When it comes to building our dream solo business, capital can be the one thing we can’t can’t always count on, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get started.
A friend recently told me the best part about having taken on some extra work at night was the way it was inspiring plans for her future business.
The two hours she spent on this project every week exposed her to an industry she’d always wanted to be part of. And while she couldn’t commit to spending more time on doing this project, and couldn’t afford to simply quit her day job and start her business idea, the investment in time was paying dividends for her future, because she was learning.
Research, learning and planning is absolutely key to the success of any business, Flying Solo founder Robert Gerrish told me recently.
“A good idea is not a viable business, it’s just a good idea. Most businesses fail because they haven’t been clear on their target market. No matter how good the product or service is in theory, they fall down when they haven’t spent time making sure there’s a market out there of potential customers who will actually buy it.”
With that in mind, Robert says there are six key things any budding soloist can start doing today, to set them on track for future business success, no matter how much money you’ve got in the bank.
1. Develop a pitch
Start by imagining you’re preparing to meet an investor (and in this case the investor happens to be you!) and slowly start putting together a pitch for your business. This takes the heat off you in terms of having to work out how you will afford to do everything, and will force you to get clear on the type of business you want to build and how to build it.
2. Make sure you can answer the following questions:
What’s the idea for your business? What challenges does the business address?
Why would anyone care that I start this business? Who does this business appeal to and what problem are you solving for them?
3. Talk to your prospective customer
This can’t be just family or friends because they will always tell you your business idea is great! Get specific about the market for your business, find ways to talk to those people and in doing so, find some proof that you’re selling they want to buy.
4. Acknowledge any gaps in your knowledge
If people were really honest with themselves they kind of know where their weaknesses are; we often don’t confront our weaknesses, because it’s a lot more fun to just to what we enjoy. My weakness was understanding finances, it never interested me and I would always push them away. Lucky my strength was marketing, so it made up for that. Start off by being clear about weaknesses and upskill.
5. Devote time every day for professional development (10 mins – 30 mins)
Listen to a business podcast, read a website, or visit a business just like the one you want to start and observe how things work. Whatever it is you choose to do to educate yourself, just make it consistent, just 10-30 minutes a day for learning will help.
6. Find a buddy
Once you’re clear on the gaps in your skills and knowledge, hunt around for someone who is good at those aspects of the business. Post a note on the Flying Solo forums, ask around at networking events; simply by saying something like “I’m a great marketer but really terrible with finances. Is there anyone here that’s really great with money and a terrible marketer” You will be surprised at how readily people are willing to share their expertise.