At some point, we all have that urge to create something that is meaningful and has impact on society. The urge to lose the fear of failing, of being judged. The urge of having a business of our own that makes us proud and accomplished.
In the $100 Startup book, Chris Guillebeau shares 10 major steps that will allow you to:
Some people start their project due to the worse scenarios such as getting fired, leaving their jobs or the Coronavirus pandemic we’re living right now. Or perhaps finally having some spare time to work on something they like. However, before choosing what you’ll do, you should not only take into account what is your passion and competences but also what other people care about. The secret sauce here is to combine your passion and specific competences to create value for the consumers, by solving a real problem in the market.
Now that we know what are our competences and what areas we would like to explore, you should start scrabbling some ideas. There are several ideation techniques you can use, but what’s most likely is that you have plenty of ideas. Sometimes the problem related with choosing the best business opportunities among them. For that, you can use Guillebeau’s Decision Making Matrix and choose the idea with the highest sum of factors considering its impact, effort, return and vision.
But, “the idea is only 1%.” Let’s go onto the next stage and make sure we start working on the 99% left.
As Karl Marx brilliantly exposed:
“If we go and fish someone’s dinner, we can sell it; if we teach them how to fish, we would lose an extraordinary business opportunity”.
More importantly than having crazy and out-of-the-box ideas, it is key to build something that is focused on satisfying your clients’ needs. To do this, you shouldn’t make assumptions of what your target segment enjoys or what solves their problem. Instead, try to find their not so obvious needs – the ones they might not even be aware of – and do it by interacting with many people who could be potential clients. Define hypothesis and validate or discard them, according to the market feedback.
Secondly, make clients feel they’re superheroes with your product or service, by having the power of achieving a relevant goal that wasn’t met before (e.g. a tool that helps you build a modern and professional website without programming skills). Last but not least, don’t forget to stand out the benefits that people will enjoy while using your product or service, instead of describing mere characteristics.
When choosing whether you should follow a “follow your passion” type of business, we should consider two questions:
For instance, Gary Leff had the interest of making great use of his accumulated miles, exchanging them for exotic vacation and first class flights. The same way executives have thousands of miles waiting to be used. However, they may not have the time to learn the process and solve the issues arising from these bookings. Due to this, Gary has now a second job, his very own hobby, and charges approximately 190€ per 2 people – which is not a lot, considering he books flights of thousands of euros for his clients. He only charges clients when he brings added value, so if Gary couldn’t help you, you owe him nothing.
After validating you really want to start a new business, searching and validating a real need you would satisfy or create for your customers, it’s time to reflect on your one page business plan:
Now that we know how will we combine competences with passion to create something people truly value, what are the next steps? To start a small business, you don’t necessarily need a high investment. What you do need is a product or service, clients who are interested in buying it and a way of getting paid. Guillebeau provides us a straightforward list of 6 steps:
Have you ever heard about hustling? It is the ability to promote something in a clear and engaging way that makes other people start talking about it. According to Guillebeau, this ability is a critical success factor for micro-companies. Define a message to let you network know about your new offer and create a list of 50 people, divided by categories. It’s important to make every message personal and connecting with your audience (e.g. mentioning something you have in common, asking for family, football matches: you choose). These people can be your beta testers or just your first contact with the market. Lastly, hustling may bring more clients and revenue than paid publicity, so use it wisely.
Building and nurturing relationships might be the most important thing ever, both in your personal and professional life. Guillebeau states that this should be a strategy, rather than a tactic. Take time to meet new people, listen and help them, with no strings attached. Later on, you’re the one who may need their help.
To ensure your target market will be ready to purchase your product, you have to create a story and share it step-by-step until the launch day. For instance, you can start by unveiling that you’re working on something new. The second message should focus on describing the benefits and added value: “This product will help people achieve (…)” or “This project may interest you because (…)”. After this, it’s the right time to share more details about the launch itself: what’s the date, place and what should people expect, in general terms. If it makes sense, invite people who are known in the area of your project to endorse it and give credibility. Or you can also plan for a 100% virtual launch, and have a live event with experts related to your business.
When the launch is getting closer, make a last call for everyone who may be interested in purchasing your product. A good launch campaign focuses on the sense of urgency your clients should have, but don’t forget that some of them may not be ready to buy something just yet. Finally, make sure everything is perfect on the D day and get ready to solve the n amount of issues which will (almost surely) rise.
Franchising has been proven successful across all industries, including the automotive, food, entertainment and retail industries. However, several key qualities ultimately determine a business’ ability to successfully become a franchise, namely:
Other growth options include: