Have you wanted to go into business for yourself for a long time? The only thing holding some people back from taking control of their earning capacity is that they don’t know where to start. They’ve spent their professional lives only working for other people, and they lack the confidence they need to jump out there on their own.
Starting your own business isn’t that complicated, so long as you understand the core elements of entrepreneurship.
(1) A business is a system of trading value for money.
Value is subjective. You have to learn to look at things through other people’s eyes. What you value is not necessarily what they do (though it could be a useful starting place to build from).
(2) “Entrepreneurship” is just a fancy word for creating a new system of value exchange.
Working for someone else means you are just playing a role in their system. This isn’t a bad thing. You can learn important things, and make a good amount of money doing this. An entrepreneur is someone with the personality to take charge and create new things.
(3) The requirements for entrepreneurship are cleverness and boldness.
Cleverness is another way of saying you are both intelligent and creative. You have to be clever enough to put ideas together into new and interesting ways. You have to look for opportunities that others are ignoring. Boldness is where ideas are put into action. You have to be bold enough to risk failing. Even in failure you learn important things. Nothing is guaranteed. You could get very rich or go broke, but you can learn great things along the way.
(4) Nobody owes you anything. Go out there and earn it.
You have to stop being completely passive to what other people want, or responsive only to opportunities that fall right in your lap. Be proactive. Take the initiative to offer things without being asked. You need to adopt a mindset of helpfulness. Everyone who participates in an economy is exchanging money every single day. You just have to find some way to insert yourself into that flow and reap the rewards.
(5) Identify your core strengths and weaknesses right now.
No one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something. Be specific in what you can do for others, and what you are best suited to offer. You will never make money being an all-around nice, smart, talented, or passionate person. I learned to embrace my core strengths of critical analysis and communication. I make that a crucial part of everything I do, and it is obvious to everyone who works with me. I also consciously work to avoid situations where I would have to rely on my weaknesses, or I partner with other people who can do the things I can’t.
(6) You have to be able to convince others how good you and your ideas are.
Selling is the art of convincing someone to do something they would not have realized they actually wanted to do. It is not adversarial. If you trick someone into buying something from you, you are a conman, not an entrepreneur. Be honest with your prospects. If you have to lie, you are either in the wrong business or talking to the wrong people. Likewise, ignore your assumptions about why people will buy from you. Try to identify every individual’s desired respective goals by asking compelling questions. You help others make the right decisions for themselves until you step inside their shoes.
(7) Turn your broad ideas into bite-size, consumable packages.
Big principles are not useful for consumers looking to spend money. You have to be able to explain what you do, how you do it, who can use it, and what it does for them in a paragraph or less, or preferably even a single sentence. A successful brand usually consists of several related products and services which complement or improve upon each other. The worst thing you can do is get so caught up in all the possible applications of your ideas and skills that you never even get started with a real offer to the world.
(8) Know how to answer why someone should hire you or buy your products.
Generic answers are worthless. Get rid of all variations on “because it’s good”, “look at my portfolio”, “highly qualified”, or “exceptional service” answers. Say something other people cannot say, or have not thought to say. The key is to state unique or uncommon attributes. Give the people with the money something to identify you with, and something that seems particularly pertinent to their situation. The right answer to this question can close an enormous amount of deals right on the spot.
(9) Differentiate as quickly and radically as possible.
What makes your business unique will generally be a combination of four basic things:
- The specific problem you solve.
- The specific way you solve it.
- The specific kind of person you solve it for.
- Who the person solving it is.
The right combination of these four elements forms the basis of your company or personal narrative. It makes any offer many times more appealing.
(10) Pick a business idea that is in line with your core passions, values, and interests.
If you don’t know what these are, keep trying different things until you figure out what you like and what you don’t. Don’t make the same mistake so many other ostensibly successful entrepreneurs do and spend your life building a career out of something you don’t genuinely enjoy. We all need to get by in the meantime, but making enough cash to eat is not the same thing as building a radical new lifestyle. Find a way to relate your passion to a common problem you know a certain kind of person has.
(11) Develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) ASAP.
Having a product for sale is what officially makes a business. Your minimum viable product must be a complete transfer of value for a specific purpose. It cannot be only the setup for future value (though it should lead into other opportunities in time). A restaurant’s MVP is whatever the cheapest item on their menu is. For an information product, it would be learning a new concept. For a professional service, it is whatever the smallest indivisible unit of measurable progress might be (like a single piano lesson, a basic haircut, or a half-hour massage).
(12) Keep learning as you find higher levels of success.
You won’t know everything you need at the moment you start, but you have to start somewhere. You can only optimize what you do as you go along. Even when you get the basics of your industry down, other people will always know tricks you don’t. Critical feedback from knowledgeable sources is crucial. Join a mastermind. Read articles. Plead with successful entrepreneurs to rip your business apart the best ways they can. Learn from working with others who are good at what you aren’t, no matter how long your business has been around.
(13) Apply what you learn as soon as possible, even in insignificant ways.
Your brain is not an endless hard drive. You can’t download enormous amounts of information in one sitting. It learns and remembers by putting things into action as it goes. For some people, application is as simple as writing something new down. For others, it’s explaining how a new concept works to other people. Still others have to incorporate physical changes associated with the new information into their life. If you already have a business, a freelancing practice, or a job, implement new principles as soon as you can in whatever your role is. You will find new principles stacking atop one another more rapidly than you ever previously imagined. This is how mastery is attained.
If you arm yourself with these core principles, you will be more effective in whatever industry you decide to break ground in.
If you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you commented or shared it with someone else who might learn something valuable. If you want to learn more about me, check out some of the lessons from my book, or like Brand Identity Breakthrough on Facebook. You can even join the Brand Identity Breakthrough Facebook group, and connect with other entrepreneurs learning the essential skills of better communication in business.
Gregory V. Diehl
Author, Educator, and Coach