Step 1. Identify something that people want and will pay for.
One of the most common stumbling blocks for aspiring entrepreneurs is deciding on a product or service to market. The primary consideration is to choose something that people will buy. And the easiest way to do that is to go with something that other people are already selling successfully.
Ideally, that will be something you love and/or know a lot about. For instance, if you’re an accountant, you could create and sell programmes about how people can prepare their taxes, how they can make a household budget, and how they can find hidden tax deductions. Or, if you’ve always loved animals, you could sell pet toys, treats, and accessories.
If you have trouble coming up with a likely product or service based on your own interests and/or expertise, choose a relatively simple service that’s in high demand. A house cleaning service, for example, or bookkeeping, lawn mowing, resume writing, or house painting. The possibilities are almost endless.
Step 2. Find a way to supply it.
This step just requires a bit of business common sense. If you’re selling a service, you would either supply the service yourself or hire someone else to do it (or help you). If, for example, you’ve decided to go into the moving business, you don’t have to be capable of handling furniture yourself. Simply hire a few people who can do heavy lifting and either buy or rent a truck.
If you’re selling a product, you would ideally seek out suppliers that can provide you with merchandise at a low enough price for you to be able to make a profit. But that usually means buying in volume - which may not work for you when you’re just starting out. Let’s say you’d like to sell bookshelves. In this case, it might make more sense for you to get your business going by buying the lumber and building the shelves yourself (or hiring someone to build them for you).
Step 3. Sell it to the people who want it.
I’m a big believer in direct marketing for small start-up businesses. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to get your marketing message to prospective customers via e-mail, regular mail, ads in local papers, or even flyers distributed door to door.
Let’s say you want to start a housekeeping service. You’d identify a few affluent neighbourhoods where the homeowners could, presumably, afford maids. Then you’d target them with either flyers or small mailers.
Or suppose you want to start a business where you take people on charter fishing boat trips. You’ll be marketing primarily to tourists, so you’d work on getting yourself listed in local tourist guides and maybe advertise on a few bus benches in your city’s hotel district. If you decide to go after locals too, you could contact local fishing clubs and see if you can rent their membership lists to do a mailing. You might also make a deal with local bait shops to distribute your flyers.
Obviously, starting and running a successful business requires time, energy, and effort. Still, when you break down the process, it’s just those three simple steps.