are proud of, something that is a joy to experience and share. Why not do really well while you do it?