You Want to Start Your Own Business, But What?
|May 17, 2012||Posted by Louise under How To Start A Business|
Ask The Right Questions To Find Your Skills
So you’ve decided to start your own business online, jump off the 9 – 5 circus train and take your life, income, and career in your own hands. That’s great news. But if you’re like many, you may be wondering what kind of business and how to get started.
First of all, let me say that asking yourself “what business or work?” is a very important question that will set you on the road to success if answered correctly. Otherwise, you risk wasting a lot of time drifting from one business model or niche to another, looking for that right fit. Some don’t even make it past the first try, chalking-up the whole online thing as a sham.
Yes, there are many illegitimate online business and make money from home scams. But there are also tons that are legitimate. There really are people out there running successful businesses from home. Many are also running things via their smart devices from exotic locations around the world. And you can be too.
But before you start packing your bags, you have to determine the “What” for yourself first. Here are some questions to help you do just that.
1) Work For Someone Else or For Yourself?
Before you jump into an online business, take the time to explore if you really want to be your own boss. Is it possible you simply want the convenience of working from home without the responsibility of running your own business?
Working online for someone else: There’s online work that you do from the comfort of your own home, where a company hires you to accomplish specific tasks online like data entry or answering emails. This is a great choice for those who don’t want to maintain a website or handle any kind of sales, marketing, accounting or managing. You apply, you get hired, you fulfill the required tasks and you get paid.
Working for yourself: On the other hand, running an online business allows you more freedom and control over your life and career. You get to be creative and push your skills and talents to a whole new level in order to produce or promote a great product or service that generates great profits. The catch is it is definitely more demanding, at least at first.
You have to have online presence, which involves maintaining a website, marketing, sales, customer service, networking, accounting, etc. If you’ve never done this before, you’ll have lots to learn and handle. But as you go, you have the potential to systemize your business and outsource some of the tasks so you only have to be involved on a part-time basis.
So, first you have to decide if you want to work for someone else or for yourself?
If you’ve decided on working for someone else, I congratulate you on knowing so soon what you want and saving yourself some time. Plus, you can stop reading this article. Instead, visit my previous posts to get started on finding a job from home and more.
But if you desire to work for yourself, read on…
2) What Do I have To Offer That’s Marketable?
Chris Guillebeau, a very creative and successful entrepreneur who works as he travels, wrote a post recently titled The Lesson of Skill Transformation (also known as “you’re good at many things”) explaining that everyone has skills that can help create a business. The thing is, our marketable skills aren’t always obvious and we often need to examine and rework them into something viable for a successful business.
For example, I have a childhood friend who was passionate about electronics and technological gadgets. He had a carousel CD player back in the 80s (considered old technology now, but it was space age stuff back then). He’s always the guy who sets your electronics up and deejays at parties. Back in the 90s when PCs weren’t a household item yet, he helped me buy and install my first home computer.
In his work life, he managed restaurants and worked in food sales for years before training in the IT industry and gaining employment at both large companies and smaller start-ups. To make a long story short, he eventually launched his own company using his passion for gadgets and technology combined with his work experience to not only “hook-up” small to mid-size companies with computer systems, but also provide several online and technological solutions.
Here’s another example by Chris Guillebeau’s The Lesson of Skill Transformation that includes a great example of a shift from a regular job to self-employment:
In London, Kat Alder was a waitress with good communication skills—her customers were always complimenting her and giving her good tips. She was good at providing recommendations and gently upselling them in a way they were happy about. Then someone said, “You know, you’d be really good at P.R.”
Kat was originally from Germany and wasn’t even sure that P.R. stood for Public Relations. After she was let go from another temporary job at the BBC, she thought back on the conversation. She still didn’t know much about the P.R. industry, but she landed her first client within a month and figured it out. Four years later, her firm employs five people and operates in London, Berlin, New York, and China.
A third example: I have another friend who worked many years in sales for a large food company. He began to explore and experiment with ways to make money online part-time as he continued to work. It took him several years, but eventually, he launched and ran many sites with different business models in addition to helping other businesses online.
Due to his skills in marketing and sales, he wasn’t limited to one niche. He could tackle many at once. Eventually, he quit his day job and learned to systemize his business. Today, he often works from various sunny destinations in North America as he travels with his family.
Your turn to become an example. When starting to determine your marketable skills, don’t get hung-up on being an expert. You don’t have to be the best; you just have to be good (not an expert) at something that people want. And just like Kat Adler and my friends, there will be stuff you’ll have to learn. Don’t wait till you know it all before you start, because you’ll never know it all and you’ll never start!
To help you identify your “What”, reflect back on past projects (at home or work) and jobs. For projects, list what you did well. Think back to past employment and reflect on which functions of the job you not only enjoyed, but were good at. Add these to the list. Also look at what people praise you for in the past and now? Add these to the list.
Guillebeau suggests this:
…if you aren’t sure what skills you have that could be marketable, focus on the questions people ask you. Everyone’s an expert at something, and you may discover your specific skills by understanding what other people already see in you.
When you’re ready, move on to the third important question in determining your “What”.
3) How could this be applied to online markets?
For instance, if you are a sharp dresser and always complimented for your style, you could run a fashion site with an affiliate business model (read Vintage Dancer success story). Do you love social media like Facebook and Twitter? Maybe you can provide social media services for various online businesses. Check out this past post on wacky businesses for some inspiration.
Keep in mind that you must make your skills marketable, which means that it’s something someone wants enough to pay for it, whether it’s a service or an item.
But not to worry, my next post will show you ways to explore whether a topic is marketable or not. In the meantime you can read this previous post on finding a niche.
So what about you? Are you still looking for a business to start? What do you think of Guillebeau’s statement that everyone has marketable skills? Please leave a comment below.
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