If not, figure it out. Study your competition – especially other business owners doing exactly what you’re trying to do and are already successful. It does you no good to study your competition’s actions and copy them if you have no idea if they are making any money.
Even if you don’t exactly know what to do to be successful, you still need an action plan. What will you be doing every day and how will you stay focused if you don’t have a plan? If you need to experiment with different marketing strategies before deciding on those you will ultimately use, put together a plan for experimenting. What will you do? How and when will you do it? Be sure to include deadlines and measurable results.
It may appear that some people don’t work a lot of hours and make tons of money, but in truth, that is rare. Most of us do not start our businesses with big budgets for start-up or with a built-in customer base, so we will need to contribute sweat equity. This means hard work. If you are willing to study business in addition to being an expert in your industry, you have a shot. You will need to do things you find uncomfortable, like speaking in front of groups or incurring debt, to make it successful. Then you’ll have to keep doing it and be patient. Bottom line: you have to really, really want it.
Unless you have a huge marketing budget, you must have a clear, accessible target market. If you have defined your target as corporate people, this is too vague and too large, and how would you gain access? If your target is stay-at-home mothers, do they gather somewhere that you can access them, and can they afford your product? Ask the hard questions.
In other words, is your competition making a profit? Are you sure of that? Also consider, do you need to have any special contacts that you don’t currently have, and can you make that happen? If your product is so cutting edge that there really isn’t any competition, do you have the resources (time, people and financing) to introduce it and educate your target market about it?
Have you been dreaming about starting your own business? Are you dying to quit your job? Well, don’t quit your job just yet. You might be surprised at how important your miserable job is to the success of your new business.
This weekend I started reading Jon Acuff’s new book – Quitter. Boy, when reading this book, I felt like Jon and I were in a mind-meld. This is a great book for anyone thinking about starting a business.
I can hear you asking yourself, “Well, if this is such a great book for someone wanting a start a business, why are you telling me not to quit my job?” Simply put, a day job is a great asset for an aspiring entrepreneur.
Here are my 10 reasons not to quit your day job. The first three come from Jon’s book, and the rest build upon his ideas.
1. Freedom to Create the Perfect Business – Once you are dependent on the income from your business, you will have a ton of financial demands. If you are desperate for money during the building stage, chances are you will not be able to turn down work that does not fit your ideal business vision. Use the time at your day job to create the foundation for your business so that the business you create is the perfect one for you.
2. Stay Dangerous – Similar to reason one above, if you are not dependent on your day job for money, you can take bigger risks with your side business. Use this time to push yourself. Wonderful things happen when you can take risks.
3. Discipline and focus – This one is counter-intuitive, but Jon’s thoughts completely match my own experience. People who are busy are more disciplined and focused. And, building a business while working a day job certainly will keep you busy. Over the last four year, I have had to be laser focused in my free time to be able to build a business after working 60 hour weeks in my day job.
4. Practice Make Perfect – Most people who are just starting a business aren’t great right from the start. While you still have a day job, use this time to practice running your business.
5. Pay Off Debt – Debt is the enemy of new business owners. You can’t afford to be writing interest payment checks to banks while you are trying to grow your business. So while you still have a job, pay off your debt. This is where I am at in my journey to unemployment. I promised my wife that I would pay off my law school debt before going full time. So over the next two years, I have a plan in place to pay off this debt.
6. Build an Emergency Fund – The financial stresses on new business owners are enormous. Employees can count on steady pay checks, but most business owners experience slow times where cash flow is tight. While you still have your day job, build an emergency fund equal to 6 to 12 months of your expenses.
7. Education – There are a lot of things to learn before starting a business. While you have your job, learn as much as you can about business. Learn how to blog. Learn how to build an online community. Learn how to write great blog articles. Learn how to set up a blog. Learn how to get over creative blocks.
8. Improve your People Skills – Business is all about people skills. Use this time to improve your people skills. Learn how to be engaging. Learn how to treat your customers. Learn how to treat your employees. Learn how to network. Learn how to use social media.
9. Get to Know Yourself – Knowing who you are is vital to being a successful business owner. So get to know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What type of work do you love to do?
10. Grow Your Business – Last but not least, use the stability of your day job to grow your business. Until your business is up an running and growing nicely, there is no reason to quit your day job. While you will be busy, you can build your business in your off hours.
Are you building a business while still holding a day job? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.