I’ve started 5 small businesses. 2 of them failed. 1 of them made a little money. 2 of them made a lot of money. Here’s the advice I wish I was given beforehand.
1. Do not get an MBA.
2. Fake it till you make it. Stop telling people, I’m thinking about becoming a dog walker. Starting today, when people ask what you do, look them strait in the eye and say, I am a dog walker. Then hand them a business card with your website. I don’t care if you’ve never walked a dog in your life.
3. Make a website immediately. It doesn’t have to be good. A lame website is infinitely better than no website. Build it on Squarespace. A consultant/entrepreneur without a website does not exist.
4. When you work for yourself, you’ll have two jobs.
Job 1: The service you provide. e.g. dog walking. This is the best part. This is why you started the business in the first place. So you could walk dogs. You’ll like this part. Chances are, you already know how to do this part.
Job 2: Running the business. Most people do not like this part. e.g. making a website, selling yourself, invoicing clients, customer service, spreadsheets etc. You'll learn this part as your go along.
You have to be good at both these jobs if you’re going to succeed. If you are an amazing dog walker but bad at customer service, your business will fail.
5. Networking events and conferences are rarely helpful. People with money and power do not hang out there.
6. Figure out who your customer is. Talk to members of that tribe. Figure out what they need. Figure out where they hang out. Spend time there. e.g. Do not go to dog walker conferences. Hang out in a dog park.
7. Offer apx. 3 products/services.
Product 1: Free - You have a great blog/Insta account about dog exercise research. This helps market your business and conveys to people that you're competent in your field.
Product 2: Affordable. This will be where most of your income comes from. e.g. you’ll walk someones dog every day for $20/day.
Product 3: Pricey - this is for rich people who have money to burn. e.g. you give their dog a walk, then a massage, then send the owner pics of their dog chasing squirrels.
List these 3 products on your website along with the prices.
8. Your business will probably fail. That’s OK. Entrepreneurship is more of a personality type. Either you have it or you don’t. Most people who try to work for themselves tap out after 6-12 months. But when I ask them if they regret it, they always say no. It’s very fulfilling to pursue a goal even if it doesn’t work out.
9. If you do not have a website for your business built within the next 3 days, you should not be working for yourself. It’s a clear sign that you don’t have the drive. Just throw in the towel now, slither back to your cubicle and continue getting mismanaged by your incompetenet supervisor.