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.

Setting Yourself Up For Success: Making Your First Sales

You have to let people know about your business so they can buy your products and services. One of the first steps is to write out and practice the “elevator speech” that answers the question, “What product or service does your business offer?”

Sit down and write down the answer for your business or the business you want to start. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • I am a business consultant who’s just released a book about starting your own business for less than $1,000 and making sure it’s successful.
  • I am an event planner who brings together artists and their art with people who appreciate it, in relaxed venues for an enjoyable evening.
  • I help people make money from the things they own but no longer need. (eBay and Craigslist trader).

That wasn’t tough at all, was it? However, you can increase the probability that you’ll get a sale by taking the next step and “showing” the person you talk to what you mean.

Business Consultant: That first example listed above is me. Friday, I went to see Lauri who’s been cutting my hair for fifteen years. She knew I’d been working on my book, $1,000 Start-Ups, for a couple of years, so I took it with me to show her it had been published. I set it down on the table and moved to the chair to get my haircut. As I was finishing up she asked me how the book was coming and I told her it had been published and reached over and picked it up.

She immediately told me to bring her a copy to leave in the shop with ordering information so her customers could buy the book, demonstrating how much your friends and other business owners want you to succeed.

The man who was next for a haircut immediately spoke up and asked, “Are you Leah?”   I said I was. He laughed and showed me a note he’d jotted down on a piece of paper. It had my name and the name of my book.   He’d seen it on the table, browsed through it, and wrote down the information so he could go find the book.

You can bet I gave him a card with the ordering information.

Event Planner: The second example – the event planner who brings together artists and their art with people who appreciate it and are potential buyers.

In order to conduct an event and invest very little of your own capital you need a venue, artists who want to display and sell their work, and buyers. Create a little ‘book’ that shows the events you’ve planned. Now add to that book a brochure or flyer for the event you’re planning.

Locate a venue, such as a nightclub, coffee shop, or restaurant whose owner would like to attract more business. Offer to hold your event there and bring in people who will purchase food and drinks while they are at the show. People who have a good time will return as customers in the future.

There are always artists who want to display their work, particularly if you are bringing customers in. Offer to include them for a set fee or a percentage of sales. Give the artists flyers and let them know they need to invite their friends and family. If you have 10 artists and they each invite 10 people you have enough of a crowd to generate some sales.

You can make the event more exciting by conducting a silent or live auction where each artist gets to have his work highlighted.

Put together a press release and take it to the local media to get coverage for your event.

After your first event spend the next week talking to everyone involved and find out if they would like to participate in your next event and if not, why not (then make the necessary adjustments).

eBay and Craigslist Trader: The third example given above is the easiest business to start.   All you need is a computer, a camera, and a business card to start generating business. Start by listing and selling your own items. Keep a ‘book’ with pictures of what you’ve sold and for what price to show to anyone you talk to. Have them EMAIL you a picture, write a description and list the item, and determine the protocol to use for delivery or shipment once it sells.

These are just quick examples of the hundreds of ideas in $1,000 Start-Ups for generating your first sales and marketing your business.