In 2007, I graduated college and got my first job.
About a year and a half later the president of the company and his team, including my boss the CMO, called everyone together and announced layoffs.
Welcome to the workforce…
But I look back on that moment as a key moment in my life. It made me realize that there are no guarantees in life. Especially with a job.
I had always had the itch to start a business. Every since I was a kid. Lemonade stands. Mowing lawns. I always enjoyed doing the things that went along with business.
At the time of those layoffs I was working on some kind of hunting website. That didn’t work out. But I also started blogging and from that GBW grew.
As I was starting GBW I always thought of it was something that could be there in case I did lose my job. I figured if no job was safe at least I would take control of what I could control. I could focus on building a business of my own or at least building skills that would set me apart.
Not many people like writing and blogging. But we like reading and consuming content. So writing, and writers, are valuable.
Anyway, if you still have a job it’s still okay to prepare to start a business.
And if you’ve just lost a job then this post is for you too. Here are some checkpoints to go through if you want to start a business.
Is A Business Right For You
I think about the change in the idea of starting a business these days. It’s almost like it’s a cool thing to do or to at least talk about doing.
In 2007, I was in the Entrepreneur Program at my college. There were 12 kids. 12 kids out of 10,000 wanted to be entrepreneurs. It was not cool.
I think back to when one of my uncles started his own business in 1974. I can’t even imagine how uncool it was to think about being an entrepreneur back then.
But now there is a coolness factor to the idea. It’s okay if you do start a business. Others don’t look at you as crazy. At least not as much in the past.
That’s great, but it’s also a little scary.
Many people are in love with the idea of starting and running a business, but the actual work and stress aren’t a good fit for them.
I like when a potential client tells me no.
I like when a current client all of sudden stops paying their bills.
I like not knowing that I’m living on the edge of paying all the bills.
Okay, maybe I don’t like those things, but I do like the challenge. I like the day-to-day of it. And that’s the reality. You spend a lot of time in the mud when you’re running a business.
Yes, there are times when you’re thinking big picture. That’s important actually. But it’s not all big picture. It’s everything.
And it takes patience. Extreme patience. Even if you look at the Inc. 5000 every year you’ll see businesses that have been around for 5, 10 or even 20 years before they started “growing fast”.
Look into your brain. Determine if you like the idea of the work that goes into a business or just the idea of owning a business.
Look For Frustration
Let’s say you determine that you like the work. You’re excited about the work that goes into running a business. Not just telling people that you have a business or that you’re a founder.
In that entrepreneur program one of our tasks was to come up with ideas everyday for businesses.
We filled notebooks…with bad business ideas.
My mistake was that I was always trying to come up with cool business ideas. Website ideas. Then app ideas. all kinds of dumb things.
Most businesses aren’t cool. Maybe one out of a hundred thousand?
Businesses are born from frustration. It could be your own frustration. It could be the frustration you see from others.
That’s where GBW came from.
I saw two people that couldn’t keep their business blogs maintained. So I stepped in and filled that need.
I had no “idea” to start a blogging services business, but that’s how it worked out.
Your idea, if you are open to it, will probably come the same way.
Look For Boring & Existing
And you don’t have to make some big breakthrough with your business idea. There are plenty of great businesses that you can get into.
You can copy what someone else is doing and add your own touches.
Maybe you called the plumber for a leak in your bathroom tub. You were really frustrated because they came out three times. Each guy didn’t have the details from the previous guy. It was a mess. Nothing was getting fixed.
Plumbing is boring, but it’s very much needed. And in your area there is probably a need for a service that is very organized and professional. Reliable. All hours of the day.
When you see those frustrations and vulnerabilities in a boring business then there is big opportunity.
Look For Your Strengths
Being self aware is a key to life. Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are?
For me a weakness was talking. But I’m great at written communication. Or at least pretty good. So I went all in on the written thing and here we are with Ghost Blog Writers.
Heck, we even have a remote team and we rarely talk by voice. All email. I do talk with customers once in awhile, but the business very much reflects me and my strengths.
Others may be better with voice, but it’s not my strength. I doubled down on text and it’s made things pretty efficient, which is good for us and for our customers.
Run The Simple Numbers
This is a step that’s often overlooked in business.
Let’s say you have an idea to sell a new product on Amazon or in retail stores. There’s a lot that goes into selling a product like that.
Running the numbers would make you realize quickly that there might not be a lot of money to make.
Let’s take selling on Etsy as an example. You want to create watercolors and sell the prints on Etsy.
You price that at $10. How many do you have to sell $1 million?
You might be lucky to sell 5 the first month. And the second. Maybe 1,000 in the first year. Maybe.
Run the numbers on how much you can sell something for. Then run the costs on what goes into it. It’s a simple exercise that is often skipped in starting a business.
Get A Job To Cover The Basics
Most businesses don’t make money right away. It’s possible, but don’t count on it.
Some might tell you to go all in with a business. That might work. The pressure would be there to push you to get it done.
But get a job to cover the basics. Something that doesn’t take too much effort and brain work. Just something that takes 8 hours a day or whatever to cover the basics.
Then come home and work another 6-8 hours and sleep the other 6-8 hours.
Really cut back to the basics. It’s amazing how little we can live off of even if we have a family.
Remember The Patience
Big one here.
You might get that job to cover the basics. It might be tough for your family. That could get you to fall into the trap of the short-term. Where you’re making business decisions because you feel the short-term pressure.
But that’s where patience is key. It takes patience to look 10, 20 or even 50 years down the road with your business. You have to make almost every business decision with the long-term outlook.
Starting a business is definitely an option if you lose your job. Or if you think you may lose your job in the future. But there are some things to run through before you get yourself into a bad situation. It’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. You can make a great living at a lot of jobs. Maybe it’s intrapreneurship that’s for you.
But hopefully the thoughts above will help you if you do want to start your business.