Make no mistake about it. Most people will get bruised by pursing tough business directions. It is the same with careers. Becoming an actor is much less certain than becoming an accountant! But, if you have deep passion, as was said in Fiddler on the Roof of the newly-married couple, “They’re so happy, they don’t realize how miserable they are!”
If you are not passionate, decide upon something else!
If you’re ready to start your own business, Mary Ellen Tribby gives the core ideas in her step-by-step guide.
Spend Most of Your Time on What You Know Best
You may be used to working as part of a team. Somebody does the graphics. Somebody writes promotional copy. Somebody else develops the marketing plan. But when you’re solo, you’re in charge of everything.
Some tasks you can just ditch. And some you can delegate. Establish your priorities. Should you spend time on the phone with your website hosting provider? No, you should delegate that. Should you spend time on content and offers geared toward your market, which you know better than anyone else? Yes.)
Make Technology Your Friend
You may be used to letting others handle the “tech” stuff in your workplace. But when you’re running your own business, you’re the tech guy. And, as MaryEllen discovered, it turns out much of it is pretty easy. For things you can’t figure out, take a class. If it’s really complicated, hire a freelancer.
You don’t have to know everything. But you need to know enough so you’re not at the mercy of your outsourced help. You don’t want to be overcharged or told something is impossible when they just don’t want to do it.
Don’t Ask for Favors, Ask for Advice
At meeting with the mega-successful entrepreneur Richard Branson, MaryEllen was invited to talk about her business. Instead of asking for help, she simply explained what her venture was about and asked for suggestions. Richard offered his support. And, already, his charitable organization, Virgin United, has been in touch with her.
You don’t have to know Richard Branson to take advantage of this approach. Just think about it. If you’re constantly asking people for favors… how long will they feel like granting them?
Create a Network You Can Brag About
Get the best people in your industry in your network. Not people you’ve only met once or see once a year. I’m talking about people you can call at any time. People who will do anything for you. (Of course, you have to be willing to do anything for them, too.)
When you’re starting out, you probably won’t be in touch with industry giants. But you can still make great contacts. Start with likeminded people who are as focused as you are on growing their businesses. As your businesses grow, you will be able to help each other.
Create Accountability Partners
You are 65 percent more likely to accomplish your goals if you have someone watching over your shoulder. As MaryEllen pointed out, it probably has a lot to do with not wanting to admit to not doing what you said you would do. That fear keeps you motivated.
So set up a time to speak with a colleague or business partner once a week. Talk to each other about what you’ve been doing with your businesses. Call them out if they’ve been slacking. Ask them to do the same for you.
Understand Your Market Intimately
One of the first things MaryEllen did was research her market and her competitors. Using keyword research tools from Google, she found that 43 million people a month search terms related to “working moms.” She visited every site in the organic results and pay-per-click ads.
She looked in depth at their site layouts, sales letters, offers, products, and marketing strategies. She figured out what other companies were doing right. And what they were doing wrong. (For example, many didn’t have sign-up boxes on their home pages to build their e-mail lists.)
Work on Your Business Every Day
You can’t just work on the weekends. You have to do something every single day to advance your business. If it’s important to you, you’ll do it. Get up extra early if you have to.
If you want to sell supplements online, for example, you could start researching which products are hot right now. You could contact some suppliers. Buy a domain name. Build your website.
Learn, Understand, and Strive to Master Direct-Response Marketing
Direct marketing is the key to online success. An e-commerce site like Amazon may work. But you’re not Amazon. You can’t wait for customers to find your site. You must reach out to them, get their contact information, and start building relationships that lead to sales.
Don’t Fall Victim to the Biggest Entrepreneurial Curse
Four projects halfway done yields ZERO revenue. One project 100 percent finished brings cash in the door.
Focus on one thing at a time — the one most important thing — and complete it before you start another project.
Ready, Fire, Aim
You have an idea for a business — and six to nine months later, you’re still working on getting your site together. And you’re still working on your marketing copy. Know this: Everything doesn’t have to be perfect before you launch.
As MaryEllen pointed out, most of what you learn about business comes from doing it. You’ll find out what people will buy and for how much. You’ll discover the best way to reach your customers and build your list.
Turning Someday Into Payday
These days, MaryEllen is working toward her dream: to start her own online business aimed at working mothers. And she’ll help kids in need at the same time. Her venture will allow her to work from home, spend time with her family, and make enough money to live the lifestyle she wants to live.
After years of putting off her dream until “someday”… it’s finally happening.
What are you doing to make your “dream” business a reality?
Maybe you’re waiting ’til after the holidays… or for the kids to get a little older… or for that big project at work to be finished… or for the economy to pick up again.
If that’s the case, now’s the time for a little MaryEllen-style tough love: Those are just excuses. Sure, they are real obstacles — but they’re still excuses. And you can always find more of them if you want to.
Stop trying to come up with rationalizations for not taking action. The truth is, now is always the best time to start a business.
Step-By-Step Guide To Starting a Small Business
1. Are You the Entrepreneurial Type?
2. Small Business FAQ
4. Deciding What You Want To Do
5. Viability Of Your Idea
6. New Learning
7. Writing a Business Plan
8. Financing Your Business
9. Effective Partnering
10. Mentors and Resources
11. Business Structure
12. Licenses, Regulations and Permits
13. Small Business Insurance
14. Employment Issues
15. Hiring/Managing/Firing Employees
16. Accounting System/Internal Controls
17. Implement Your Marketing Plan/Selling Product
18. Creating Your Product
19. Refining Your Marketing Plan
20. Modifying Your Product, Creating New Products
21. Reevaluating Your Company
22. Growing Your Company
23. Contemplating Your Exit Strategy
24. Further Small Business Resources
Is your business idea viable?
Take a look to this checklist for every entrepreneur, the essential acid test to determine the viability of any new business you’re considering:
1. Inventory Cost Relative to Capital On-Hand, and Inventory Rotation
3. Start-Up and Promotional Expense Relative to Capital On-Hand:
4. Compatibility with Push Marketing and Customer Funnel Strategy:
6. Uniqueness of product
The, rate each category from 1 (low) to 4 (high).
* Between 19 and 24, there’s an excellent chance you could be the next entrepreneurial legend – a Richard Branson in the making!
* Between 13 and 18, look for new wrinkles that would allow you to assign a higher score in one or more of these categories.
* Between 4 and 12, your business idea needs intensive care. Either find ways to improve its score in EVERY category or simply walk away.
What would be the perfect business?
* Inventory cost is next to nothing …
* Instead of margins of 50% or less, keep between 90% and 100% of every revenue dollar earned …
* Instead of having to spend five or even six figures creating a huge website and catalog, the start-up expenses should be next to nothing …
* The new model might be 100% compatible with the push marketing/customer funnel model and also take advantage of search engine optimization to pull prospects and customers to the company.
* And have zero competitors and products that are absolutely unique – the only place in the world you can get them is from this company.
Does this business exist? This could be the Information Business like selling: E-books, courses, videos and maybe even live workshops to people who want to maintain, build and customize their own business.