The office is calling at 8am for the fourth time in as many days. You’re pretty sure you
put in for vacation, but no one seems to acknowledge that fact.
Watching the clock, you listen to another customer who is upset about policy decisions
that you can’t change, and had no part in making. Your boss looks over at you to wrap
up the conversation, it’s time for your once-a-year performance review. There’s been
talk of another round of layoffs…
Are these situations all too familiar? Have you heard one too many times, “Honey, you
were talking about work in your sleep…again”? Can you relate a little to much to some
of the scenes in the movie ‘Office Space’?
With the recession slowly subsiding, there is a lot of talk about high performers looking
to switch jobs, or even industries. What about a third option? Why not start your own
business? “But Kate, I don’t know where to start! Don’t I have to invent something, or
spend a ton of money to start up? Maybe I’ll just work for another few years…”
Here’s the down-and-dirty truth: you already have the skills you need to start your
own business. If you’re ready to dive into the entrepreneurship deep end, I’m here to
help you start a successful business. In fact, I’ll show you how I started my business,
with only $1000. This year, I’m on track to make three times what I made working for
Let’s start with the basics: first, find an idea. You don’t have to invent something,
just take a look at the skills that you already have. Are you wonderful with websites?
Spend all of your time using social media? Can you put together perfect PowerPoint
presentations? These are all skills that individuals and businesses will pay for. The key
is, you’ve got to offer your skill as a solution to your potential clients’ problems.
After you’ve decided on a skill to market, you need to set up an infrastructure for your
business. At minimum, you need to register with the state, and get a website. For most
people, setting up a sole-proprieter LLC is the best route (LegalZoom can help you
to decide), and you can get a custom-made website from providers on sites such as
Elance.com, odesk.com, or Craigslist. All of this should cost you no more than $500.
Right now, you have an idea, you know how to get a nice website, and how to become
legal in the eyes of the state. If you’re following the total cost, you’ve done it for less
than the cost of a new iPad. The next step is finding those first clients.
You’ve got to master the skill of thinking like your client, especially if you’re building an
online business. What do I mean by that? Find a niche.
At the most basic level, you can target prospective clients using geography,
demographic information, and price. However, the more information you include about
your ideal client, the better. What do they read? Where do they shop? What kind
of clothes do they wear? What do they like to do on the weekends? These are all
questions that you should ask yourself as you build a profile of your ideal client.
Not sold on the idea of a niche? I’ve mentored a number of entrepreneurs, and so
many initially think that it’s a great idea to go after as many people as possible. “But
Kate! Shouldn’t I market to everyone? I mean, everyone uses Google, and that’s a
billion dollar company!”
Google is doing well, but it started catering to a small niche of Stanford students who
wanted an easy way to find and local all of the information on the internet. Start small,
find a niche, and THEN worry about scaling up. More importantly, by targeting a niche,
you’ll be able to serve your clients better, and they’ll pay more for your services. Plus,
you’ll know exactly where to advertise, and it will be much more cost-effective to target
your ideal clients.
Finally, set your prices. Google whatever it is you’re offering–if it’s website design, how
much do website designers in your area charge? Start your price around midrange, and
then work hard to position yourself as a premium provider, so you can start charging
premium prices. Deliver early, stay under budget, and keep in constant contact with
your clients. Make sure they feel like they under-paid you for the quality you deliver.
You absolutely can start your own successful business. Keep us here at Curvy posted–
let’s start an entrepreneurial revolution this New Year!