5 free suggestions
Do you have a brilliant business idea that you imagine will jump from your curious mind intact, adult, and perfectly formed, with just a few short clicks of your keyboard, and a minimal investment of time and money? Guess again.
Please allow me to share my experiences with you, in the hopes that it might save even one optimistic and naive soul from certain start up disaster. I have graciously made these mistakes for you, so you don’t have too. Some of them I’ve even tried more than once, just to be certain they where incorrect and wasted the maximum amount of time and money. Before I continue, please keep the following statement in mind, as it is the actual key to not toiling away into obscurity.
“The number one reason most small businesses fail in the first year, is because they get discouraged, lose momentum, and give up before they can gain the required knowledge to proceed”-Forbes
I, however, am like a cockroach. I keep trying, until the Universe feels badly enough to lead me to the right information at the right time, in the right order. Or, maybe there is a learning curve. Hmmm?
My Story: What not to do.
First, have a vague idea. One day, about three years ago, I had an inspiration to start a crystal jewelry business. I loved the geology as well as the metaphysics of it, and had often made items for friends and family. People asked where they could find my creations, and I had no answer. One day I wrote “Naked Fairy Apothecary” on the closet door. Shazzam! I often have brilliant Ideas. I typically write them in sharpie, on the wall, by my computer desk. I meditate on it, and visualize the outcome in it’s entirety. I make a lot more notes and do random research, and stick that on the wall, too. This magically makes things happen.
Next, tell all your friends, and even some strangers what you are doing, so you can get the most unsolicited advice possible, freely share your creative solutions, and be accosted at every electronic turn by sales pitches to assist you in your endeavor. It will also put pressure on you to produce something of value rather quickly, and keep you constantly stressed out with inquiries about how it’s coming along.
Borrow money from friends and family with no solid plan to pay it back, and no contracts. This will certainly never come back to bite you in the butt, be used as an emotional blackmail tool, or made you feel really dodgy and awkward in the future, right?
Use that money on product development, consultations, and creative endeavors. You know.. material, supplies, and heck, you have to take time off from your regular job to make all this stuff and meet with people, right? You will also need some computer help, I mean most artistically minded people aren’t also necessarily super computer tech’s, so meet some people at parties and social events, and hire them. Immediately. Pay them whatever they ask, and don’t check references. I mean, it is pretty impressive that they tell you about all the fascinating and technical things you will be requiring to function professionally. I went through three, maybe four, different web designers and freelancers until I found a few things that worked, (for me). I can’t even tell you how much time and money those lessons cost, not to mention, when it doesn’t work out, you have to re configure everything, because you’ve just given personal account access to a total stranger. Some options, I have to admit, were just not worth trying, but, I tried anyway. I hired a ‘professional’ photographer at one point, even though I am a pretty proficient shot myself. Four hundred dollars later, I realized, I was a lot better at it than I had given myself credit for. Seriously. I re hired myself. (99% of the pictures you see on any of my web sites or media, are my own work). Self doubt is a killer skill. Not as useful as misplaced arrogance, but still right up there.
Tired of doing it wrong? Alright, here’s some real suggestions.
5 creative solutions. I have found a few solutions to share, for free. Never a charge for my unsolicited advice.
- Just do something. Regardless of what it is that you create, a DIY webbuilder like Etsy, Wix, or YouTube can get you started, and put you and your product or service in front of people. There are several that cost next to nothing, and there is no public consequence for doing it wrong. Play with your options. If you have some money to invest, hire a reputable professional. Check references. Get a contract.
- Know your audience. We tend to sell and share, from the point of view of the protagonist-ourselves! Reality check, there is only one of you. What character traits might define your ideal audience? How old are they, what sex, demographic, income and education level are you marketing to? If you write childrens books, for example, you aren’t going to sell them to five year olds, you will have to have an idea of what that child’s parent will be attracted to.
- Write out a financial plan that makes sense, and if that is not your strong area, ask for help. Allocate the appropriate amount of funds for each area of your business. It can’t be all social media and marketing if your product or service is ill conceived, or you know…say, buying a bunch of expensive crystals, and designing the perfect packaging, and never getting your website quite right. Don’t project income you may or may not see for a long time. If ever.
- Keep records. all of them. Every last one. Every receipt, phone number, password, things you set up and took down five times, directions to systems and copies of designs. All of it. You will need these things for taxes, to know what to charge, who has accesses, for comparisons, and to communicate. It’s more than inconvenient to find yourself locked out of an important program or campaign because you can’t find the right login credentials, or don’t remember who is holding the keys.,
- Dance like nobobody is watching. The greatest artists, scientists and innovators all have one thing in common-at some point, no one knew their name. You might never be famous, rich, or even understood. It doesn’t matter. What matters is your willingness to participate in your own life. To leap over gigantic personal hurdles, like fear of failure, fear of success, fear of seeing your own face in a video, fear of being vulnerable and authentic and finding out that not everyone loves you. Fact-they don’t. They never will. But, in that magical moment, when a total stranger sees your “thing” and it makes them happier or healthier, or more thoughtful than they were five minutes previous, and even possibly pulls out their wallet, and buys your “thing”, it will make all the difference in the world. It will make every perceived failure a lesson learned. You have just added to the collective solution, you are a creator, and you are a professional. So, go make another “thing”!
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