“I really want to have a business, but I’m not sure how to start.” That’s the most common phrase I hear from women who are considering a home business. It’s a phrase loaded with confusion, overwhelm and paralysis.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Starting a business is actually a simple, 6-step process that anyone can follow:
1. Convince your mind that you can do it. That you’re gonna be a great business owner. That even though your brain says otherwise, you will be able to find the time and you can succeed at this. Because believe me, the minute you tell your brain that you’re serious about making a big change in your life, it will fight back and try to convince you not to do it. It will try to tell you that it’s better to stay in the comfortable little zone you’re in right now. To beat your brain at its own game, here’s what you need to do: write down all the objections your mind is giving you. Get them out of your mind and onto paper. Then write a counter-argument for each objection. For example, if you mind is telling you, “I can’t do this because I don’t have time,” write that down. Then counter that by also writing, “I don’t have muchtime, but I can find a little bit each day to work on my business.”
2. Evaluate your idea. You want to find out if your idea for a business will work before you invest time, energy and money into it. This means doing some research. Conduct surveys with your social media followers. Type a relevant hashtag into Instagram and see how many times it’s being used. Join Facebook groups in your niche and see what problems people are talking about. Will your product or service solve that problem? Check out Udemy.com and see if people are teaching courses about the problem you hope to solve, and how popular those courses are. Visit farmer’s markets or swap meets and give out samples of your product. All of these things will help you know if the market actually wants and needs what you plan to sell.
Need a little help with your market research? Click here to get a sample survey I made for you on surveymonkey.com using their Product Testing Template. SurveyMonkey.com let’s you make surveys of up to 10 questions for free, and will even post it to your Facebook account for you!
3. Niche down. Usually people either have a bunch of good ideas and they want to do them all, or they have sort of a vague idea for a business and need to get more specific. Either way, here’s what I want you to do: doodle every word or idea associated with your main business idea on a blank sheet of paper. Then group those into themes. For example, let’s say you’re a teacher. You plan to sell lesson plans of some kind. But if you just put yourself out there selling “online lesson plans for teachers” your business will die a quick death! You will be totally drowned out in the noise of the internet because there is nothing that sets you apart. And it’s pretty unclear who you’re serving. So you do this brainstorming activity, and you write down all the grades you’ve ever taught, and all the subjects. You jot down your favorite themes that you use each school year, words that remind you of some of the unique ways that you teach, things that other teachers ask you for help with, or that students really respond to. As you’re writing all this down, you see a theme emerge around reading. You’ve had a lot of experience teaching kids to read. And you start to think about the unique way that you have handled reluctant readers to motivate them to get more reading done and to enjoy it and get better at it. So you decide that lesson plans to motivate reluctant readers will be your business. Then, because you’re smart, you narrow it down even further and focus on reluctant male readers in 2nd– 4th grade. Now you have a niche!
4. Once you have your niche, you can identify your core customer and how you will serve her. Sticking with our example, there is more than one group of people looking to motivate reluctant male readers in 2nd– 4th grade to read. After some thought, you decide that you’re going to market these lesson plans to homeschooling parents. Not that others aren’t welcome to buy and use your stuff, but you’re going to focus on marketing to homeschooling parents. It’s this focus that allows you to move past the overwhelm you’re feeling and take action. It’s overwhelming to feel like you’re trying to serve a huge audience. It’s like being a waitress with way too many tables. You’re trying to please everyone and so you end up pleasing no one.
5. Once you have the basics of who you will be serving and how figured out, get your product or service ready to go. Find your suppliers, make your goods, create your courses, get your horse-boarding stalls cleaned out!
6. Finally, figure out where your core customer is hanging out and how you can get your message in front of her so she can buy from you. There’s no one size fits all answer here. The best way for you to connect with your customers might be a website, an Etsy store, through social media, with a booth at a farmer’s market or flea market, on craigslist or a neighborhood Facebook page, or somewhere else. Take some time to figure out where your core customer is hanging out. Are there conferences or pop-up shops where you could get a booth or teach a class? Are there influential bloggers in your niche who would give your product a review or even sell it as an affiliate? Be creative!
Once you’ve followed these six steps, you will have a functioning business!! Yes, it takes work and time, but if you follow this basic formula you can start a business, and I’m rooting for you all the way!