I want to start a business

I want to start a business but I am broke. Should I do it?

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It’s tough out there. Jobs are paying less than they used to, and there are less of them. Are you ready to do better?

I want to start a business, but I don’t have any money.

Should I start a business?

Take an honest assessment of your situation. What happened? How did you get to this point? Was the writing on the wall? Starting a business can be great fun, and I am a strong believer that everyone should try starting a business at least once. In life and in entrepreneurship, timing is important.

I am not going to lie to you. Being an entrepreneur is tough, so you have to prepare.

You might be wondering.

What’s the next step?

Do this.

Start blogging about it.

Hey, I don’t want to turn you into a blogger. But, wait I have a plan for you.

When you start writing about your intentions somehow they will become real.

Write down everything.

It is very important to set deadlines with dates.

I want to start a business, but I don’t know what to do.

Wantrepreneurs never take action. They are dreamers without results.

I want better for you.

Before you do anything, keep your day job. This is crucial. There is nothing worse than starting a business because you are desperate. If you have a job, stick with it for a while. If you don’t have a job, get one. Get to if you need to. When you are broke you do desperate things it won’t help you succeed as an entrepreneur. You need a cool head, so you can make the right decisions.

If you have a job and you can start your business on the side, you put less pressure on yourself. But, know who you are. Some people need the added pressure. If you are that person, it might help you to start a business without the safety of a job. Just be honest with yourself and understand the risks involved.

To get a realistic idea of how ready you are to start your business answer the following questions:

  • Is there a burning desire within you to start a business? This is perhaps the most important question of all. No matter how good of a business idea you have, starting and building your business will be hard. If you are going to succeed in business, you must have a strong inner drive to be an entrepreneur.
  • How long can you can you survive without income? If you don’t have any money saved, you should not even consider starting a business. It will cost more and take longer than you think for your business to turn a profit. At the very least you should have enough money saved to pay your bills for 6-12 months.
  • Does your spouse approve? If your significant is not on board, you will fight two battles. One at home and the other in your business. Business is hard enough. Don’t sacrifice your personal relationship for a business.
  • Do you have the skills necessary? Every business requires some specialized skills.  Learn as much about what skills it will take to run your business.

So, as I was saying:

Step 1 – Install WordPress and start blogging about your plans.

Make it public. Tell people about it.

Don’t keep your idea a secret. There are wantrepreneurs that won’t talk about their idea without making people sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). It is a silly idea.

Most businesses that succeed do so because of excellent execution. Ideas are cheap, yes even yours. What will help you succeed is how well you execute on your idea.

The more people know about what you are doing the harder it is to stop.

There are so many things that you can blog about when you start a business. Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Write about your products or services.
  • Talk about your customers. Who are they? What is important to them?
  • Share what makes you unique.
  • Review products.
  • Interview influencers, potential customers, team members.
  • Create videos about your business, products, team, projects, customers, etc.
  • Write about your expertise.
  • Talk about your competition.
  • How are you going to differentiate your business from the competition?

Here are the advantages of blogging about your business:

  • Blogging is inspiring.
  • Blog writing makes you think. It helps you be more systematic.
  • When you write about your business it is free PR.
  • It helps you build an audience. Your audience will become your customers and evangelists.
  • According to a HubSpot survey businesses that blog acquire more business.
  • Blogging fuels SEO. You will increase your search rankings.
  • Your blog can help you become a thought leader within your niche.
  • Blogging enables you to share your brand’s story.
  • Your blog posts are your long term marketing assets.
  • Your blog analytics give you insight into your audience.

I want to start a business. What’s the next step?

Step 2 – Set deadlines. They will help you take action.

Someday is not a deadline. “Soon” or “later” won’t work either.

Deadlines have dates.

Set dates to achieve certain milestones.

For example:

  • I will come up with a name for my business within 30-days.
  • I will pre-sell my product or service to at least 5 people/business within the next 60-days.
  • I will launch my website within 30-days.

To increase the chance to meet your deadlines break them into smaller chunks. For example, let’s look at the example of getting your website live in 30 days. Create a new design in two weeks. Once your design is created, populate your website with content within two weeks. As you break your goals into smaller pieces the more manageable they become.

If you fail to set deadlines, you will fail in business.

Step 3 – Ask yourself some very important questions:

  • What is your “why”? If you are serious about starting a business, you must be sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Can you define why you are starting a business? Your “why” is what will keep you going when it looks so appealing to give up. Your “why” is what gives you purpose. One more very important thing about your “why“. Your personal and business “why” must align. If you want a lifestyle where you can work fewer hours, you can’t be happy building a business that requires you to work 80-hour weeks for the next 5-years.
  • What are you passionate about? You have to enjoy the business you chose for yourself. Passion isn’t everything and it will not guarantee success, but it is a start.
  • What advice do people ask you? There is a good chance that your environment is already giving you clues about what business to start.
  • Are people paying for what you want to sell? No amount of enthusiasm will make up for a lack of paying customers.
  • Are there others selling the same or similar products/services? Don’t be scared of competition.
  • Who are your competitors, and how many of them are out there? Competition is good. It means that there is a market there, there is money to be made.
  • Who are your customers? Be specific here. Don’t just write, “my customers are women.” What age are they? Where do they live? What do they do? How much money do they make?
  • How many of them are out there? If you chose a market that is too small, your business might never make enough money to support you.

The key to the above questions is to be brutally honest about your answers. This is no time to fool yourself.

After an honest assessment, you might realize that the business idea you had in mind will not work. It is better to figure this out sooner rather than later. It is not the end of the world. You just have to keep thinking about the right business idea that will work for you.

Write about your questions and answers in your blog.

Don’t worry about people stealing your idea. Ideas are dime a dozen.

Execution is what makes a successful entrepreneur.

Step 4 – Identify what you are selling.

Let’s say you want to sell websites to small businesses.

That’s way too broad.

Narrow down your focus.

Here is an example:

I want to sell websites to attorneys in San Diego, CA, who specialize in divorce. This is a market you can go after. You don’t want to focus on a group too large such as all attorneys. It is too broad of a market.

After step 4, you are very close to being an entrepreneur. Most people never get to this point. We call them wantrepreneurs. If you are not a wantrepreneur, read on.

I want to start a business. I am not sure that my business idea will work.

Step 5 – Validate your idea.

Do people want what you sell?

Reach out to your customers. The best way is to send one-to-one emails and ask questions.

Here are some questions you should answer as you validate your business idea:

  • What problem(s) are you solving better than other available solutions?
  • Are others solving the same problems? How are they failing or succeeding? What can you learn from them?
  • Are there similar solutions on the market? How is your product better?
  • What are the benefits of your product? If you are unable to provide a detailed explanation, your idea is not yet ready.
  • Who are the competitors? If you don’t think that you have competition, you haven’t looked hard enough. How are you going to differentiate your business from the competition?
  • What have you learned from the SWOT analysis that you have created? Haven’t you done a SWOT yet? Here is a great book on the topic.
  • What is the size of the market? If you can’t define it in actual numbers, you haven’t done enough research.

Most of the above answers should come from your potential customers. If you try to answer them without external input, you will fail.

When you talk to customers don’t sell.

You are not ready.

Ask questions. Find out the challenges they face.

Listen.

Then, listen more.

Ask more questions.

Get permission to follow up.

Most people don’t follow up.

You will know if you are on the right track if you:

  • Presell several customers. There is no substitute for sales. The ultimate test is sales.
  • Are able to get people to help you improve your product.
  • Can find strategic partners to help you grow your business.
  • Are able to attract investors.

Step 6 – Sell like there is no tomorrow.

Are you a born salesperson?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be.

Selling is a skill anyone can learn.

Do you really have to?

Yes.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to learn how to sell.

It’s easier than you think.

You have started selling during the earlier steps. You are only continuing it now.

Present solutions to the same people you have talked to in step 5.

If you have listened carefully, you heard their pain points. Now, it’s your time to sell them your services.

There are only two options here.

1. You sell – You are my hero!

2. You fail to sell – I still like you for trying, but there is a problem. You either didn’t listen and failed to understand the needs of your customers or you are too expensive.

photo credit: Bad day

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.