The average 9 to 5 guy often dreams of ways out of his dreaded job. Some dream of starting a business, like restaurant or retail shop, or another another endeavour. Others try their hand at consulting, or an online business. Either way, if the life of working for someone else is not for you and sometimes dream of being your own boss, read on.
With the way technology works now, more are looking at developing a product, and it’s never been easier. Terms like drop shipping can paint images of rags to riches stories for online entrepreneurs, and many of them are turning true.
“Everybody says they’re trying to get their piece of the pie. They don’t realize that the world is a kitchen – you can make your own pie.”
— Terry Crews
There are more wantrepreneurs ready to take the plunge or leap of faith than ever before. Why work for ‘the man’ while loathing each day when you can work for yourself and keep the rewards along with the sweat equity? If you think you’re a hustler then you should probably stop day dreaming and go get your nut.
Not every business has to be digital, and there are pros and cons to either, but online is definitely making it easier to get customers, track and grow a business.
Where to Start
Before you get your game on, you should probably test the waters with a side-hustle. This is a little side project, whatever it might be, just to see whether you’re able to make money. Don’t dive in without testing. Make it work on a small scale, and when you’re able to generate enough revenue where your job is almost in your way of making more money, then it’s time to seriously consider cutting the chord and making your side-hustle a full time effort.
A simple exercise for getting started is what some refer to as a SWOT, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This gets you thinking about things and all to consider. It’s also highly recommended that you develop a business plan and marketing strategy on paper. This too is a process to get you thinking about how you might handle the challenges of launching and managing a business, and what you might face.
If you want to follow your dreams of opening a restaurant, barber shop, landscaping or some other venture, it’s going to take some capital upfront to get started. You’ll need to sign a lease for your business, and have expenses like equipment, stock, bills and employees to consider. Before you do anything, you’ll want to come up with a plan, and that means putting it on paper. If you think that having it in your head will do the job, you’re mistaken. Failing to plan is like planning to fail. There’s an endless amount of good resources for small business entrepreneurs that can help with any questions, like the SBA or Score or Startup Grind to get started. Remember that your plan is not set in stone and that it can be changed as needed, or as you learn new things that could affect your strategy.
A few things to keep in mind before getting started. You want to think about how you will market your business, to get customers coming to you. Just opening the doors and hoping people will shuffle in is a slow death at best. You need to fish where the fish are, and get the word out to build awareness for your business. This can include advertising both online and offline, along with social media, and more. It’s critical to your success to understand and develop business marketing strategies to bring in those customers.
One of the best ways to grow your customers is through referrals, but the path to getting them starts with providing exceptional customer service experience. Make it so good that it’s hard to ignore you, and you’re half way there. But to leverage this opportunity you want to get those referrals, you need to ask customers for online reviews so that others can find you, and get the social proof they desire. Also, since most consumers turn to search engines for local products, services and businesses, it’s online reviews that are going to help build trust and influence people to choose your business over the competition. There’s all kinds of places to get reviews, from Yelp and TripAdvisor to Facebook and more, but the place to start is GMB.
You can also try your hand at advertising, with popular platforms like Adwords and Facebook to create awareness, but you need to educate yourself before starting as you can quickly lose money without creating any results. A few terms to keep in mind would include your cost per lead and cost per acquisition. If it costs you two dollars a click, and you only make a sale after 40 clicks, the cost to acquire that customer was eighty dollars. But with local businesses, unlike digital ones, your ability to track is much more difficult for determine a cost per acquisition as the customer moves from online to offline. One way is to offer a coupon or some form of incentive for the customer to claim, which gives you a way of gauging whether your advertising efforts are working.
Those that prefer to take the path of digital commerce or services have it a bit different. While you won’t require a physical location, you do need to determine how you will get those future customers to beat a path to your digital doorstep, or website.
There’s a number of opportunities, from affiliate marketing to drop shipping to developing your own product or service. But they all share that one trait with a local business, and that’s getting customers to you.
If you’re looking to sell a product, whether through drop shipping or having an idea manufactured, websites that could be beneficial include Alibaba, Oberlo, Shopify and many others. In addition to the up front costs for merchandise, there’s a number of tools that you should consider using which have recurring monthly costs as well, such as Intercom, Slack, Stripe, along with web hosting and other expenses. In most cases, it take money to make money, so the more you do your homework, the more likely it is that you’ll avoid surprises down the road. It would be impossible to name every potential tool to consider, there’s too many variables, but you can find a good list here to get you started.
Example of Hustle
Here’s a few stories on entrepreneurs that might interest. When it comes to good business advice, there’s never too much of a good thing.
- How a Former Corrections Officer Helps Others Launch Creative Businesses
- 5 Entrepreneurs Who Took Their Side Hustle Full-Time
- 60 Top Entrepreneurs Share Best Business Advice and Tips for Success
Unless you were born with a silver spoon and used to having everything handed to you, entrepreneurship is hard, and hope is not a method.
One of the best ways to get ahead is by educating yourself and developing your mindset. Not everyone has the time, patience or funds for going back to school to get a degree or MBA, but you can always find time to read.
The following are a few titles of books worth considering as part of your self-education plan to develop your business mindset and become an entrepreneur.
- The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
- Principles: Life and Work – Ray Dalio
- The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
- The Entrepreneur Mind – Kevin D. Johnson
- The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone
- Shoe Dog – Phil Knight
- Pre-Suasion – Robert Cialdini
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
- The Obstacle Is the Way – Ryan Holiday
- The Startup of You – Reid Hoffman
- Start with Why – Simon Sinek
- Tools of Titans – Timothy Ferriss
- The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
- Zero to One – Peter Thiel
- Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim / Renee Mauborgne
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
- Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh
- Good to Great – Jim Collins
- The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau
If you’re wondering where to start, here’s a bunch of side hustle ideas to help inspire you about the possibilities.
But entrepreneurship is not for everyone. As mentioned, it requires hustle, and you’ll probably work a lot more than 40 hours a week. It’s not for the lazy.
There’s lots of movies that have been known to inspire, and it’s no different for business and entrepreneurs. While we could suggest dozens, we’ll simplify it by giving you two that you should see.
These are Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room, and contain much of the things entrepreneurs require if they’re going to make it. Determination and hustle being at the top of the list, but a good idea never hurts as well. Will it be part of your legacy?