Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Business is really quite simple. At its essence, it is an exchange of goods or services for money (or other goods or services, only it’s called bartering then). Business can get quite complex, too. But if you try to start a business thinking about things like the IPO that’s five years down the road, you can paralyze yourself into just doing nothing.
Once you start your business, then you grow your business. Many times, we try to deal with the “growing” before we even start.
So, let’s think about the basic essence of business and how you can take these four simple steps to actually having your very own business.
What are you offering? Get really clear and precise about what you are offering to others. Business must fill a need (even if it is a want or a perceived need). So, write down what you have to offer. It can be goods that you make (needlework items, doggie treats, jewelry) or purchase for resale, or a service (cooking, personal training, tax preparation).
Who is your customer? Step two. Is there a market for your goods or services? There almost always is. Who are the people who would buy from you? It could be mothers who do not have time to cook, overweight teens, small business owners, and so on. Write down who could/would like your products or service. If you write down "everyone", scratch it out and get more specific. Picture exactly who would love, love, love your products or services and write about those people.
Spread the word. Once you are clear on what you want to do, and you have a good idea of who might want to purchase it from you, start talking to people. Make an item or create a basic service plan and start telling people. Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, your vet, your online friends—anyone and everyone. (This is marketing, by the way.) Show them your product or a picture of your product. Tell them its for sale. Ditto if you offer a service. “I’m an excellent cook and I’m available for personal chef services if you know anyone who would love to come home to fresh, great food.”
Find one customer. Just one customer makes your business a viable business. Success breeds success. So, do whatever you need to do to get that first customer. Discount your prices or do a freebie or complimentary session. Try to pick someone who talks a lot to do this for. You want your customers to be helping you sell your company! Tell them — “I’ll sell you this scarf for half-price if you’ll wear it and refer people who like it to me.”
And, there you have it. That’s starting a business. Once you get to this point, the rest really is easy, because it becomes necessary. What about accounting, taxes, checking accounts, marketing plans, licenses, business cards, logos, and on and on? Trust me, this stuff all falls into place once you know you can do the basics of business—trading your product or service for money. The rest is just details and backup, and growing the business you so easily started.
For more information on quickly starting your own business, I recommend:
Barbara Sher. She's one of my favorites. Barbara is like your own personal coach and cheerleader. Her simple but effective methods for achieving goals and dreams have helped me reach many goals.
And, here's a book by Rhonda Abrams that details a six-week start-up plan.
And, be sure to explore the articles here on the Small Office/Home Office site. I have many articles on different businesses, and how-to's on many business actions. Plus, there is a Forum where you can chat with other people, ask and answer questions and learn from each other.