BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
I love Shark Tank.
I actually watch the episodes on Sunday mornings when I’m having brunch with my husband. As a small business owner (with two businesses, one almost seven and another just one year) I adore watching entrepreneurs figure out how to make it happen, and I really do enjoy seeing people acquire investors and uplevel their businesses.
I also coach entrepreneurs as part of several ventures in Winston-Salem and I have some amazing advice for people that want to start a business. Are you ready?
You don’t need investors, advisors or a ton of money to start a business.
Two of the worst things I’ve heard in my coaching career: another coach said “If you’re not doing it full time, it’s just a hobby,” and another business advisor said, “If you don’t have an extra $150 for your business, is it really a business?”
You don’t need those attitudes and parameters to try out your business idea and move from ideation to execution. You simply need a few answers to the following questions, a little bit of positive-risk taking and some fearlessness.
How Will You Make Money?
So often, new entrepreneurs have an amazing, well thought out idea for a business. It sounds SO COOL, even I’m excited about it. And then I ask the death knell of a question: how will you make money?
Silence. This is critical: before you do anything, spend any money, start a social media account, tell people – know how you’re going to make money. How are you going to get people to pay you for what you do? You don’t need to know how much: you do need to know what they are paying for. Maybe it’s a product, like a mug, or a service, like coaching. Know what you are selling. You might have goals to sell many things down the line; limit this to three. You don’t need three! Just don’t go above that – focus on the three strongest first, and then when you have those under your belt, add more.
What Are Your Needs?
To start – not to take over the world (or market) – what do you absolutely need? What are the bare minimum items that are required to start making money? Is it supplies? Customers? A website? Business cards? Sure, you might want that fancy logo and interactive website and beautiful business cards. What do you actually need to start selling the thing that will make you money? Make a list: and now take off any wants that snuck in there. Cut this down to the “without this, I can’t sell anything even if someone is in front of me with money and a need for my product or service.” Figure out what’s truly necessary to do the next step…
Try It Now.
Go. Do it. Yep, it’s going to be scary. If you’re selling a thing, try posting on your social media accounts; same with a service. You absolutely do not need things like a website, a name, a logo, a social media account for your business. You do need the bravery it takes to put yourself out there to see if this IS something that could be a business or a side hustle. Not everything needs to be a full time business that hires 20 people a year. The only way you’re going to know if it’s going to work is giving it a shot. And that’s going to be scary, because guess what? It might fail. No one might want it. No one might be interested.
And on the other hand, they all might be interested.
You won’t know until you try.