Business Launch Blueprint: Chapter 1

Published February 2, 2012 in Business Launch - 0 Comments

Chapter 1: Self Assessment

Knowing Your Situation

A. Examine your life.

Take stock of where you are in life. Part of this has to do with your age, which I’ll be discussing later, but what I’m asking you to focus on now is your responsibilities, both current and future.

B. Take inventory of your commitments.

1. Financial Commitments.

Are you behind on your bills?

Are you responsible to support others (spouse, children, parents)?

It may be that you need to adjust your time-frame, don’t abandon your business plans but maybe you’ll need to continue working your job for a while, or find a job so you’ll have some income to pay your bills.

Can you find a job that would further your business plans, for example work as an assistant with someone already in your field?

2. Time Commitments.

A new business will consume your time, at least in the launch stages.

Are you prepared to go the distance? Do your current responsibilities have any “wiggle” room in them in terms of how much time you need to give them?

For all the talk about the four hour work week –espoused by Tim Ferris in his book by the same name– when I look around at most business owners, online and offline, most of them appear to be working 10+ hour days, five or six days a week.

And while what you do is ultimately up to you, also consider that most businesses take more time than their owners initially thought they would.

That means a couple of things to me: first, if I’m going to have a different experience than the norm, I’m going to put some concerted effort into doing some things differently structurally than most: checklists and so forth and constantly be analyzing my businesses processes, and second, it’s going to behoove me to choose my business wisely.

It doesn’t have to be something I’m in love with, but it has to be something I can learn to love because I’ll likely be spending a great deal of time in it.

If you have children, consider getting them to work with you in your business. Up until very recently, this was how most children learned to work: either from their parents or by apprenticing to a professional chosen by their parents. We have gotten away from this model but I think it has much to commend it.

The family business model is an excellent one and if the particular business is chosen wisely, the children will receive experience in a variety of tasks. And this may take some of the sting out the time required to run the business.

C. Future Plans.

Of course, even if you don’t have big responsibilities right now, what is on the horizon for the near future? Will you be getting married? Having a child? Factor those realities into your plans as well.

We can’t plan for every single contingency, but by thinking about the big potential conflicts ahead of time, you will be less likely to give up when the inevitable problems arise.

Knowing Yourself

A. Your Age.

Are you 18, 48, or 68?

Youth has the advantage of more time available. You have more time to make mistakes and take it slow if you want to. I think many young people should consider the apprenticeship model, as I alluded to earlier. You can literally have someone pay you to learn by working as an assistant to someone else.

And today, you can even do this from anywhere, as a Virtual Assistant or VA. And you can be making connections all along the way.

Another benefit is that you will essentially be in business for yourself, so you can take many of the tax advantages available to business owners.

Of course, anyone can work as a VA so I didn’t mean to single out younger people, but I do want to impress upon you that you age should factor into your plans. Exactly how will depend upon you and your outlook.

B. Your Past Experiences.

Here is where the not-so-young have an advantage. We have simply lived longer and have seen and experienced more. Presumably we are wiser because of it.

Do you have some unique set of experiences in your background that can be capitalized on in the marketplace?

People tend to discount their own background, experiences, and skills. Not everyone has seen and experienced what you have. And that makes you unique.

C. Your Education.

Frankly, formal education is becoming less and less important in today’s economy, though it should be considered. Take stock of your formal education, informal education such as conferences and seminars, and self education.

D. Your Work History (if any).

It almost goes without saying that you should examine your own work history when assessing a business to start. Many of us have gained some unique set of skills in one or more jobs, and we tend to discount them.

“Everyone knows how to do what I can do”, we think. Well, the reality is just the opposite. There are many people right now who want to know what you know, and will pay to get that information.

People pay for all kinds of information, including specialized information that will save them time or just satisfy some need they have to learn more.

People pay for information about baseball cards, for information on bird watching, for all types of self improvement information and, of course, for business-related information.

E. Your Natural Strengths and Weaknesses

This one is a little harder for most people to discover on their own. What you may want to consider is asking several close friends to list four or five things you are really good at doing. And prepare one of your own too. When you have several lists completed, compare them and see what keeps appearing on most of the lists.

You want to capitalize on your strengths, and find ways to overcome your weaknesses. By overcome them, I mean that you should do whatever you can to make sure they don’t make for your undoing. For example, if you’re not a detail person, get someone else to do your accounting.

F. Consider Taking a Formal Test.

There are many books and tests available that will walk you through the process of understanding yourself, and I have been through many of them myself.

If I were to pick just one, I would say to take the KOLBE test. The KOLBE test was recommended to me by my mentor and I’m so glad that he did.

You can find it at KOLBE.com. The last time I checked, it was $50. I took it as did my wife, and there is a youth version that my older children took as well.

Phew!

This chapter is a little longer than most of the lessons will be, but it is a lot of foundational material that you should get out of the way early.

Business Launch Blueprint: Introduction

Published January 15, 2012 in Business Launch - 0 Comments

I wrote a training guide to starting your own business several years ago, and decided to publish the individual chapters here.

What follows is the introduction, and the chapters will be published individually in the future. Enjoy!

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Welcome! If your goal is to start your own business, you’re at the right place. What I’m going to be giving you is a process, or a blueprint if you will, for launching your own business from scratch. You can take the steps as quickly or slowly as you would like. The speed at which you complete them is completely up to you and your individual circumstances.

I want to say very clearly that I am pleased that you are considering starting your own business. I have a confession to make, I do have a selfish reason and that is I believe as more and more folks begin their own businesses, everyone will benefit, including me.

Why do I say that? Well, what I mean, is when people in general increase their productivity, everyone is helped by that increase in productivity.

I’ll give you an example, ok? If I had a business where I manufactured computers, let’s say they are laptop computers, and I figured out a way to make laptop batteries last twice as long without any increase in weight.

I don’t know if you have travelled much in your business (if you have or have had a job) but if you take your laptop with you away from your familiar environment, it is sometimes a problem to find a place to plug in. So battery life is a big deal.

So in my example of the laptop batteries, if I can increase the battery life and let’s say I do it without any increase in cost, I have helped my customers get more output. And that productivity boost will have some impact on everyone they associate with in their business, especially their own customers.

The other piece to this is the belief that most people can be more productive working in their own business than in a job. Notice I said CAN be, it’s really up to you to govern yourself and your time and what you do with your time, but most people realize there are huge inefficiencies in corporate America, particularly in the typical office environment. And in my experience the same can be said of many blue-collar type fields as well.

Your boss wants to get the most work out of you that he or she can (that’s their job), but in most cases they are not really that interested in developing you as an individual, and of course that’s why many of us went to college or took some specialized training and also why we want to keep learning all the time. We recognize that it’s our individual responsibility to be good stewards of the talents and skills that we possess.

The bottom line is that when you have your own business, you are free to do WHAT you want WHEN you want, you’re not hampered by company protocol or office politics, and I truly hope that you will make your aim to maintain a high output level.

The plan that I have laid out will work whether you are online, offline, or both. Sometimes marketers tend to just jump right in and start selling without dotting all of the “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s” as I’m going to suggest you do. My way isn’t the only way, but it is a way that WILL work if you do all the steps. For the person that craves a methodical approach, this should be perfect for you.

Now let’s jump right in to the ten steps. Some of these may take longer than others. They are laid out in order, to give you a methodical process for both preparing yourself mentally and doing the required legwork that will help ensure your success.

The steps are:

1. Self Assessment
2. Market Research
3. Decision Time
4. Business Planning
5. Financing
6. Startup Paperwork
7. Marketing Plan
8. Assemble Your Support Team
9. Evaluate
10. Launch

Stay tuned for Chapter 1

On Taking Action

Published August 28, 2011 in Bible , Marketing - 0 Comments

He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough. Proverbs 28:19

plough © by Wolfweb

This post is closely related the last one. I selected the King James translation because all the others I reviewed just didn’t have the same “punch”.

When the scripture speaks of “vain persons” or “vanity”, think “shallow”, “lacking depth”, or even “lacking character”. It’s a thin veneer that covers, making things appear different than they really are.

Of course, this is rampant in the business opportunity (bizopp) field, where programs and products are sold based on promises and dreams, but very little substance. The vain person will tell you what you want to hear: that getting rich is “easy”; anyone can do it.

If you have spent time on farms as I have, you know that plowing is not a quick process. It takes time and it seems like very little progress is being made when you’re in the middle of plowing. But what we are told in this verse is careful, continual action leads to prosperity.

On Diligence

Published August 19, 2011 in Bible , Marketing - 0 Comments

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. – Proverbs 13:4

Tortoise © by frefran

There’s a great deal of talk amongst internet marketers about “lazy” methods of making money.

I’ll give you a little secret: such talk is more than a little illusory. Sure, there are some who work only a few hours per day on their business, but it took thousands of hours to get to that point. Even then, a business does not “run itself” (see my prior post on “knowing your flock”).

The word “diligent” implies constant, careful, consistent action in moving toward your goals. It means not giving up when things aren’t going your way. It means having faith that your actions – your “works” – will actually produce something of value.

And that even includes your efforts to improve your business. Often we get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing we have always done – providing the same product or service in the same way to the same group of clients or customers.

If that is meeting your goals, great!

Many times, conditions change and we get dissatisfied with the outcome of our efforts as a result.

Instead of whining about how “easy” it used to be to earn (whatever your target), you get to practice diligence in improving your business… whatever that means for you.

It might mean learning a new skill set.

It might mean putting into practice a new lead generation system.

Or it could mean finally testing and tracking your marketing efforts.

Bottom line: practice diligence if you want to reap the rewards of the diligent.

Think “the tortoise” not “the hare”.