Out of work?
Not sure if your job will be there tomorrow?
Wherever you find yourself, it’s hard to argue against making extra income with a side hustle.
Starting your own business can be intimidating, especially if you have never started one before, but it doesn’t have to be if you take small steps.
“Never tell yourself that you need to be the biggest brand in the whole world… Start by working on what you need at the present moment and then what you need to do tomorrow,” says Jas Bagniewski, the Co-Founder of Eve Sleep.
WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?
What do Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon all have in common? They all started in garages. Jeff Bezos didn’t even sell his first book for close to a year.
These companies that seem like overnight success stories didn’t start that way. At one point, all of these businesses were small, and guess what, none of their founders even had an MBA. If they can do it then so can you!
Let these examples serve as inspiration, but be careful not to compare yourself to them. It’s unfair to compare your fledgling side hustle to big companies at their pinnacle. All that will do is kill your momentum before you even get started.
BUSINESS PLANS, INVESTORS AND FUNDING, OH MY.
Hopefully, you are excited about the possibility of starting a business, but before we jump into drafting up the business plan and looking for investors, let’s take a breath and test out the idea to see if it’s viable.
1 – Find a problem you can solve today
Before you can focus on the money, you have to focus on the problem. What do people need? What problems do you have that others share? Do they have problems that you don’t? Do you have skills that can help solve these problems?
Why start with the problem first instead of finding ideas that make money? Because no one cares if you make money, they care about what you can do for them. If you have the money first attitude, then you won’t look at the problem objectively. Businesses that are focused on themselves instead of the customer often fail or fall out of favor.
That’s why it’s so important to start with finding a great problem at this early stage. The profit will come in time. Don’t let it cloud your vision and turn what could have been a fantastic company into a just-okay company.
There are also a lot of problems out there. Take your time thinking about what you want to solve. What we find urgent one day can seem inconsequential the next. Give yourself a few days, think about it in the shower, as your driving or just relaxing. You are going to want to give yourself a real chance to absorb it. Don’t just jump the gun on what seems most viable.
Whatever problem you settle on, your solution should also be one that you can implement today. Maybe you have an idea, but it requires more education. That’s fine, but you need to ask if years of college is necessary. Will it help solve the problem, or is it because you think people will take you more seriously?
We should always be learning, but don’t let it put your idea on hold. Find a way to implement it now. Partner with someone who already has the education you need or try implementing your concept on a smaller scale as you learn.
Ultimately you need to make sure your education is immediately actionable and doesn’t just become a fancy way of procrastinating.
2 – Get feedback from others
Your business may always be a side hustle, or you might stay a solopreneur, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need others to help along the way. Take time to encourage others and network with them as you work from home.
Share your solution with people you trust. That might be just one person, but hopefully, you can find several. You need to test the idea at this stage.
Make sure you ask the right questions. Has the problem already been solved? Does it need to be? Will anyone else care if it is? If so, is this the best solution?
Do your best to separate yourself from the idea. It might seem like the best idea in the world, but chances are there are some significant flaws that you missed. Expect criticism. Try not to be defensive even though you will want to be and make sure that you listen objectively.
You might not like what you hear. If you do, then consider that they may be trying to not hurt your feelings. In that case, seek additional feedback.
Whatever you hear, just don’t act on it immediately. Give it several days to seep in. Discuss their feedback with others. Pray on it, meditate on it, think about it in the shower. Let it seep in and consider if it’s valid or invalid.
What it all comes down to is that it isn’t important how much anyone likes or hates the idea, what’s important is that you find the best way to help others.
3 – Baby Steps to the Side Hustle
Now that you have feedback from those that you trust, you have a few options. Scrap the idea and start over with a new solution (possibly even a new problem) or tweak the plan and move forward.
You might have to have a few rounds of feedback and discussion before you can come to an idea that you feel has legs, and even then, you are going to make changes along the way.
No perfect company or idea ever comes out of someone fully formed. It takes hard work, help from others, and patience before it can become a diamond.
Take baby steps to make it a reality. If it’s a product, create a prototype. If it’s a service, find ways to provide it, even if it’s just a part of it.
In these initial stages, you might even have to give away your product or service, and that is perfectly normal. The people you serve are your testers. Learn if they find value in it. If they aren’t happy, find out why. What could be improved?
If they love it, then begin to collect reviews and testimonials as proof for future customers.
You aren’t going to become Apple tomorrow, and you might not make any profit for a while, but you’ll be taking steps toward an opportunity that could sustain you for the rest of your life.
And even if it doesn’t ever quite get there, the important thing is that you will be serving people and solving problems that make this world a better place. You never know who might be taking notice and it certainly won’t hurt when trying to stand out to future employers or find work in the gig economy.
4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
What areas of the business do you need help with, and who might have expertise in that area? Would they consider being advisers or mentors in a specific area? Would they be interested in a weekly or monthly phone call to get their feedback? Are they interested in helping in any other way besides advising?
Make sure these people align with your values, have a history of good decisions, and have an expertise that you don’t have. Make a list of the areas that you are the weakest with, social media, sales funnels, finances, whatever it may be, and write it down.
Look for people that might be a good fit to be your mentor in that area. Who do you know? Do your friends know anyone? Another good site to check is score.org. They have a ton of business professionals willing to help small business owners seeking advice in specific areas.
You don’t have to get investors or hire anyone yet, but you do need to find counsel. It’s imperative to make sure you make the best-informed decisions.
5 – Review, Improve, Review
After you have found your advisors, you will have a good feedback chain in place. Hopefully, with people who won’t be afraid to be honest. All of this is crucial to making sure you stay on course but also remain flexible enough to pivot if necessary.
Reach out to your council periodically (weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on their availability), review the actions you made and the actions you still need to take to reach your goals.
Take their advice into account when deciding if you have to make any tweaks to your business plan, goals, or list of tasks. It’s this process that will help you to see your business more clearly and make the best decisions possible.
If you find your self disagreeing with your advisors, don’t be too quick to drop them.
Get others’ input on the disagreements first. Are you looking to get rid of them because they’re hard on you? Or is it some other reason? You need to respect the time they put into this to help you. Don’t let disagreements allow you to overlook the importance of getting feedback.
If you both decide that it’s time to end the relationship, though, don’t leave it on a sour note. Take them out to lunch, buy them a gift, keep in touch, and show them that you are eternally grateful for their help.
In the end, make sure you always have advisors to help you. Sometimes as things start to move in the right direction, it can be easy to stop seeking advice and focus on other priorities too. That’s the time when entrepreneurs make their biggest mistakes.
IT’S TIME TO STEP OUT OF THE BOAT
Starting a business is scary. You might not make much money at first or it might take time away from your job search, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
I was in that boat years ago. I spent years trying to find a full-time job, going to interviews, working on resumes, and searching the internet. It wasn’t just daunting; it was soul-crushing.
It was only after my wife, Joy, convinced me to start a business that I learned that I didn’t have to depend on someone else to support my family.
You don’t need an MBA, and it doesn’t matter if you haven’t started a business before. If I can do it, then so can you.
As you work from home, block off some time each day, find problems that you can solve, and start solving them. Don’t rely on others to open doors for you. Create your own.
You never know what might rise out of the ashes of your unemployment or loss of your current business. It could just be the next Amazon.