Tag Archives: small business

Where Do I Start?

“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!

Love ya,

Lecia

What Are You Worth?

What Are You Worth?

It can be a little scary to tell people you are starting a business.

It can be even scarier to try to sell your business to others. To offer your product or service with genuine enthusiasm about what it can do for your customers.

But the truth is, we are all selling, all the time. Let me give you an example. Not too long ago I saw the movie I Can Only Imagine. I loved this movie so much and was totally moved by it. So, what did I do? I told everyone about it! My parents and sister were coming over for dinner the next night, and I said, “Hey, while you’re here you have to watch this movie with me, it’s so good!” And I told other people as well. And the reason I watched the movie in the first place is because my sister-in-law saw it and put her own recommendation for it on social media.

So you see? We all sell stuff, every day. When we find something we really love or are excited about, like a great new restaurant in the neighborhood, or an awesome movie, we naturally want to share it. The reason we don’t think of this as selling is because it feels so natural. It’s not forced. And, because we don’t have a vested interest in whether our friends actually try the restaurant or buy the movie, we don’t feel self-serving about it. We just know we love it and we think other people should know about it, so we tell them.

This is the kind of excitement and natural desire to share that you have to have about your own business. But in order to get there, you have to be really clear about what kind of value you are offering. In other words, what problem are you solving?

For example, let’s say that I meet somebody new, and she asks me what I do. Now, I could say, “I’m a business coach,” and she would probably say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and that would be the end of our conversation. Or, I could say, “I coach women to start and run their own businesses so they can have more freedom of time and money.” Now, the woman I’m talking to might recognize those pain points. She might be someone who never has enough time with her family or never enough money to go around, and if so, she’ll want to continue the conversation with me. Nobody cares what I do. But a lot of them care about what I can do to help them.

So get really clear about what problem your business is solving.

Now, here’s a hard fact of life. Many of you have a hard time finding the value in what you have to offer or sell because you have a hard time finding the value in yourself. And because you and your business are so closely intertwined, the whole issue of value becomes this really emotional minefield. If you don’t recognize your own value, you’re not going to be able to speak the value that you offer in your business. You will shy away from it or downplay it, saying things like, “Oh, it’s just this little thing I’m doing, it’s nothing really.”  Except, nothing you do is nothing!

So, what are you worth? What is your value?

I’ll use the $20 bill analogy to help you understand. Imagine you have two $20 bills in your purse. One of them has been around a while, and it shows. It’s crumpled and dirty. It has some pen marks on it, and one of the corners is ripped. It has obviously been passed around, it’s been mistreated, and it looks to be in pretty bad shape. The other $20 bill is the opposite. It’s crisp and clean and looks brand new.

Now let me ask you: how much is that clean, crisp $20 bill worth? $20, right? And how much is the dirty, crumpled $20 bill worth? It is also worth $20. You see, the worth of a $20 bill is constant, it doesn’t change depending on what the bill looks like or what it’s been through. It’s just $20.

And the same is true for you and me. Our worth, our value, is constant. That’s because our value does not come from what we look like, how much money we make, whether we have some dirt in our past, or anything else. Our value is based on the fact that we are.  That we are human beings, made and valued by the biggest power in the Universe. And that value is unchangeable.

So, if your business succeeds or fails on any given day; if your kids are doing great or basically flunking life; if you’re able or unable to lose the weight; if you’re weak or strong; if your website crashes in the middle of an important sale – none of that affects what you are worth. Your value is constant.

Valuing yourself is a significant part of being able to value your business. So start there. Remind yourself daily, “I am worthwhile,” or, “this setback (or mistake) does not affect my value.” Yes, it takes a little thought and maybe a little time to remind yourself of your own value, but you know what? You’re worth it.

Love ya,

Lecia

PS I’ve created a brand new FB community where all the business-minded mamas can find support and bounce ideas off each other. Come join us here and introduce yourself!