Do you have a business in you fighting to get out?
“I think I have a business idea…now what?!”
I would say as many as 50% of people have a business inside of them. It’s a conservative estimate, and many of the other 50% are keeping quiet in case their idea sounds daft or because they simply can’t see how they would make it work so they don’t bother even mentioning it.
What about you? Would you think about working for yourself if you knew how to start? Or would there be something else holding you back?
Even within the small circle of my close friends there are a plethora of back room businesses just waiting to burst into life; beauty therapy, hair colouring training, batique training; user experience consultancy; trouble shooting and admin services; collectible restoration; outdoor adventure and camping experiences; roman blind making; anger management; dress making; horse trekking; map making; car parts sourcing; graphic design; web development….
I’m not saying that all of these business ideas are definite runners (though done right they could well be) but a fresh outlet for ideas can create the sort of empowerment and fulfilment that the day to day job (in too many cases) simply doesn’t deliver.
The yellow brick road – from interest to income
Trying to build your own job rather than look elsewhere for one can seem hugely daunting. The benefits tend to be worth it though if you are prepared to look into it more closely. Once the idea properly begins to take root it might be worth starting the wheels in motion with small but meaningful actions.
So how do we go about turning an idea from a fun hobby into something which will make a profit?
There are a myriad of techniques and approaches to try and marketing handbooks can bamboozle you with all sorts of advanced strategies. The simplest perspective can still generate some of the most profound answers.
“follow the Yellow Brick Road…”
Step 1. Find out what people want.
This might be very different from what you want to provide or what you think they need. They will only buy what they think they want, so that is what you have to sell. Interestingly, this is not necessarily what you will deliver. An example of this is with one of our information product businesses. Our customers want to buy a solution to cut corners and help them pass a specific selection test. We know there are no such short-cuts – if they want to succeed they have to improve their management style. The tests are designed to assess on merit alone. We sell a workbook to show people how to ‘pass’ the selection test. We deliver a tool to that offers shortcuts to improvements in management style. Both our customers and us want the same thing; a successful result on the selection tests and their much improved career prospects. We just have slightly different angles about the best route to get to there.
Ask potential customers what their biggest issues are. Ask them, if they could wave a magic wand what would be resolved for them. What would make their life easier? If you don’t have a list of potential customers (by offering a freebie on your website you can start gathering contact details of those interested in your service) you can have a look at what people are saying on relevant forums. Attend meetings or read magazines related to your topic. Ask friends or acquaintances.
Step 2. Plan an offer people will want to buy.
If you have done your research for step 1, it makes step 2 a lot easier. Develop an outline of a package, product or service that doesn’t require a degree to figure out what you are selling. It needs to ‘do what it says on the tin’ (a great marketing campaign!) and you need to spell it out. If you describe offering ‘consulting’ you are creating a level of confusion and uncertainty. Instead, you need to offer guidance to achieve a specific result on a very specific issue. Direct their attention to the benefits of what they are buying. For instance, if you are starting a beauty therapy business you don’t offer people the specifics of what they are buying, you invite them to invest in the beneficial results; you wouldn’t advertise leg waxing as a half hour treatment where all your leg hairs will be ripped out by the root using the medium of very hot wax. Instead you will focus on the end result, the silky smooth legs which will look and feel great plus with no need to maintain for several weeks.
Sketch out a few ideas for offers. Return to your research and refine your offer. Ask your test subjects for feedback. Is it what they are looking for? Would they pay for it? If it’s reasonably low cost to put together a prototype offer the service/ product free of charge to certain contacts get some feedback and case studies. Retain the parts of your offer your testers rave about, tweak the bits they don’t.
If it’s a special occasion, you would offer champagne
Step 3*. Let people know what you are offering.
It can be all too easy to hide behind crafting the perfect package instead of getting out there and letting people you are in the business of helping them. Of course it’s easier to stay put and focus on creating rather than delivering. But unless you let people know what you can do, you won’t get the opportunity to use it! It’s not always easy finding people you can help. It may be a laborious business getting your voice heard in a crowded market place but you need to start shouting. No one is going to come and find you hiding in a corner. You need to flaunt your wares and if you’ve got all the steps right the people who are looking for exactly what you are selling have the potential to become your customers.
Have a basic website or start to write a blog. Comment on related topics online with a link to your site so readers will come back to your site. Use your expertise to answer online questions others may have, or attend meetings or groups where people with similar interests or problems you can solve might hang out. Don’t try to sell, just get out there and get known for your area of expertise. The people you are building relationships with might not buy straight away (there are a few more steps before this might happen!) but they will start to see what you are about and you can build credibility.
(*Step 2 and 3 actions can happen concurrently!)
No risk strategy
If there is something you get a buzz out of doing and that other people need, think about whether you would benefit from connecting the two together. You don’t have to quit your job or plunge yourself into a spiral of debt. Do the things you need to make a start on steps 1-3 and do it in your free time. See where it takes you. It’s a really good start.
Putting in a few hours after ‘work’ can really make a difference
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