Starting a business is not easy, but too many people think it’s impossible. It’s not. What’s hard is growing your business when you start to get customers. Here’s a step by step guide on how to get started:
#1 What do I care about?
This step is important. Knowing what you care about is going to give you the stamina to keep going, even though thing will get hard as we go down the next steps. For instance, I care deeply about seeing other people start a tiny business in their spare time, so no matter what, I’ll always write about that. Even when I’m tired. Even when I’m hurt. Even when people really don’t want to do it. Because it matters personally to me when others succeed.
#2 What am I good at?
Here at Funadvice, we know for a fact that everyone is good at something. Good enough at something to make money from it. Everbody! Write down your skills on a piece of paper. No matter what. A young friend of mine that has not left high school says she loves giving advice. Now she does it on Quora and other advice sites. After years of being a computer programmer I realized that I love to design houses. Go on Funadvice and you’ll see many, thousands of people list the things that they do.
Even though someone says they “love watching TV” or “reading” It’s a skill that you can monetize later, because you could start a newsletter about your favorite TV shows or books. Newsletters make a lot of money these days.
#3 What problem are you solving?
This is crucial. If you find what you care about and are good at it - it does not necessarily mean many other people care about it enough to spend money doing it. For instance, you could care about whales and have spent a lot of time reading about them, but it’s gonna be hard to make money from doing that, since there are not that many people that would pay for something related to that.
However if you love watching TV, then writing a weekly “What to watch this weekend” newsletter would net you a lot of subscribers, because the number one complaint of everyone is not finding anything to watch.
#4 You don’t have to be unique
You may be thinking that there are many newsletters already like this, and there could be! But think of how many restaurants are in the city that are similar? Think of how many photography websites or social networks are out there. Most of them do well enough to hire staff, make their owners rich and change the world.
So don’t shoot youself in the foot by thinking “someone already took that idea”. If you did that “What to watch this weekend” newsletter, you could format it differently, put you own fun spin on what to watch, stick to unusual things to see, rather than popular superhero movies. The sky is the limit to make your own unique mark.
#5 Where would you get customers?
Look at places your customers frequent. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, your email address book. Start with your email address book. Over the years I’ve built up maybe 3000 people in mine. Send them an email, from you, inviting them to join your newsletter. Tell them why you started it and the story behind it.
Join groups on the various social networks and be useful, don’t spam. Answer questions instead so people get to know you.
Start a free blog - this will continue to be my most important piece of advice. Put content on the blog that is already published in the newsletter, or that you would publish, and on the blog ask people to signup. You can start a free blog on Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogspot or many other places.
#6 Design your process and pricing
Lets stick with the newsletter exanple above. Decide which day you want to publish, it will probably be on Friday afternoons, right when people are getting ready to settle into the weekend. Put this on you calendar. Know you have to collect the information through the week and assemble it into your list of things to watch. Set a publish deadline for Friday morning.
Now stick to this schedule, just like you stick to the schedule of your 9-5 job. Your boss set a schedule because she knows that only when there is a process, people will actually turn up and work. Why wouldn’t you want to do the same thing???
When your newsletter starts to get many subscribers, then you can start to think about sponsorship or carry advertising. Work out a price per 1000 people. Put a small notice at the bottom of your newsletter to contact you about sponsorship deals.
Create a document or web page with your circulation and what the price costs and a prominent way to contact you. Everything is a process. Now when someone asks about sponsorship, you can quickly email them the info you already assembled.
#7 Start small
I know a couple of people (who shall remain unnamed) that always want to start big. They can’t do a single thing, because they have to have an office first, a million dollars to hire staff and buy inventory. Or have to go back to college to learn some skill before they can begin. There always is something that they have to do first.
You have everything you need right now to start your small business. Start in your bedroom and your computer. Create the first newsletter. Design your product with a single great feature first (you can add more later). Get a single customer first, that’s your best validation.