The Process Of Starting A Business
I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my free time, I’ve been thinking about starting a business. I enjoy relaxing and reading, lounging at a coffee shop or having beers with friends. But I also realize that my 30’s are a valuable time because I still have plenty of energy to put into a project and have enough working years left that I can recover in case I screw it up.
Starting a business may not be on top of everyone’s list but maybe because the phrase “starting a business” has a negative connotation to many, bringing to mind countless hours spent building something up from nothing.
The Definition Of A Business
A real estate broker has a business of selling real estate and a doctor who owns an urgent care has clients who are patients. One person could have an online consulting company and another may run a doggy-daycare.
I think for me it’s anything that I can run on my own that will generate income. Starting a business means I get to be my own boss and set the pace, working as much as or as little as I want. An extended, and important, definition for me is that it’s something that I can step out of and still maintain an income.
Some will buy an established business, such as a restaurant or a warehouse. This kind of venture requires a lot of startup capital and needs expertise otherwise you could drain your cash fast trying to make it work.
My friend’s family buys chain restaurants. They own nearly $100 million worth of a popular burger chain and buy up other non-competing smaller chains such as pizza shops because they know how to make fast-food profitable. They didn’t start out that way, they began with one restaurant and built their expertise around that niche.
By purchasing more restaurants the husband and wife team were able to afford local managers, district managers and operations managers who now run the business for them – they have successfully stepped out of the day-to-day operations.
How To Start It
Starting big is probably the biggest mistake I’ve seen among my friends and from my own personal mistakes. Then again, if you start small the earning potential might not be enough to cover your living expenses. But the advantage is that you can do it alongside your main work.
With this method it means having to give up some of my free time but I would pick something that I enjoy doing; that would make up for the feeling of lost downtime.
Getting investors. We are in a worrisome economy right now where there is insane amounts of cash floating around. Meaning that cash is artificially valued high and a strong crash of the currency is around the corner. What it means for us would-be entrepreneurs is that it’s easier than ever to get investors while the honey floweth.
I have a few people in mind that I would go to for cash, knowing they would invest in something as long as I show the character to see it to completion.
Partnering up with someone else. I did this on one occasion and it was a good move for me because each of us brought a completely different talent to the table, it’s something I would do again. I think the pitfall here is that if you bring someone else in just so there is less work for you or so you have someone holding your hand you might regret it later.
Look for a partner who will bring a talent that you don’t possess, they don’t need to be 50% partner but can be your go-to person for technical problems for a smaller percentage. If it’s your idea then there is absolutely nobody else who will want it to succeed as much as you, meaning you can’t rely on anyone else even if they have an investment in your business.
What Idea To Go With
I keep a running list of all the business ideas that jump into my head. Over the years I’ve thought about:
- real estate, flipping vs rentals
- start a mediation firm for patients and docs
- open a low-cost urgent care
- a staffing firm for physicians
- cosmetic laser clinic
- auto mechanic shop
- concierge clinic in the Philippines
The income potential isn’t as important to me. My criteria are that the business offers a product or service which I believe in, that is good for society as a whole, has a potential for employees and is something that I can sell down the road or step out of mostly.
In the future I believe there will be a larger market for selling information.
There has never been a time when information has been this ubiquitous, easy to access and cheap. I can google damn near anything and learn or find out what I need. The problem is that there is so much information now that it has become a big waste of my time to do these searches.
You don’t know what kind of fucked up website you’re gonna click on that you then can’t close or that has so many pop-ups or ads that it gives you a panic attack just looking at it.
Information is also controlled quite viciously by those with more money. An interest group can pay top dollar to copywriters to write whatever it is that they want the public to believe.
Car manufacturers will develop thousands of sites claiming that electric cars are good for the environment… are you fucking kidding me? Or the financial websites boasting what a great time it is to buy real estate, here in 2016, because interest rates are low… well yea, but housing prices are at an all-time high, apparently that’s not important.
This post is a good example, I’m talking about all sorts of shit when in reality someone may just want to know exactly what business idea might fit them best as the post title tickles.
Professional web searchers already exist and it defeats the purpose of telling them exactly what you want when you can type as fast as you can talk and just sift through the bullshit yourself. I did at one point try one of those virtual assistants and I’ll admit that for little money they research the shit out of whatever it is that you have them research.The problem again becomes information overload.
What I like seeing out there are these websites that are paid. They are niche websites, talking about very specific topics. And though they have some general information on their site about whatever it is they are talking about, it’s not concise… just a lot of information to sift through.
Instead, for paid members or for a fee, they have videos or audio or manuals that you can download which addresses whatever you need to know specifically.
Every person has an expertise in one thing or another. Probably one of their hobbies, or a family business they helped out with or even a field they work in. Books are great but not an efficient way to get the information you need and they don’t offer much of a forum for you to interact with the author.
Blogs like this are ass-loads of verbal diarrhea with a few good bits of information. Podcasts are nice, you can absorb more information while doing other things and pay more attention when the speaker talks about what it is you wanna hear more about.
Brick & Mortar Business
If I do open a business I would strongly consider opening my own urgent care. I have good patient satisfaction scores, I’m presentable in front of patients and I can move meat like a butcher. Since there are already a ton of urgent cares out there I would focus on niche populations. Either the young, healthy and rich or the poor, unhealthy and old.
The former has a lower patient volume but more demanding patients but has the advantage of being able to charge beyond going-rates if I can provide something that other docs can’t. The latter is where most urgent cares make their money. It’s high volume and high stress but if you’re willing to see a lot of patients it’s easy money.
Retail can make really good money as well. I went on a date with a woman who told me that she worked at a secondhand store for high-end purses. It was a mid-sized boutique and apparently the owner was killing it.
My uncle is doing really well teaching foreign students English at one of those language schools. He can’t hire enough teachers and add classes fast enough.
Few Small Steps In The RIGHT Direction
We live in the most entrepreneurial country in the world and yet get no formal training on how to navigate starting a business. The only visible things that stand out to many of us are business cards, a physical location and a brand. We know very little about how something started and what the backbone of it is, why it succeeded.
When I started my auto mechanic shop I didn’t have a license, a website, business cards or even a hired mechanic. I was testing the business idea out and the demand was there.
To start a business you simply need to sell a product or service, even if you don’t profit off of it. The exchange of money between you and someone else is the very first and most important parts of starting a business.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in dabbling in their own business to just start without all the fluff. Skip the incorporation, the LLC and skip the domain name and business cards. If you want to consult, advise, teach, lecture, sell or collect then start now.
Start with your friends & Family
In the US culture there is a bit of taboo surrounding selling to friends, not so in other countries. Maybe it has to do with the cold-callers from the 60’s and 70’s who have trained us to assume that if someone is finding us it means that we are being bamboozled.
If I had a friend who was composing really good music then I would love to buy an album from her. If a friend of mine was designing great felt art then I would want to support him and decorate my place with it in the process.
I have a friend who collects rare Bourbons and Whiskeys. I had no idea how much time and effort he has put into this and what a profitable endeavor it can be. Good for him. He is going to sell me a couple of great bottles which I will keep and resell once I can profit from them.
The easiest way to keep track of the books is to open a basic checking account (no need for a business account) and deposit a couple thousand dollars in there. This will be your upfront investment. Then, any expenses and sales can be deposited into this same account which will make tax calculation very simple.
Learning About Marketing & Sales
I have read a few books on sales and understand the concepts behind marketing. But I haven’t delved much deeper into these subjects. The next step for me is to actually take courses which will help me zero in on the areas I need to focus on the most.
Marketing will help me build my brand, sort of what I am doing with my blogging. It will also allow me to collect the right audience who is interested in the same things I am, meaning they would spend money on the same things I am. I understand marketing to be the ability to place the right product/service in front of the appropriate audience.
Sales is communicating to that audience why that product/service is right for them. Product ideas are abound and I believe that if I spend enough time in this personal finance & early retirement scene then I will at some point come up with something that is worth selling to my audience.
Don’t mistake selling for just pushing a shitty product on someone. A finished product needs to be developed, tested and packaged just right for it to be effective. It needs to satisfy a need, or make money or save money for the buyer.
If the product is a book it needs to be researched. If it’s a course it needs to be researched and produced. If it’s a physical product then it needs to be built and tested.
Start today. If you have an idea in mind then start blogging about it. Get on niche websites and start chatting with those who are in this field. You won’t know whether an idea is feasible until you get knee deep into it.
You can have multiple projects running at once. I would say I have 4 decent-sized projects that I am working on right now, each fairly viable and likely to turn a profit eventually.
By having multiple projects you are learning a lot and figuring out which one exactly is most ideal for you. It might be the lifestyle factor, fun, income or prestige that matters more for one person than another. Delving into an idea will help you tease that out.