How to start a business, or “how can I create my own future” is a question getting asked more and more as I see and read about disillusioned souls having the life sucked out of them in the corporate environment.
I also see worried middle agers who look to the future and see income drying up, living longer and having to make future pension income go further, if in fact you are lucky enough to have a pension in the first place.
I am also hearing it from people who are retiring but need or want to create another income stream and people being made redundant who are thinking “it’s now or never”
The work place is changing dramatically, companies downsizing, outsourcing, asking people to do more for less, offering less benefits and incentives, no wonder people are looking to bring that business idea they have been harbouring for ages to life.
Frankly, unless you are really very lucky with your job
So, is it as hard as it seems at first glance?
Could anyone find it easy to know how to start a business?
In simple terms, to be in business you need to have a product or service and sell it to people who want to buy in exchange for money
I look at it in a slightly different way to most people and encourage you to think
it just might be easier than you think rather than it is going to be harder than you assume.
There has never been a better time in history where you can literally start a business today.
Technology has really levelled the playing field for all, knowing how to start a business is available to all with an internet connection.
And don’t think just because you want a brick and mortar business or have in mind a physical product business this doesn’t apply to you because it does.
Start the easy way and grow.
Many beginner entrepreneurs’ today start their venture selling their products or services using Social Media and/or a blog long before they shell out thousands for premises and staff.
It is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to test out your idea.
You don’t need a bakery to sell bread to begin with.
The building can come later but first you need to sell your bread and see how it makes you feel doing it.
Energised and excited you can keep going, miserable and the realisation it is more work than you can handle then you can about turn and go back to the bread board and rethink it.
If you have been searching for how to start a business advice, I can offer you my interpretation of how I think things can be done to get going simply and easily.
You don’t need to confuse yourself with business plans, finance or marketing just yet, you just need to find a customer, sell them your product or service, if they like it and you want to do it again, then you are in business.
It is then up to you how far you want to go and how hard you want to work.
To my mind, too much planning will frighten people to death and kill many a great business idea before it can start due to overwhelm on the starting block.
Begin slowly, work up and tattoo this on your forehead…
Pick the right business idea in line with who you are and how you want to do things and the rest will follow
So here is my easy guide on how to start a business and you can apply the principles to anything you want to start.
How to start a business tip 1.
You could turn your weekend hobby into your business?
What about retraining and upskilling for something entirely different from your day job?
How about turning that thing that everyone says you should into your new career?
Have you had a personal issue that others could learn from?
Are you drawn to any particular groups of people?
The simplest way to view this is to look for a problem in an area that interests you and your business will solve it.
How to start a business tip 2.
Will it be a product or service business or a combination of both?
Will it be online or offline or a combination of both?
Will you work Monday to Friday 9 to 5? Or never work a Monday again?
Will you have staff, create your own products or sell someone else’s.
It’s your life; you are not applying for a job, so you can actually get to decide what you want.
Whatever you decide make sure it fits in with who you are and how you want to live, for maximum success.
It might be you spot a gap in the market for a shoe mender in your village but if you hate people, don’t want to work 9 to 5 and on Saturdays and have a phobia about feet you are going to have a problem sustaining a business like that, even if the start goes well unless you get others to work in the business for you.
You shouldn’t put a round peg into a square hole unless you want a bad fit.
How to start a business tip 3.
Have you got some training already in what you want to do?
Or will you need to retrain or learn new skills?
What can you do that comes naturally to you, you are happy to do it and you can create a business from?
What do people comment on, come to you for, ask you for advice on, ask you to do for them, sometimes pay you for, tell you to start a business about?
What do you do all the time without thinking but love to do?
I promise you there is an answer in there for all of you but you must give yourself the time and space to locate it.
Everyone has a talent for something, without exception but I do caution only looking primarily at what you are good at.
On the other side of the equation there is something else to bear in mind.
We all have things we are good at, but it doesn’t mean we should be doing them, especially when you are looking at how to start a business in line with who you are and how you want to live your life.
Remember what I said about a round peg in a square hole?
I am good at making fudge but I don’t want to make a business out of that talent, I couldn’t sustain the interest long term.
Sometimes you need to look a bit deeper and a bit further than the obvious.
How to start a business tip 4.
I think too much glib credence is given to the word in matters of life purpose, business idea generation and personal development topics and it causes people stress because they don’t always have one and feel bad because they think they should find one somewhere and are sadly lacking if they cannot.
Passion can be but is not always the route to follow and here are 2 examples.
Passion Gone Wrong
I had a friend who was passionate about making cakes as a hobby and she was always sharing them with her work colleagues and friends and family.
Baking was relaxation for her.
They loved them, and she created them at every opportunity and people started asking if she would bake and they would buy.
Over time more and more people wanted to buy them, but she became less and less passionate about making them, she was stressed about it all, and the more stressed she was, the worse her cakes became.
She didn’t want to let people down but at the same time she was driving herself into the ground and the joy of baking was leaving her.
A long story short, her passion wasn’t about making the cakes, it was about people having a good time, seeing a smile on their face, celebration and having a great time.
So, she changed her business to a party planner and she gets others to make the cakes now.
Her essence was to make people happy and she was good at organising and she assumed because she was passionate about celebration cakes that was the route she should go.
When it became a chore, she changed tack, thought about it more deeply and came up with a more suitable way to use her talents.
Her new venture was more in line with who she was and how she wanted to live her life.
Only you will know which way to take it.
Passion Gone Right
I have another friend who makes cakes and she loves doing it.
She started small, made a couple for leaving do’s at work, the odd christening, and when she was asked to make a wedding cake she knew she was on to something.
The more she made, the more she loved it.
She started taking photographs of them, putting pictures on Facebook so people could like, share and comment and then she put a little business card with a link to her page in with each cake she made and word spread around the office and beyond.
Her friends told their friends and in the end, she developed her business into a full-time income.
She had the wonder of word of mouth marketing, which was all free and over time she could leave her job and concentrate on her business.
Because she started small her initial commitment in time and money was small and as she was asked to do more and more she knew in herself it was the right way to go because she couldn’t get enough of it.
How to start a business tip 5.
The main objective of business isn’t firstly to make money.
Although important of course, your main objective ought to be about service to others and your business should solve a problem
If you get these 2 things right then the money will come naturally.
I am going to use an example of someone I know and how they create one income stream, but they could create several more if they wanted.
They are mad about Dinky Toys and have an EBay shop.
They meet the criteria of service to others and solving the problem by being honest in their dealings with their customers.
They write very detailed descriptions of their toys, including everything anyone would need to know about it, warts and all.
They provide very clear large photographs from all angles so customers can see exactly what is on offer.
They provide excellent communication with their customers and are very personable.
They charge appropriately.
The upshot of this is they have wonderful feedback for their shop so people know they are purchasing from someone reputable and honest, and they nearly always sell for the asking price.
To develop this business, another 10 plus income streams off the top of my head could be incorporated if they wanted to do more than just sell on EBay.
The point is there are always ways you can do what you do, in a way that you want to do it.
And there will usually be an audience for it.
How can you offer something to others in a meaningful way that suits your personality and be paid what you are worth at the same time and experience soul comforting joy that comes with being true to yourself?
How to start a business tip 6.
So, you have decided about your lifestyle and what kind of business you want to run, you need to look for people who will buy your product or service.
Well, a bit like the animal kingdom you must go where the water is.
Look for the field where your people would congregate both online and offline.
You can look for obvious customers around you such as friends and family but you will probably find it will be hard to sustain a customer base around such a relatively small group and you won’t get proper unbiased feedback from here either so you can develop your offering and improve as you go.
Say you want to start a photography business you have always dreamed of and you know it is something you could do day in and day out for a living and not kill your love for it.
You could be a general photographer but if you narrow your vision and pick a specific group of people or niche, you can then go searching for where they are and begin with an already “interested in your topic” bunch of souls.
My case study about Saskia Nelson who chose the niche of dating photography sums this point up beautifully.
Instead of heading for weddings and family portraits she turned around a looked for another group of people to work with.
She found the area was less crowded and she staked her claim of being the dating photographer and now others are following in her footsteps and “dating photography” is now a thing.
You could also have chosen pets, or food or travel and if you think really hard there are lots of options how to start a business in the photography field.
Go to where they congregate.
Look online, in published books, magazine, follow them on social media and look for associations.
If you want to manufacture animal shaped furniture for children, go to stores who could buy from you or find parents and sell to them directly.
You just need to give some thought to “who wants what I have?”
How to start a business tip 7.
If you are in a day job, my best advice would be to start on the side with evening and weekends so you get the opportunity to test drive your idea.
I wouldn’t advocate giving up paid work and jumping right in without a safety net unless of course you are in a financial position to do so and are happy to let go of some money and write it all off if things don’t work out.
The simple process is, find your tribe/group/customer base and put your offering in front of them and ask for some money.
Ask for constructive feedback, tweak as you go if you need to but keep going.
If you are on to the right thing you will know, you will feel good about it.
If you have gone down the wrong road, you will know because you don’t feel good about it.
Your gut never lies, but don’t mistake a few nerves about starting out as having made the wrong choice.
Give yourself a bit of time and you should be able to tell the difference after a few test runs.
How to start a business tip 8.
A simple quote I think illustrates this point beautifully
In other words don’t ask business advice from people who have never had a business.
You are in the early and delicate stages and you don’t want your confidence knocked by people who however well-meaning are usually projecting their own fears onto you rather than actually offering you any useful advice at all about how to start a business.
Be careful who you share your dreams with as well; you might find your best friend is actually jealous of what you are doing and may secretly want to sabotage your efforts, by offering advice that is negative.
You have probably also heard stories of people trying to lose weight but can’t.
The reason is they are constantly being fed by their partner who secretly is threatened by the change.
You are a pioneer so be prepared for some changes in your life you may not be expecting.
It can come as a shock.
How to start a business tip 9.
I am not an advocate of business plans that are pages and pages long.
However I am an advocate of the back of a cigarette packet or on a beer mat one so you can clarify your thoughts and just get to the nub of what it is you want to do.
If you feel the same, then I urge you to read about the modern day business plan known as a business model canvas.
Essentially like the beer mat idea but with slightly more detail.
I think you will like it.
See what you think?
Remember what the author Andre Gide said
If you have that desire to want to know how to start a business then go for it.
In a years’ time you will look back and wish you had started today
Take small steps and build upon each experience as you go and keep learning.
Most of all enjoy the ride because most people never get on the track.
To your success