Recently, I had a client message me on Facebook. She was overwhelmed and almost panicking with questions. “How do I start my business??” she said.
“So I need a website right? What do I call it? How do I get a domain name? Do I use a dot com or dot org or what? And I need a logo. And I don’t even know what to call my business. How do I even get customers anyway? And why would I invest in anything when I don’t even know how much I need to start or if I’m going to make any money??”
Many people who have these great intentions overwhelm themselves with the tasks it takes to get the idea off the ground into reality. Let’s face it. Starting a business does mean there are a ton of little details that are essential to success. But the details aren’t the truly important part of starting a business.
So how do I start my business?
The first step in starting a business is to brainstorm ideas. You can’t start a business until you know what you are going to do.
- What is your business going to sell?
- Who will buy it?
- And can you even offer that service or make that product?
You need to have a plan before you can open for business.
Trying to start a business without a plan is like trying to swim with all your clothes and shoes on. You might actually be able to float, but it’s going to take you way more effort to get there than if you had proper swimming clothes on instead.
And before you can make a plan, you have to have an idea.
Hanging an open sign in your window doesn’t mean you’ll make money. If a customer did chance to wander in, what in the world will you do with him? You don’t have a business unless you have some idea of what you’re going to do.
Get Ideas by Taking Inventory
Check out what you have to offer. Your skills, talents, hobbies, experience, knowledge and passion are what turn your desire for entrepreneurship into an actual money-making business. So inventory yourself. Get an idea of what you have before you figure out what you want to do with it.
Do you have a job?
The first area you need to look is your existing job or career. Even if you hate your job, there are skills, experience and connections that may serve you well in your transition to self-employment. So look at your job, and figure out what’s transferable.
Case Study: Jennifer
Jennifer has a job as a cashier with a local retail store. She’s worked retail her whole life, but dreams of a more flexible lifestyle, where she can work from home, and be with her kids more.
She loves the evening hours of her retail job, though her manager often frustrates her. She thrives with the interaction with her customers, and she has regulars that will wait in her checkout line instead of going to a shorter line. And her up-sells for the store are always in the top 3 for her store.
Jennifer has some amazing skills that transfer over to self-employment. She’s great with people! She is a natural sales-person. And she likes evening hours, which means that when she wants to work from home around her kids, she’ll probably be working at night and happy with it.
And, she already has a network of customers that like her, are loyal, and probably refer others to her. That’s something that’s invaluable.
So whatever service or product she decides to offer, whether her own or a direct sales company, she’ll probably make a profit.
Do you have a hobby?
What do you enjoy doing outside of your job? What do you spend money on so you can enjoy it? Have you practiced something just because you like it, and now you’re really good at it? Look at your hobbies. There might be something you can easily monetize there.
Case Study: Cathy
Cathy is a teacher during the day, but at night, she loves to bake. Her brownies are in high demand at school bake sales, and her cookie and square trays are emptied quickly at church potlucks. And her kids get amazingly detailed birthday cakes, that she gets many compliments on.
She enjoys her job, but she’s always dreamed of working for herself. But tutoring doesn’t pay as well as teaching.
Cathy’s hobby is her vehicle to entrepreneurship. Her cake decorating, cookies, brownies and other sweets are perfect treats to sell. And she could combine her teaching skills and experience, and offer baking or cooking classes!
Plus, since the fruits of her hobby are already prized, those same people may be willing to pay so they don’t have to wait to taste their favorite treat again.
Do you have a special life experience?
Look back over your life. You are unique, and you’ve made choices, had things happen, learned lessons, failed and succeeded in a way no one else has. You’ve come up with your own way of doing things, and that means you have something to offer!
Case Study: Laura
Laura is an older mom, looking for something to do now that her children are grown enough to not need her every second of the day. She’s got two boys in high school, and an older daughter away at university, so her time is increasingly her own. At church, she’s a kind of informal women’s mentor. She volunteers in the nursery, and often ends up helping overwhelmed new moms as much as she does playing with their babies.
Laura’s experience as an older mom makes her perfect for a business as a parenting blogger. She’s got life hacks, mom tricks and parenting tips from her years of raising three children to share with other moms.
She can use her life experiences as the well to draw on to create infoproducts, such as ebooks, ecourses and workbooks to help new moms adjust to parenting their own little ones. She may want to consider doing a podcast or YouTube channel as well.
Do you have specific knowledge?
Training, education or passion can make a great business, as well. Ask yourself what your background is. Did you go to school for a specific skillset? Or have you spent years researching something? Share your knowledge with others, and use that knowledge as your basis for a business.
Case Study: Jessica
Jessica is a stay-at-home mom with three little boys. She has always had an eye for fashion, and her boys are always impeccably dressed.
Jessica buys Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, just to keep up with the latest trends. She loves hitting up thrift stores and recreating designer outfits on a tight budget. Her knowledge of sales, styles and shades astounds her friends. And when they need a new dress, guess who they call for a shopping trip?
Jessica has knowledge that many people struggle with. She knows what it takes to look good, and she can do it affordably! Her knowledge of trends makes her an expert.
Whether she offers up tips on Instagram, or reviews the latest fashion trends on a blog, she can turn her knowledge of what looks good to good use. She could even offer personalized style consultations, in order to help others look good, affordably.
How do I start my business?
Before you get all worked up about names, websites, and marketing, take a step back. You need to get a clear idea of your what your business is, before you try branding it with an identity. Assess your skills and knowledge, look at your hobbies, and evaluate your job and life experience. Start your business with a great idea.