There are so many tips and books written that help people find ways to create a successful and sustainable business. The following eleven steps will serve you well on your way to fulfilling your dreams to make a living at what you love!
Identify Your Product
1. Whether it’s a service or a whatsit, be clear and keep it focused.
Find Your Market
2. Identify Your Market. I also refer to this ‘your tribe’. Are YOU part of your tribe? If this is your first business it may help to be pedaling something that you would personally use and hopefully it’s a service or something that you need. You’ll have better ideas as to how to make it the most useful if you yourself are your first customer. Your passion for your product will be automatically present and quickly felt by your potential customers…your tribe.
3. Research Your Tribe. Learn everything you can about them. Learn about how to identify your tribe. A great book for this is called Tribes by Seth Godin. Create a survey and send it out to everyone you know. You can gather amazingly helpful information from people. Be open minded and able to listen to the feedback. And of course, make sure you target a wide range of people both in and out of your ‘tribe’.
You Are Not Alone
4. Create an Advisory Board. Reach out to various types of successful professionals who already know you and like you, people who would be willing to support you as you build your concept or business from scratch. You’re going to need a lot of favors, a lot of free advice and wise suggestions. Perhaps the first person on your advisory board should be an attorney. Think of all the aspects you’ll need such as legal, accounting, operations, technology etc. Also, having an advisory board shows prospective investors and customers you’re serious and have a good support team. You can also potentially tap into the networks of your advisory board for customers or financial backing.
5. Test Your Concept. Test the waters with at least 10 people, ideally people IN your tribe, but sometimes it’s informative to find a non-customer because they may think your idea is terrific but just not for them. If no one thinks it’s a cool idea then consider why that could be.
6. Be Willing To Adapt. Being able to change or to sway your idea depending on information and feedback you gather in this market research process is important. There’s a balance to sticking true to your original vision and allowing the marketplace to indicate what it’s needs are.
Take Your Time
7. Take Baby Steps! This is the biggest tip that I have received in my entrepreneurial adventures. This is arguably the toughest advice to heed but it’s SO worthwhile to take your time with decisions and plans. Again there’s a balance to be attained here but if you can sleep on a decision, whether it’s your company’s name, the logo design, what dot com you’ll register or what partner you bring on, take an overnight to let it ruminate and get referrals from friends. Speaking of partners…
8. Be Very Mindful Of Bringing On Equity Partners. Did you get that? Let me repeat it slowly: Be. Very. Mindful. Of. Bringing. On. Equity. Partners. Take your time. Get to know someone. Do major due diligence including deep background checks. A great place to check in with is RipOffReport.com. This also means spending time, lunches, dinners, meetings, good faith work, for at least nine months before you get married. Uh huh. I said ‘get married’ because that’s what bringing on a business partner is – your business husband or your wife. Extricating yourself from that person when things go South can be a debilitating, health threatening and extremely costly process. Do it carefully and if it all possible not at all. Do as much as you can yourself. Offering equity instead of pay isn’t a smart option if you can help it at all. You may have the brilliant idea to give someone equity in exchange for performing such consulting duties as legal, accounting, designing, strategic or capital finding. I beg you not to go down this road. Find the money to pay them for their services. Take longer building your business, but build a business that YOU own. Find an investor or someone to loan you money to pay for these initially required aspects to the business. Get a second or a third job to pay for it if you have to. If you get entangled with someone who proves to be less than worthy you are stuck with them forEVER. Unless you go through legal proceedings to nullify a contract with them. Remember, any legal activity to hold up a contract will cost you big time, so contracts aren’t absolute protection. Getting rid of a lousy 5% owning business consultant could EASILY cost you over $50,000 and take your emotional and business mojo down for six months or more.
9. Read, Read, Read And Learn, Learn, Learn. Here’s a great book: The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and a must read: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.
Find Your Passion
10. Pursue Your Passion. Try to find a business that you are so passionate about that you are kept up at night with excitement and ideas for it. When times get tough you will need the fuel that such passion energy happily provides.
11. Be grateful. Be generous. Meditate. And walk. Learning to meditate, walking, being grateful and generous is an excellent way to keep your stress in check and your positive force in top gear. Take a drive to the most beautiful neighborhood in your area and enjoy a good long walk. There are many places to learn to meditate. Find a Vedic Meditation teacher in your area. I learned from Will Dalton and Thom Knoles but you can learn from any meditation teacher who rings your bell!