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Have you ever thought about starting a business?
If you have thought about it, the “how” part can be overwhelming. Just how do you start a business?
A couple of weeks ago I went out to get my mail and found this in my mailbox:
I love everything about this. Everything. 🙂
This is from an 11-year-old young man in our neighborhood who apparently has decided to start a lawn service business.
I love how he included all of his contact information. I love how he indicated his availability start date. And laid out his pricing structure. I love how he is valuing his work by not undercharging for his services.
Mostly, I love the “homemadeness” of this flyer. He’s 11. He’s keeping his overhead and customer acquisition costs down by doing his own marketing in-house. 🙂
Have you heard the expression “Done is better than perfect?” It is a popular saying in the blogging and content creation community, as we can sometimes become paralyzed by trying to get everything perfect.
I struggle with this idea because I kind of feel like things can be done AND perfect. 🙂
I think what I really mean is that I want to be done and excellent. I am often torn between being confused by and filled with admiration for people I see putting stuff out there that is not even close to perfect. Or even excellent. But they are getting stuff DONE.
I recently saw a quote by Michael J. Fox that I can relate to:
But this young man’s flyer really impressed me. Is it perfect? No. Not at all. But it gets the job done. This young man wanted to start a business so he got out a pencil and a piece of paper and put himself out there.
So once you have decided what you want to do when starting a business, or anything, the thing to do is to START.
But start what, exactly?
Some people don’t want to have their own business. They like working for someone else, as part of an organization. And that’s great! It takes all kinds.
But no matter if you like working for someone else, or are thinking of starting your own business, it ideally should be doing something you are passionate about.
Although there has been some buyer’s remorse here and there, I think the Great Resignation that came with the pandemic has shown us that people have really been re-evaluating their lives.
A lot of people figured out that, hey, I hate this long commute. I don’t like wasting time at the office with meetings and chit-chat. I can get more done at home. I really like having more control over my time. I like working from home.
(Though I doubt after that online learning debacle that many teachers are thinking any of these things.) 🙂
No job or business (or anything) is ever perfect all the time. Early in my career, an older colleague told me that nothing was ever perfect but the part you don’t like about something should never exceed 20%. If you like 80% of what you do, then you have to determine if the 20% you don’t like is acceptable to you.
If the things you don’t like exceed 20%, or if that 20% is unacceptable, then you need to think about moving on.
If you do think of starting your own business, what is it you like to do? Is there something you could talk about all day long? What excites you? What do you want to contribute to the world?
Once you identify what that is, is there a need for what you want to do? The most successful businesses are those that recognize a need and provide a solution.
Next, you want to do some research. Is anyone else already doing what you want to do? What is your competition? Is there a niche you can fill with your idea? Why do you want to do this? What is your “why?”
What are the start-up costs for what you want to do? Do you need additional training or professional credentials?
If so, none of these things need to be something that stops you. You should always be willing to invest in yourself.
While some may disagree with me, I would not recommend just quitting your current job and starting something new. Use your spare time to lay the groundwork for a change.
Take online courses. Read up on your idea in the evenings. Do your research and figure out a timeline for when you could begin making a change. Talk to successful people.
And then do them all while working your current job. Only once you’ve got a clear path to replacing your current income can you be ready to jump.
But once you are ready, don’t be afraid to jump. Sometimes having no safety net is what is needed to keep us moving. Just make sure you have made responsible plans when you decide to make a change.
Once you have made the decision to start your own business, invest in good systems to help you run it. There is a saying, “Only do what only you can do.” Hire out the rest.
Don’t get bogged down in doing everything when that is not the best use of your time. The best use of your time is to do only the things that only you can do.
I’ll give you an example. I have been selling on Amazon for 8 years. I started my business for two reasons. One, my daughter would be graduating and going off to college and I wanted to have something meaningful to do. And two, I wanted to generate income to help pay for her college.
(My “why” has changed a bit over the years, as my daughter is now out of college. And that’s okay! You don’t need to keep the same “why.” But you do need to have one.)
Once my business took off, I would have and continue to have many sales in one day. We are required to prepare quarterly sales tax returns and provide sales numbers for the sales we make. Amazon has since begun collecting and remitting that sales tax on our behalf, but we still have to file the returns and report our sales.
From the moment I started, I invested in a monthly subscription with a company that would keep track of all that for me.
Some people really like keeping track of stuff like that on spreadsheets. Not me. NO WAY. I determined I would spend so much time doing that every day that it would keep me from more important tasks. Revenue-producing tasks. Like sourcing new inventory for my business. Without inventory, I have no sales to keep track of.
Am I the only one who can keep track of my sales by state? Absolutely not. So I hired that out. And I have never regretted it. I can file my quarterly sales tax returns by logging into my account with the service I hired and pulling up my information.
I also use software to keep track of all of my sales and expenses. Again, some love doing that by hand on spreadsheets. Me? Again, no way. I know the importance of it and know that I don’t like doing it. So I hired that out too.
It’s so important to put systems in place from the get-go with your business and to not be afraid to delegate some things to other professionals. I have never regretted spending the money to get help with my inventory management and sales tax record keeping.
An important thing to know about starting a business or doing anything is that the possibility exists that you will face obstacles and failures. The key to all of this is what you do with those obstacles and failures.
Try new things that you think will work. They might, or they might not. If they don’t, learn from them and do better next time. Fail up, as they say. 🙂
A failure does not have to be a loss if you learn from it and go on to do better things.
Another thing when starting something new is to not quit too soon. It takes time to do things that are worth doing. My husband will tell you that I proclaim every Christmas that I am quitting my Amazon business because it is just too difficult sometimes. And yet, here I am, still not quitting. 🙂
But, I am always re-evaluating and looking for ways to make other aspects of my business more profitable, and if I reach the point where those things can rival my Amazon income, I will certainly make good on that yearly Christmas proclamation. 🙂
Sometimes it is appropriate to change directions in life. Just make sure it is well thought out, based on facts and/or data, and not an emotional decision. Emotions will fail you nearly every time.
So I titled this blog How to Start a Business (Or Anything). These steps are helpful when contemplating starting anything new:
- Think through what it is you want to do.
- Do your research.
- Determine your “why.”
- Invest in yourself. Get and take the help you need.
- Only do what only you can do. Hire experts to help with the rest.
- Expect setbacks and failures. Learn from them. Fail UP.
- Don’t give up easily.
- Just START.
I hope my young neighbor gets lots of calls for his business services. I hope he has to take on other 11-year-olds to help him. And I really hope if someone tries to underpay him in the future he’s able to say, “Please. I’ve been making $45 an hour since I was 11.” 🙂
But I admire his initiative to decide what he wants to do and then just starting.
I know this has been a broad overview of starting something new. But if you have specific questions, I’d love to help if I can. Just let me know!
And I’d love for you to follow me on Pinterest!