“Fortune favors the bold!”
If you’ve never started a business, you’re likely still aware of just how difficult it is. We’ve been indoctrinated at this point with so much noise about the difficulties a startup can face – how the odds are stacked 9 to 1 against us – and how failure is actually the key to success.
While these and other facts spread across the Internet may well be true, there’s nothing saying you can’t find yourself as the head of a successful business next year around this time. After all, a sure thing is something everyone would line up for if it meant making a great living or becoming rich.
Here are 7 actionable tips you can use to start a profit-generating business in the coming year:
1. Recognize you don’t have to create a product
Is Walmart a product? No, in fact they don’t sell anything that’s unique to the market they serve; they’re a brand that sells other people’s stuff. They’ve developed a way to sell everyday products better by bringing most of our day-to-day shopping desires into one place – groceries, clothing, automotive care, electronics, appliances, cookware, linens, pet food, toys, etc.
The point is that you don’t have to start something from scratch, if ideas aren’t coming aren’t coming quick enough for you to start a business ASAP. Find a way to scratch an itch that’s already been scratched, but in a way that’s innovative compared to the competition. Remember, the Walmarts and Ubers of the world are just innovation-driven brands, not unique products.
2. The business has to start making money right away
You really don’t want to start a business that requires you to manufacture products that haven’t been sold yet, or offer any service that requires you to wait months at a time for payment. Businesses using such models take a long time to get off the ground and the tough times are usually tougher, putting more pressure to rush things out and sacrifice quantity over quality just to pay the rent.
Look for business ideas where you can build/buy physical products as they’re sold (ie., after a customer has paid), or offer services where it’s customary to demand full or partial upfront payment before a project is started – or at least those where customers are pre-authorized to make preset monthly payments you can count on for capital, such as SaaS products.
3. Start doing something today
Simple, yet effective advice for any aspiring entrepreneur. One poll after another over the last 15-ish years has shown that most people want to be entrepreneurs. This fact alone should inspire you to get cracking on whatever plan is frantically trying to escape from inside your head – take the first step today, such as buying the domain or starting the business plan.
Then continue on with the next step tomorrow. Don’t let excuses get in the way. There’s no time like the present!
“Fortune favors the strong!”
4. HIRE a cofounder
Two heads are better than one – but three could potentially create too big of a crowd to handle. If you want to get a business off the ground and running by this time next year, it’s important to start looking for a cofounder to help with all the logistics. Treat this all-important task like you would when hiring an employee.
Put your feelers out in your offline and online social circles, post your business idea, and that you’re seeking a partner who is driven to succeed as much as you. Next, spend a lot of time talking to prospects to get a feel for how compatible the two of you will be as business partners. There’s also online entrepreneurial communities you can tap into like the Startup Nation Forums and Entrepreneur Discussion Subreddits.
5. Find online/offline contractors to bridge talent gaps
Hiring someone in a part or full time capacity right now would be a mistake, in most cases. Employees bring a lot of baggage with them in the form of salary obligations, labor law restrictions, and so much more that can halt the business’s rise to the top of the heap.
Hire virtual assistants and local freelancers that can get the work you need done, done. Don’t start hiring people until it’s necessary, and you’re able to ensure people long term employment (ie., you’re in the black financially). This way, you’ll be able to drop those who can’t produce the results you need, and pivot to someone else quickly with fewer financial and time losses.
6. Start marketing yesterday
You don’t actually need a product to start marketing it. Say your dreams are simple and you want to start a small local cleaning business. Why lease a work van and go out and buy all the supplies before you land actual clients? Spend money where you need to when starting out (ie., marketing).
Register a business name, get the insurance you’ll need to operate in your area, fire up the website, place ads on Craigslist and Kijiji, take out ads in the local papers, and start going door to door trying to convince people your company is definitely the right one for the job. Perhaps you’ll learn you don’t have what it takes and will have saved yourself investing in a ton of overhead and debt (but let’s hope not!)
7. Don’t get drawn in by clients looking for the cheapest deal
If you start out this way, and the business survives the first two years, you’ll likely still be servicing all the cheapskates in your market at the end of that second year. Cheap people are less value-driven, will be loyal only as long as prices are rock bottom, and will only recommend you to their other cheapo friends and family.
There’s also a line of thinking that the cheapest clients will end up being your toughest, and will ultimately disrupt your efforts to grow with demands such refund requests for projects or products they are unhappy with, and requests for re-dos and replacements. In a social media-driven world, you’ll end up making too many concessions to these folks in order to avoid public backlash.
Are you inspired to start and grow your business this year?
Give it a year, then come back and tell us how you did. And, if not, what’s holding you back?
“Fortune favors the brave!”