Setting Yourself Up for Success: Identifying the Skills You Need to Succeed … and Learning Those Skills

Understanding the knowledge you’ll need when you start your business can prevent the “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” phenomena that stalls and derails many start-ups. Factoring in the time it will take you to learn the new skills necessary for launching, operating, and marketing your business also leads to more realistic expectations and can keep you from getting frustrated while learning the new skills. The first step, of course, is to think through what you will need to know in order to produce and market your product or service and get your business started.

There are at least three types of knowledge an entrepreneur needs:

  1. Basic Knowledge: This is the knowledge required for any business of the general type being launched. Some examples:
    1. If the business provides a service such as appointment management or any type of administrative support, knowing how to use a computer and office software is basic knowledge that’s needed.
    2. If the business produces a product or product line, understanding supply chain and inventory management is required.
    3. If the business relies on social media and the Internet for product sales, the business owner must have enough basic Internet skills to be able to communicate effectively.

Basic knowledge is readily available at a low cost. You can buy or borrow a book, take an online tutorial or a community college course, or both.

  1. Specialized Knowledge: This is the knowledge required for the specific type of business. Some examples:
    1. If the business involves writing and self-publishing books, the business owner will have to learn how to format books for publication, where to publish, how to do order fulfillment, and the skills necessary to market the book.
    2. If the business involves cookie baking or cake decorating, the business owner will need to understand the best ingredients to use, how to produce predictable results, how to price their products and where to sell them.
    3. If the business targets seniors, the business owner will need to understand the issues facing that population, what programs and services are available, and the best approached for marketing to seniors and their families.

Specialized knowledge is also readily available. With the wealth of information available on the Internet today it can be time consuming to sift through all of the information. Organizing your approach, then breaking it down into steps helps you target what information you’re seeking.

You can also gain a host of information by taking a part time job in a business that offers the same products or services you’ll be offering or by starting or joining a networking group for people in the same business.

  1. Start-Up Knowledge: This is the knowledge needed to start-up the business. Some examples include:
    1. The registration and licensing requirements for the business selected.
    2. How to write an effective business plan.
    3. The insurance that is needed to protect the business.

This information is readily available often at a low or no cost. In the US you can start at the Small Business Administration’s website:   www.sba.gov.

Once you’ve learned a new skill, the best way to master it is to teach it to someone else, maybe another micro-entrepreneur who’s starting a business.

In $1,000 Start-Ups I’ve provided a list of the Basic, Specialized, and Start-Up information you need for each of the 60 businesses. I hope it saves you some time and frustration when you launch your new business.

Start Your Business Without Leaving Your Job: Ideas for an Admin Assistant

Yesterday I enjoyed a conversation with a brave woman from England who moved to the states with her husband. She left family and friends to move for his career, only to have the marriage dissolve when she’d been here long enough that it made better sense to start over here than go back to England.

She found a job as an administrative assistant with a good company that she can’t afford to quit, but is really was looking for something more intellectually and financially satisfying.

After a few minutes of brainstorming, here are five ideas she can try:

Appointment Setter: She could contact tradesman who have small businesses and offer to schedule their appointments and do make the telephone calls every evening,

Editor: She could articles for local periodicals or writers (and advertise on Craigslist).

Non-Fiction Writer: She could select one of her many interests, develop a set of articles and market them to magazines and websites who are looking for that content.

Personal Assistant: She could spend two hours each evening running client’s errands.

Transcriptionist: She could transcribe the dictation of medical report or court proceedings.

Many of us who want to start a business have that same dilemma. How to start our business, get it up and running, build a client or customer base, but keep our fulltime job until there’s enough income from the business to make the transition.

I’ll bet you can come up with five ideas of what you could do to get your business started.  Please share them with us.

Setting Yourself Up for Success: Overcoming Inertia and Procrastination

Sometimes when I need to buckle down and ‘just get it done’ I find myself doing everything except the one thing that would help my business most. My first book, $1,000 Start-Ups has just been released and I need to execute the excruciatingly detailed marketing plan I developed to go with the book.

I think about all I have to do and feel overwhelmed. Because I feel overwhelmed I render myself incapable of doing anything (except perhaps playing spider solitaire, or getting on Facebook, or EMAIL, or cleaning something, anything – I can find many ways to procrastinate). I find that before I can actually get to the business of my business I have to move past that feeling.

For me what works (most of the time) is to reason it out. My “self-talk” sounds like this: “Leah, it’s logical that you have a lot to do and feel overwhelmed.” (This is followed by a few deep breaths as I consider the thought.) “Take the first thing on your list and work on it for an hour.”

This is particularly true when I’m trying to do something I haven’t done before or haven’t done enough times to master. Then I have to remind myself, “You have started a business you haven’t done before and don’t know much about. You have to take the time it takes to learn these new skills. Once you learn them they won’t take as long to do.”

It’s not unusual for owners of start-up companies to find themselves having a difficult time overcoming inertia.

Please share your tips on what you do when you’re faced with this.

Setting Yourself Up for Success: Understanding the Business Cycle of Your New Business

It’s February. One of the toughest months of the year for a new business owner. You thought January was bad, but one week into February nobody seems to be buying any of your goods or services.

The temptation to “throw money at it” by buying advertising or more stock, is overwhelming, particularly if you made a little money during the frenzy of December when people are on buying sprees. Put away your credit card, Matilda.  Let’s think this through!

There’s also the temptation to launch a huge media campaign that includes the desperate cry, “Please buy my …” or “Please hire me to ….”

Before you panic, consider whether this is a business cycle issue.

When you developed your business plan one of the areas you took the time to define was your target market. (If you didn’t, this is a good time to do that.) Who are the individuals or businesses who need your product or service?  What’s going on with them in February?  Are they interested in buying your product or service now? Look at the periodicals where your type of product or service is advertised.  What are the preponderance of ads touting? (Is it Valentine’s Day if you’re targeting consumers and Tax related services if you’re targeting businesses?)

You also completed a competitive analysis when you developed your business plan and set up methods of keeping up with what more seasoned business owners selling your product or offering your service were doing, either by checking their websites or signing up to be on their mailing lists. (If not, please do it now.) This lets you see what they’re doing publicly. Apply that to your business. How long would it take you to prepare to be doing the same activities?

There probably isn’t time to cash in on Valentine’s Day or the business tax deadlines (there may be!) but think through what the next cycle will be, and the next, and the next. Walk through a year and plan your campaigns and determine what you need to do to prepare for them and when.

If it’s not a business cycle issue or if you absolutely need to make some sales to get through the month think through a way to package your product or service in a way that compels your target market to act right now.

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Above all, don’t panic.  Think it through.  You can do this.

$1,000 Start-Ups has hundreds of ideas on how to market your particular business. Order your copy today.