Everyone has the same dream at some point in their lives – throwing off the shackles of the 9-5 job and start working for themselves.
But most of us fail to realise this dream, as the barriers to start your own business seem too daunting and the risks too high.
But what if there was a way to reduce the risk, while at the same time, give you the knowledge of how to create your own business? Well, read on.
I’m going to show you how to create a business easily by showing you how a friend of mine, Jon, started his.
I remember the weekend Jon was over at my place telling me about his idea – he wanted to start a lawn mowing service. Jon was sick of his new boss at work and the changes going on there, and so he wanted out.
I remember thinking at the time he wouldn’t commit to it, but Jon ended up proving me wrong – and in a big way!
Then, last week I caught up with Jon again and quizzed him about how he got started with his business. These are the steps he took, with some explanation from me.
Step One: Test it Out
Now, I don’t mind mowing my own lawn, but could I do it day in, day out? Well, the way Jon found out was by volunteering his services to some family and friends – even neighbours – by offering to mow their lawn for free.
After mowing about 4 or 5 lawns in a day, Jon realised that he loved working outdoors, and decided he could make a living out of it.
Take Away: Start doing whatever it is you want to do before starting a business around it. Try it on for size and see if it fits. It would be better to find out at the start whether you hate doing something, rather than finding out later after you have wasted a lot of time and energy.
Step Two: A Quick Plan
The next thing Jon did was to grab a pen and piece of paper and jot down some ideas about his business. He did this quickly and easily and without a fuss.
Take Away: Too many people plan things to death and never really start anything. Action always beats planning.
Some of the things Jon wrote down were:
What services will he offer?
Was it just going to be mowing lawns or would he offer trimming of edges and hedges, weeding, planting and landscaping as well?
Take Away: The best way to do this is to write down all your ideas, but then pick one or two and start with those. In Jon’s case, he started with lawn mowing and cutting edges.
How much will he charge?
Jon had no idea what he was going to charge for his services. He was smart enough to realise that he had to cover costs incurred, but beyond that, not a clue.
So he did some ringing around and web surfing to find out what the average cost to mow a lawn were. This gave him a ballpark figure to work with.
Take Away: Find maybe 4 or 5 prices and then average them to get an idea of what the market is charging currently.
Jon then added up what it would cost him to actually do the job, including petrol (for both the mower and his car for getting around), maintenance, any new equipment he needed and, of course, his time.
Take Away: This allows you to find out your base line – everything above this will be money in your pocket.
Also, make sure you keep in mind how long it will take you to mow one lawn. And how many hours you want to, or can work, in a day. Say, it takes you an hour to mow a lawn and you are willing to work for 6 hours per day, you could do 4-5 lawns per day (allowing time for travel, etc).
Jon knew that starting local was key. Not only did he know lots of people locally, he knew he would save money on travel, and be able to focus his advertising/marketing (see below).
Take Away: Start small and start local if that makes sense for your business.
Stage 3: Get Mowing!
The day after he came up with his idea, Jon started mowing lawns. He had no business name, no advertising, but he did have lawns to mow.
Take Away: This is the stage where most people fail – actually starting. They plan and plan and plan… and then don’t do anything.
Stage 4: Marketing 101
Jon is no marketing expert and so he asked my opinion on what to do. And he was smart enough to follow my advice.
The one thing Jon suggested was a local letterbox drop. This is a great idea! Jon’s wife created a simple pamphlet and he walked around to all the houses in his neighbourhood and place one in each letterbox.
Take Away: This sounds very old school, but for this type of business it will have a pretty good chance of succeeding. You need to work with what seems right for your type of business.
I told Jon that every business needs a website, and that his was no different.
Not knowing how himself, he ask me for help and I threw a quick one together for him using Blogger (owned by Google).
Take Away: Get a simple website. Blogger makes building a website super easy. Simply head on over to Blogger.com and start building! The one I build for Jon took all of about 20 minutes to accomplish.
Note: The site’s address will initially be yourname.blogger.com, but for around $10 you can have your own domain name: yoursite.com, hosted by blogger.
I am a big believer of the power of social media and, while Jon wasn’t at first, he eventually came around.
Take Away: Social media marketing is a must these days for most businesses. How better to spread the word and market locally than by word-of-mouth online? And that is exactly what social media is – word of mouth on a large scale.
There are a myriad of social networking sites out there these days but the two you will want to consider first are Facebook and Twitter as they are the two biggest.
Not sure what to write about? Don’t worry, neither was Jon at first.
Then I gave him a few ideas. He still doesn’t update very often himself, but luckily his wife does it for him.
Take Away: Once you have your online presence sorted, start promoting your business anyway you can. Tell friends about it. Tell grandma. Tell the world! Tell anyone you can – you will be amazed at how much people will mention you to others if you just tell them about what you are doing.
Stage 5: Getting Customers & Keeping Them
Jon started this even before he had his plan (remember those lawns he mowed for free? They were his first paying customers!)
This is the best stage as it’s the stage you start getting customers and getting paid. And this is where you want to shine.
You want to give the best, most amazing customer service on the planet.
This will get you talked about more and more and those happy customers will spread like an infection – but a good one.
So there you have it. How a friend of mine started his business for just $10, and how you can as well.
Sure, your business might not be a lawn mowing service but there are a million ideas out there just waiting for someone to explore.
Of course, once you get established you can start worrying about registering your business name and any other paperwork you need, but by then you will have a steady flow of customers and those worries will be good ones to have.
Do you have a business idea you want to explore?