Right now is the BEST time to start a business—and here’s how!
Ever dreamed of being an entrepreneur? Maybe earning some extra ‘passive’ income from an online digital business? What about traveling around the world, making money with just a laptop and a roller bag?
If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve probably got some new-found free time on your hands and might be going a little stir-crazy, sheltering in place with your family while juggling school, work, and your sanity. Enough with the fancy sourdough bread loaves and online cocktail parties. Maybe it's time to finally get busy and fulfill that lifelong dream of starting an online business.
What business should I start?
Recently, I’ve asked a few friends and colleagues—what’s the best online business to start these days? What do people really need and want, especially now? Safety Equipment? Masks, gloves and face protection? Disaster preparedness kits? Digital tools to help their kids learn while everyone is cooped up at home? These all seem kinda obvious right about now, but what about in six or months or a year from now? What needs will arise out of these two crises we’re dealing with—the health crisis and the economic one? No one knows for sure, but surely, change is coming and the world will be different in the post-pandemic environment. What matters the most is how we respond to this crisis and what you do right now.
“The whole future lies in uncertainty, live immediately.” Seneca
Four key ingredients for success
Like anything in life, starting your own business can be daunting. It But, just like learning to play tennis or switching careers mid-stream, it can be broken down into individual parts. Starting a real business that you can pour your heart and soul (and resources) into takes hard work, focus and commitment. There’s lots of ways to look at it but here are four key areas you’ll want to think through.
- Great Idea. What problem are you solving? What needs have you identified that you are uniquely qualified to address? Just like a comedian gathers material from everyday life, many times, the best ideas are lurking right under our noses. From a cure for cancer to the next pet rock, no idea is too great or too small, at least for the initial exploration. Throw things at your whiteboard and see what sticks.
- Strong team. Are you going this alone or do you need help to compliment (not complicate) your core strengths and skills by bringing in others to help bring your vision to life? Taking a realistic look at your background and mapping out all the areas you’ll need help can help you pick the right people at the right time to help you grow.
- Resources - Contrary to the popular notion that you must receive startup funding before you actually get started, many entrepreneurs bootstrap their early operations by doing everything themselves in order to get a basic product or service—a minimum viable product or MVP—as a demo or prototype to test market for initial feedback and then use that data to attract potential funding.
- Customers. As my father always said, ‘nothing happens in this world until someone sells something to someone.’ Now is a great time to let people know you’re in business. Ad spends are down across giant platforms like Google and Facebook, making it more affordable to introduce yourself to the world and build your brand online.
So Now What?
When is it time to launch and how do you know if your idea is good enough? Don’t worry, the market will definitely let you know. Remember, in the earliest days of your new venture, ask yourself—am I really helping people solve a real problem? How am I making their lives easier or more convenient? Am I on to something that people really want or am I just trying to make money? Good ideas are a dime a dozen. It's always about the execution. What will carry you through when the chips are down and sales are low and you’re wondering why you started this business in the first place. Having core values and a mission or sense of purpose are more than just marketing fodder—it's what carry’s successful entrepreneurs through the painful times and towards success.
- Have a Plan. you’ve heard it before, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and all great ideas start by writing them down. This doesn’t have to be on par with your Master’s thesis but you will want to gather your thoughts and create some sort of narrative structure. Even if it's just one page, you’ll want to clearly state your goals, what problems you’re solving, how you plan to get the word out and what your projected revenue and costs might be. (We’ll cover the specifics of planning a new business in another post.)
- Create an MVP - whether you're selling products or services, time is the enemy. How quickly can you get a version of your product to a point where you can share it with others for feedback and possible early sales.
- Measure your Progress - setting goals and then tracking your progress over time help you produce valuable metrics or KPI’s (key performance indicators). These key measurements will help you evaluate your performance and show potential investors that you can deliver what you say you will.
- Iterate - knowing how to adapt and when to pivot, especially as a start-up, is key. Maybe you were set on making your famous chocolate chip cookies but the market wants colorful macaroons? Being nimble and humble early on—listening to critical feedback from others—can provide huge savings later, especially on one's pocketbook and ego.
Start. Right. Now.
They say luck is where hard work and opportunity meet, and starting your own business is no different. Looking at today’s current problems and challenges as solutions and opportunities.
What kinds of new challenges, er, opportunities are you going to tackle during this unprecedented crisis? What are you passionate about? How can you leverage your previous work and life experiences into something that people need and want and are willing to pay for? Nothing is more important than getting started. Now.
Got any great ideas to share about starting a business? Drop us a line or comment below.