Starting a business is a funny thing. You start out with one idea and before you know it…it’s blossomed into a multi-national $40 million company with 10,000 employees. You are making moves and raking in the dough.
A friend of a friend reached out to me recently for help on finding a location for her business. She has her Masters in Education and wants to start a childcare center in her community.
As we started talking I realized that she had a challenge that many start-up entrepreneurs face:
How do I find the location when I don’t have any money?
Happily there is a solution! But it requires some serious elbow grease and shift in mindset in order to make it happen.
You see the location is not really the problem. Sure, for many start-ups or entrepreneurs in the making it would beyond ideal to FINALLY have a place to hang your shingle.
One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make during their startup…..
Not assessing the skills they need to run a business.
- Yes, you need to figure if you’ll incorporate or not.
- Your office location is sorta important.
- And you’ll definitely need startup funds. (But has anyone heard of bootstrapping til you make it?)
But the bigger question is how well will you be able to run your business?
If you want to start a bakery, you need to know how to bake well. But honestly you need to know how to get people to pick your bake shop and keep them coming back for more goodies.
Or perhaps you learned some WordPress skills. Great! But does everyone in your network know that? And after you tapped out your 5 friends and family, how do you tell the world and get to YOUR ideal client? And what makes you different from others who have a list of clients 10 feet long?
So start first with assessing your skills. Don’t start with the business plan. Interview a few entrepreneurs/small business owners. Find three that you admire who are willing to tell you their story – their HONEST story – about how they built the business. And then compare what skills they have to the skills you have and will need to develop.
And don’t worry about finding the uber successful entrepreneur. Find three-five freelancers or micro-business owners to interview. Get them to tell you the story of how they started.
Sample questions like:
- Where did you get funding? Self? Family? Friends?
- How did you first start marketing your business?
- What was your first big sale? How did you get it?
- How did you learn about finances?
- How did you figure out how to set your sales #s, your expenses, etc?
- What would you do differently?
Grade yourself on a scale of #1-10 on the following subject areas:
Grade yourself honestly. No one is looking at the results!!! lol. What the number represents to you is where you’ll need to put in some work.
Don’t worry if it’s low in many or all categories. It just means that you need to listen to more stories from business owners about what they did and practice those lessons yourself. Attend courses and networking events that help entrepreneurs. Or speed up your learning and hire a coach to help you identify and resolve your trouble spots.
Let me know your “ahas” from the conversations! I’d love to hear what stands out for you below in the comments.
Not sure you can make money doing what you love?
You can! Even if you want to start a service based business.
First if you haven’t read Part 1 – check it out!
There is a way to combine your talents into a business model that pays. Check out the two tips below.
Is there something that you love to do? A talent you have? Something that you know you are good at?
I remember the first time that I “found” one of my talents. I had to teach a group of rowdy 6th graders in an afterschool program when the main instructor failed to show up. I didn’t have formal teacher training. There was no other teaching professional who could lend a hand. Heck, I didn’t even have a lesson plan.
So I brainstormed a game that would keep the kids busy for 20 min. During this time, I planned activities for the rest of the session. I didn’t care about formal instruction and pedagogy. I just something to keep the kids from killing each other and hopefully learn something fun in the process.
By the end of the class, one student told me it was the best class he ever had. Bananas. I was hooked. And sought out ways to leverage my talent.
Many years later, people tell me all the time – Malla I want to build a business using my talents. I get it. But it’s hard to figure out what to do when you are getting started.
What makes it difficult?
- Time – how do you find the time to do the research and get customers?
- Money – Sure you could work with 500 people on your first day if you had an advertising budget for 2 million
- Too few mentors – geeez this isn’t working but who can genuinely help me?
And the biggest one of all – The naysayers who doubt you can build a business using your talents.
So what do you do?
Check out my suggestions in my first post.
We are not going after perfection here. But you need a plan. So have fun with your strategy day first and then come back to Step #2 and #3.
You’d rather be DOING your business than:
- developing your marketing strategy;
- figuring out your target market, ideal client, most fantabolous client avatar
- coming up with ideas for how to spread the word about what you do or
- creating strategies why YOU are the business that people should remember.
You got started in business because you love to DO something. And you are probably pretty good at what you DO.
But somewhere along the way, you realized that people might need to know what you DO. Outside of the three people on your email list and your family. But you are realizing how HARD it is to both DO your business and tell people what you DO.
I am still searching for the balance between the two. But in the interim, let me give you some steps to get started and make it easier. Yes, this can really happen for you. So read below.
I was chatting with a client recently about new products that she wanted to launch. She was so pumped because she just knew the products could really help her customers. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I couldn’t help but get jazzed with her.
And then I started thinking. Is this really where she should spend her time to grow her business brand? How does she launch her business AND get her marketing off the ground? How does everything move from the idea stage into into cash flow?
Please be clear – I get really jazzed when I hear my clients talk about new business ideas and launches. I know it’s embedded in your life mission and purpose. And there is nothing I want more than to support that.
But my job is to listen carefully to what my clients are not saying and address areas that could turn up and create disasters with a launch – ie lost money, no money, bad positioning.
So we took a step back and I started asking her questions about the products. Like how she could spread the word via social media, her newsletter, in person events, etc.
And that started to get the real heart of the question:
Think you have what it takes to start a business? Of course you do. But you need to examine a lot more than just the traditional check lists for your business plan or your ability to display some highly hyped entrepreneurial characteristics.
For example, how is your health? Yup. Bet you didn’t think that one was so important so do an assessment of your fitness, daily eating habits and overall wellness.
Also how are your relationships? How is your personal life? And don’t be too quick to brush this off as this can be a key touch point to gauge your future success.
Don’t hold judgment on me that I was in the liquor store shopping. I live with a toddler at home. lol
Without batting an eye, the clerk came from behind the counter and shared with the customer that she would search the inventory and see if she had something that would suit her taste. She kept talking with the customer about the types of liquors she preferred, her favorite vodkas, the best mixed drink she had, the worst drinks she had tasted, who she was buying the vodka for, etc.
Not once did she ask the question I had on my tongue – PINK BUBBLEGUM VODKA? Are you kidding me?