Starting a business can be daunting. All of the logistics that come into play (e.g. registering, taxes, needed capital, etc.) can be overwhelming. More importantly, the continual flow of income isn’t as consistent as if you were to work for someone else.
For these very reasons (and many more I haven’t mentioned), fear becomes the clear winner for many aspiring entrepreneurs to go out on their own. The fear of failure, the fear of having no financial stability or cushion, and the fear of not knowing what you’re doing are all legitimate feelings and thoughts to be addressed. But what if I told you that your chances of succeeding are higher than your chances of failing? I’m sure you’d go for it, right? Truth is, we all would.
In this blog post, I’m going to highlight how you can turn your side business into a full-time venture and provide additional tips to get you moving…
Failing to plan is planning to fail
What I see time and time again by people I meet that express their entrepreneurial aspirations is the fact that they don’t have a clear path to get there. They end up spewing out tons and tons of ideas that end up only being the good idea that never happened. However, know that not trying at all is worse than trying, failing and learning something valuable. Here are two simple steps you should implement:
- Map out a clear plan of what you need to do in the next thirty to sixty days in order to get things kicked off.
- Set SMART goals. Be concise and realistic on what you want to achieve. Here’s quick overview to help guide you:
Further, make sure you are asking the right questions, such as:
- Why am I starting a business?
- What kind of business do I want?
- Who is my ideal customer?
- What products or services will my business provide?
- Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
- What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
- Where will my business be located?
- How many employees will I need?
- How much money do I need to get started?
- Will I need to get a loan?
- How soon will it take before my products or services are available?
- How long do I have until I start making a profit?
- Who is my competition?
- How will I price my product compared to my competition?
- How will I set up the legal structure of my business?
- What taxes do I need to pay?
- What kind of insurance do I need?
- How will I manage my business?
- How will I advertise my business?
Spruce up your social media profiles
Update your social media profiles with relevant content to the industry/niche you want to be in. People buy from people, so put a face to your brand by building your own personal brand. Companies like Zappos, Moz, and TreeHouse do a great job of ensuring that the CEOs are present within their own marketing initiatives.
Push to build your social media following and engagement. Doing so represents a level of perceived creditability that will help you down the road, especially when you want to partner with other influencers and businesses.
Further, participating in conversations happening within LinkedIn Groups and other forums will help you be a part of the discussions your target customers are having – allowing you to position your expertise as well as building awareness for yourself. The key to success here is to not be salesy, but to focus on being an educator. Nothing turns people off more than the “car salesman” approach.
Create a website and start blogging
Register a unique domain. This could be your own name (dot) com or just a name that isn’t so prevalent, so that you can increase your chances of filling up the first few pages of search engines when someone searches for the name.
Your website should showcase your personality, your approach to your work, any past work accomplishments, your competencies and of course a blog! I don’t care what anyone says – content is absolutely king. Writing content for people to freely consume not only positions you as a thought leader, but gives people the opportunity to learn more about how you can help them without having to get you on the phone first.
Have a clear mission
People will see through you if all you’re trying to do is make and take money. Building a brand (be it personal or company) means that you have to be authentic. One of my favorite quotes by Simon Sinek is:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
For example, Tom Shoes shows that their purpose is to help improve lives by helping a person in need with every product purchased. The social responsibility of Tom Shoes evokes the “feel good” emotion and is also serving a cause larger than just profit. Another example is Starbucks, who has been around for more than four decades, pushing hard to operate in an ethical manner. The company looks for better ways to develop sustainable production of its coffee. It has set in place some guidelines it calls C.A.F.E Practices, ensuring environmental leadership, economic accountability and product quality. Starbucks also supports Ethos Water, which provides clean water to more than a billion people.
Just do it
The future isn’t promised. Live outside of your own thoughts and start taking the small steps to get going. Start small by doing some freelance work to better gauge the market demand for your product or services. The last thing you ever want to do is be a solution looking for a problem to solve. Rather, identify problems that you know you have a solution for and know the gaps that currently exist. This will help push you to narrow in on your niche, providing clarity with where you can make the biggest impact.
Once you begin generating income on the side, this is typically a good indication that the viability and scalability of your business can grow into something beyond just a side hustle. Push hard to match your current employment salary, and once you get there, you can make the prudent decision of going full-time with your own venture.