I get emails from hundreds of entrepreneurs every week (most likely because I’ve included my email address on my columns and because one was titled, Why and How You Should Cold Email Everyone). That offers me the opportunity to speak to lots of entrepreneurs. I hear their requests, and learn what problems they need to overcome. Figuring out how to start is one of the biggest hurdles.
From an outsider looking in, it may seem daunting and impossible to start your own business. It’s not. Plenty of people with lesser skill sets, resources and time, from all walks of life and of all ages have gone to live the life they’ve always dreamed of by simply putting one foot in front of the other. Like anything, entrepreneurship can be a taught and learned skill.
Before we get into the list, I want to help you overcome a basic obstacle. You may not know what business to start. Here’s a cool idea that I’ve seen before: On your Facebook wall, ask the question, “If you could come to me for advice on one subject, what would it be?” Whatever topic has the most “advice” suggestions, start that type of business. People already see you as an expert on that topic, and it’s most likely something you’re passionate about.
Here are some ways you can finally quit and start that business you’ve always dreamed about:
1. Check Craigslist.
Oh, yes, the coveted Craigslist. Think about it, people go to Craigslist and make posts about different services/products they need. This is valuable data and information. It is actually how I started my digital marketing agency. I responded to a couple different website development posts and found my first couple of clients. You can do the same utilizing your skills to provide services and products.
2. Hire a designer and utilize the Invision app.
This point is specifically addressing web- or mobile-based businesses. You don’t have a product, but have an idea. That’s alright, and a good start. Now, you should create a demo. The next best thing is a demo that shows exactly how your website/mobile app will look and function. This will be helpful with potential users, clients, partners, investors or whomever you’re talking to about your business.
First, find a designer that can mock up the vision you have of your mobile or web application. Use reference sites to cut down on confusion, and get specific with details, as design is subjective (what you may think looks good, someone else may not, and vice versa). Then, take those mockups and add them to the Invision app. By creating hot spots in the files, you can make your boring static PSD files clickable, which gives them new life and the allure of a working/functioning product.
Did I mention Invision offers a free account? Awesome.
3. Take out Facebook ads.
I get this scenario all of the time. I have two ideas, but unsure which to pursue. Create two simple landing pages for each idea (just don’t get stuck on the landing page creation — do something quick and easy). Include a basic email capture form on both landing pages. Then, create two separate Facebook ads promoting each idea. Whichever gets you more emails, start that business, and use that list as your first set of users, clients or customers.
4. Build a site with Striking.ly.
Forget about learning WordPress, and definitely don’t use GoDaddy. Striking.ly helps you create attractive websites with a very simple visual composer. You can literally drag and drop, and have a professional-looking site up in minutes. Use that website to help you gain instant credibility through a web presence.
5. Sell to your friends and family.
The reality is that your friends and family are your low hanging fruit for any business you start. If you’re looking for clients, users, whatever, friends and family can be that first early adopter base you need to get going.
6. Build an audience with Instagram and a website.
I test ideas all of the time using Instagram and WordPress websites that I build. I figure out a specific niche I want to test. For instance, currently, I’m building websites for CrossFit athletes. Then, I figure out who the top influencers are and use Crowdfire to follow their followers, and start communicating with them via Instagram, while making posts and using the right hashtags to gain more attention.
My website is in my profile name, and I generate tons of traffic this way. You can see this at work on the Brand_Athletes Instagram account and the website I created (and didn’t even finish to start quickly testing the idea). I already have a ton of people that have signed up and are in the process of building websites for. This can be done in any industry, with any business.
7. Get a part-time job.
I know that some people disagree with this point. Some people will say focus on your project full time. That’s not realistic. You most likely have bills. Keep it real. Get your expenses down as low as possible, figure out your monthly burn, get a part-time job anywhere that helps alleviate the financial pressures and start designing your new life.
I love startups, and love building things. Through my different successes I’ve experienced how exhilarating it is to have masses of people using a product you’ve helped create. From my failures I have learned valuable and practical lessons that can be applied to current and future endeavors. I have not found a rush that compares to being an entrepreneur. It is fun, exciting, challenging and worth the risk and thrill in every sense.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a business — do it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t turn out the way you intended, and you learn something new.