I had always wanted to but never wanted to take the chance. I was burned out and tired of the cubicle. Tired of pounding the phones. Sick of the rat race to a certain degree. But still I had a wife and two kids to think about at the time and thought I couldn’t chance it.
These are the first line of excuses you run into when you start thinking about starting out on your own. Then the second round starts with “what do I know enough about to turn into a business?” “There isn’t anything I like to do that could be profitable” or “I’m not a business person. I haven’t taken the classes, I don’t know the laws.”
Next will be the third round or excuses which are “I don’t have any money” “I don’t know the right people” “I don’t have ENOUGH friends / contacts to do this”.
This is usually the first three phases almost all entrepreneurs go through. Fortunately for me I didn’t have time to think about it. I was going through a divorce and had just lost my job and had no prospects and knew I had to do SOMETHING to get money coming in. Here is what I did to get things going.
Step 1 – I wrote down everything I liked to do that I thought could be of service to others. I know marketing, I know Facebook & Twitter and other social media and most of my friends think of me as an early adopter so I could help businesses with social media and marketing, companies with technology buying decisions and analyst relations. I like dogs, so I could help with pet sitting. I like to draw and paint so doing nurseries or murals in homes could be fun.
Step 2 – I considered the investment. The first few were little to nothing to invest. The others I could try to skate by on the first few jobs and projects and then invest more as I went along and got more jobs.
Step 3 – I realized I could not do it alone. I got out during the day while the kids were at their mom’s or while they were at school and went to Chamber Meetings, called my church to see if they could recommend mentors, got involved with small business groups and generally made myself available.
Step 4 – Once I met people I asked almost immediately “what can I do to help YOU.” Most were impressed given my position I would reach out to help them first. This is always the best way to build your business. Reach out and help someone else first. If they can’t help you they will try like crazy to hook you up with someone they know who can.
Step 5 – Get to know people and ask lots of questions. If you are lucky you will find that one person who is willing to tell you everything. Permits, taxes, business licenses, where to file, how to file, costs for filing, what to watch out for, who to watch out for and more. This part should be treated like a game or scavenger hunt to find all of the missing pieces.
Step 6 – Once you have done this it is time to DO! Get the paperwork out of the way! This part is the worst. But you need to keep up with it.
Step 7 – Build your business. You have in mind what you are going to do by now, you have all the paperwork out of the way. Now it is time to build your business. Use tools like social media to announce your business to friends and get the word out. Continue to network and make yourself available to others and promote, promote, promote!
Step 8 – Keep people happy as much as possible. Not everyone will be completely satisfied all the time. Don’t take it personal. It’s like a bad date. Sometimes it’s not you….it’s them. But always correct mistakes and try to make things right if it is something that can be corrected.
Step 9 – Reinvest whenever you can. Take a portion of the profits and do something nice for top clients, or reinvest in a new laptop, backup drives, equipment, a new truck or car, anything to lower your taxes and build the business.
Step 10 – Once your current business is running well, look for other streams of income related to what you are doing. There is always something closely related enough that it could be brought into the fold of what you are currently doing and always look for opportunity!
These are some general guidelines and your experiences may vary. But the biggest step is leaving the shore and going on the adventure. It will never happen until you take the first step. If you want it bad enough you can do it.