Have you ever avoided doing something because you didn’t know how to get started? It happens to me all the time. For example, I have a goal this year to get involved in some sort of industry organization, but I haven’t done anything yet because I don’t know where to start.
A few years ago I saw the need to bring Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) to the area I lived in Canada. I had been a huge Dave Ramsey fan for a long time, and he wasn’t well known in Canada. I thought about it for a long time but didn’t know where to start.
It only took a push from a friend and a small amount of research to get started. I found a sponsor, figured out how to order class materials, and did a small trial class with some close friends and family. With that momentum I recruited some volunteers to help, and we ended up taking about 150 families through the course in several sessions over two years.
Usually the hardest part of any endeavor is taking the first step, even if you don’t know where the next steps are going to lead you. As you start stepping, you gain momentum. With that momentum, future obstacles are easier to overcome than resistance to the first step.
In my last post, I asked if you are ready financial, emotionally, and mentally to start a business.
If you are ready, here is where to start:
1. Find a product to sell
2. Find customers to sell the product to
It’s as simple as that. Until you have a product and customers, nothing else matters. You don’t need to worry about bank accounts or bookkeeping or taxes or insurance or legal entities or other details that you might feel anxiety about.
Just get started by figuring out what you are going to sell and who you are going to sell to.
Find a product to sell
A product to sell can take many forms, and there are too many possibilities to list in this post.
If you’re not sure where to start, your product can simply be your time and expertise offered to multiple customers. Examples include bookkeeping, writing, graphic designing, lawn care, and even dog walking.
Selling your time and expertise is a good way to get started, but usually your impact (and therefore income) will be limited by the number of hours in your day. You might see an opportunity to package your expertise into some kind of digital or physical product. You might write an ebook or build an online course.
Find customers to sell to
It might seem logical to first figure out a product and then find customers to sell that product to. However, the reverse can also work.
Building an audience (or platform) is a way to find customers before having a specific product to sell. Through social media and blogging, you can position yourself as an expert in your field. As you generously give free and valuable content, you can build a loyal following.
Email subscribers to your blog are especially valuable. As you find your voice and build your following, you can ask your followers what they need help with. You can create products to meet their needs, and then you’ll have both a product and customers to sell to!
There are many resources to help you build your audience. Michael Hyatt is one of my favorite.
Then worry about the details
You can start thinking about the administrative details that go into running a business once you having paying customers.
This post is targeted to individuals with the entrepreneurial bug who want to strike out on their own. Not all businesses are this simple. Some companies raise investment capital, hire employees, and go through years of product development before taking their first customer payment.
However, the same principles apply. Every business needs to start with a solid product concept to sell and customers to sell to. Until then, nothing else matters.
Question: Business owners, how did you get started with your business?