Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest Post: Starting a Business on a Shoestring

My buddy Kurt over at Shoestring 101 has a lot to say about earning money and not working for anyone else. Global nomad that i am, it's right up my alley! Here's what he has to say. 

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 When it comes to self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship is vital.

Steering one's own financial destiny seems daunting at first. That is, until you approach it the same as learning a foreign language or raising a child... or everything else in life you've wanted to do "right."

You do it one Step at a time.

Start a Business Without Partners or Loans

When thinking of entrepreneurship, you might imagine mortgaging your future, getting a huge loan, and gambling the money on success of a little storefront.

You might envision working long hours for the privilege of being in business for yourself, often paying workers before yourself and having a terrible take home. The leftovers. Add one or more partners, enter a whole other slew of other difficulties..! Sharing the rewards equally, but not the workload... power struggles... the "blame game." But it doesn't have to be that way.

It's possible to take your business idea and move it as far as you would like, completely under your guidance. It's as easy as following these Steps:

Shoestring101: Step Your Way to Financial Freedom

Step ONE : Get Off Your Ass.

Whew. Okay, I said it. It's time to make a decision. Time to you-know- what or get off the pot. Once you begin moving, even if you are moving in the wrong direction, it's easier to steer! Make up your mind once and for all to do that idea.

And do it.

Step TWO: Find Out the W's.

That is, Who Wants What, Where they may be found, and hoW to communicate with them.
You only need two things in business for yourself:
  1. Access to a thing of value
  2. A way to communicate with people that value that thing.
...that's it!

Don't get hung up (at first) on how much you're earning. Focus instead on making connections. I did a little copywriting job for a fella on Fiverr. Made $4. Later he put me in touch with a friend that needed his whole site revamped. SCORE! Piles of cash from a contact that I got paid to make.

Step THREE: Learn to Create Value.

Say I give you $100 . You're so pleased and flattered by my gift that you give me $100. We have both given and both received, but NO VALUE has been created.

OTOH, say I have more coffee beans than I can grind and you have more chocolate than you can safely consume (is that really a thing? ;-) ) If I give you a pound of coffee and you give me a pound of chocolate, value has been created for both of us. All profit is based on making something of value to others, that costs you less to deliver than it costs you to make. Remember that value is created first in the the mind. Learn to write and speak persuasively about the value your product or service provides the end user.

Understanding this is the key to success. Learn to Create Value and you might as well be printing money. Just doing the first three Steps, we have a real live business in place.

Next we want to document everything that took us from no dollars to some dollars and lather, rinse, repeat... and make improvements along the way.

I've started over a dozen businesses in my lifetime, and look to start more. But NONE of them performed in the five-figure per month zone until I learned and took the next two Steps.

Step FOUR: Measure Everything You Do.

This is where the famed 80/20 rule comes into play. 80% of your result s are driven by 20% of your activities. Going to Fiverr again for an example: one of my five "gigs" produces more orders than the other four combined. Guess what I put most of my effort into promoting? 8-)

As your fledgling business grows you will find what is effective and w hat is not simply by measuring each activity. You'll weed out the products that don't sell, you'll stop doing the procedures that don't increase your bottom line.

Can you imagine if you simply STOPPED doing the 80% of things that are ineffective? Your schedule would be 1/5 of what it is now, and your income would barely be affected.
Then your schedule would be freed up to do MORE of the things that DO pay well. Multiplying your income by 2X, 3X, even 10X is not unreasonable.

Measure Everything You Do to get your product or service from raw materials to delivered with confidence, and don't forget to analyze what you've measured. Then make tweaks to accomplish more with less effort.

Step FIVE: Now Write Everything Down

Ready for an even bigger slice of freedom, plus a side of financial independence? Since you've been Measuring Everything You Do, you've identified every process that it takes for your small business venture to function. Say you put an old exercise bike on Craigslist and get $50 for it. That's a business transaction. But if you document all the steps that it takes to acquire a used bike... get it fixed up... list it with the most effective headline... in short, make a SYSTEM for the movement of bikes and money... that' s an actual business. Step THREE was where we learned to Create Value for others.

But Step FIVE is where we create value for ourselves. Because you can take your documented list of where to get things of value, and where to find folks that value those things, and the exact things to do to make that happen best... and hand that list OFF to an assistant or third party.

Making your per-hour income go through the ROOF because you are now GUIDING the process rather than personally doing every step. You can jump in, take the reins, make adjustments as necessary... .. or let 'er run on autopilot for as long as you like. Churning out dollahs whilst you sip Mai Tais on long trips with your loved ones.

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Thanks for joining Kurt and me for this romp through the Shoestring Steps. Tell me what ya think about this post on self-sufficiency and freedom through entrepreneurship. Want more? Let us know in the comments! 

And speaking of starting your own business from home, if you're in need of the graphic design services that come with starting an online business, check out Freelantz Designs out of Orange County, offering a monthly payment plan for single parents who need a little extra help paying for the expenses related to starting a killer business! 





1 comment:

Solongbills said...

Great post on starting a business on a shoestring. Great wisdom!