When I first started in business for myself, I was utterly depressed when reading all of the “how to” information out there about what it takes to start a business. The common knowledge about what it would take to become successful seemed like it would take much more time and money than I had.
I needed money NOW and virtually had no time or money to spend on implementing the things that the “experts” said that I “should” be doing.
What bothers me so deeply about this is that there are people out there right now who desire to go into business for themselves or start a completely new type of venture that are feeling the same way. They may be reading articles and blog posts like I was about how to build and grow their businesses and feeling as if profitability is something that exists at the end of a very long tunnel that can be reached only after jumping through a series of prescribed hoops.
3 Common “Must Haves” For Starting a Business that I Don’t Buy Into
Though all of the things in this list are helpful when growing a business, they don’t have to get in the way of progress. I don’t like to think that there is a stay at home parent with great potential or a someone who has a great idea that is not putting their ideas into action out of fear that they do not have all of the pieces in place to pull the trigger. I started my freelance business with virtually nothing and then over time added more to it after things were already in motion.
Myth #1: You Must Have a Fancy Website
When I started my freelance business, I had no website – not even a blog. Nothing. That’s because in the beginning, I didn’t even intend to start a freelance writing business. I was just trying to get some paying gigs while working on a completely different idea. If I would have known that I was trying to start a full-on business, I probably would have been held back by building a website and working on all of the steps to promote it and less time getting profitable.
You may have a killer idea right now that you are not moving forward with because of fears about a website – fears like:
- I’ll never catch up to my competitors
- I don’t have the money to hire a designer/developer
- It will take months for me to build a site with all of the features others in my industry have
- I won’t have any page rank or search engine rank so what’s the point
A colleague I work with just hired a freelance writer last week that does not have any website whatsoever, but had the skills we were looking for. One of the writers that I hired for my team has no website. Another has a very basic blog and a very basic website. Nothing fancy about either – but he gets the job done and that’s what I care about. I actually like to work with up and coming writers that haven’t yet built up a corporate presence because then I can mentor them in my style of SEO copywriting and they often are hungry to work harder. There are people who will appreciate a newcomer.
If you have some technical skills when it comes to design or websites, you are lucky but in the minority. Many people are intimidated by the thought of building a website. There are plenty of tools out there that you can use to build a basic website, e=commerce site or blog with almost no technical expertise and have it up and running in a day or two.
Myth #2: You Must Have First Page Visibility on the Search Engines
I do SEO for a living, so saying that you don’t NEED search engine visibility is counterproductive to my profession. But you don’t absolutely have to have search engine visibility in order to get attract tons of business! Of course search engine visibility is going to have an impact on your business, but you can substitute creativity and networking for search engine visibility.
So far, I haven’t hired or referred a freelancer because I found them by Googling the search engine results. One of them I found through a link on a blog. A few replied to Craigslist ads. Some emailed and introduced their services. Many are referrals. Other people that I’ve hired to do jobs were people that commented on my blog. There are many, many, many ways to connect with the right people other than search engines!
Of the 14,588 visitors that have stopped by Self Made Chick this month, only a tiny fraction of them came from search engines. The rest came from referring sites and from RSS readers. Here is a snapshot from my Google Analytics account as it looks today:
Traffic Sources for this blog
Myth #3: You Must Have a Business Plan
If I could trade all of the time I have spent writing business plans in my life for something that actually generated income, I’d probably be a lot further ahead. I have been working on starting businesses part time for most of my life and most of those ideas never got out of the idea stage because I spent too much time planning and not enough time pulling the freakin’ trigger!
The last company that I worked for before going out on my own was an internet start up that generated five figures a day. The CEO was adamantly opposed to having a business plan because he said it limited the company and did not give them the freedom to be as agile as they needed to be. Creating one would have been a waste of time because as soon as it would have been completed, many things would have changed.
I’ve written 3 business plans for businesses that when absolutely nowhere. In the back of my mind, I knew that this busywork disguised as necessary work was really just a way to procrastinate from actually taking action. A plan of action is a good thing – but do you really need to spend hundreds of dollars on business plan software and days, months or years to complete a full on business plan?
What Works: Not Procrastinating and Pulling the Trigger
Even if you are in business for yourself, there is probably something that you want to take action on right now but are not moving forward with. Why? Planning is great, but over planning and over analyzing can be a mask for fear and procrastination.
Just start! This might go against the grain a bit, but I really thing it is better to get something out there – even if it is not perfect – and then build upon it. If you are always striving for something better, than in theory, your business will never be exactly where you want it to be. There is always time to improve, but the harder part is taking that first step to start.
When I started this blog, it wasn’t exactly how I wanted it but I wanted to get it going. I was 5 weeks into it and had 144 subscribers before I brought Jonathan on board to put in some of the social plugins I wanted.
Though lots of people poke fun of free templates (love ya Naomi!), I used one and it may be a a while before I get a custom design in place. If I would have waited, I still may not have this blog up and going because there would have been no momentum to build on. There are plenty of blogs and websites out there with expensive custom designs that aren’t producing crap and lots of ugly ones that are serving their purpose just fine.
It would be great to have all the money and resources in the world to do whatever you wanted to best possible extreme – but what if this is not within your current means? What if you just got laid off and now is your chance to start a business that you’ve been thinking about for years? What if you just want to test out a market with a blog or a website or an idea before you sink a bunch of cash into it? You don’t NEED to wait until everything is perfect to take some form of action that is beyond planning and analyzing.
By just taking little actions every single day with the resources you have, you can build something substantial.
What Does It REALLY Mean To Pull The Trigger?
Put yourself to this challenge – no matter where you are in the game, imagine that you launched your online business tomorrow and you got an order. What would you need to deliver on that order? THAT is what you need to work on to pull the trigger. Everything else is just busywork that can be filled in later. Instead of spending time doing tasks that solve HOW you are going to get the business (that will come) spend time doing tasks that solve WHAT you need to do to deliver.
I’ll bet there were times in your life where you had a ridiculously short deadline to get something finished – but you got it done anyway. That’s because when our a** is really to the fire, it is amazing what we can accomplish!
Pulling the trigger is supposed to feel terrifying! I think that anyone that says otherwise is either not being completely honest or hasn’t challenged themselves enough. These people that accomplish big things don’t get to the point where they feel comfortable pulling the trigger – they just have become ok with feeling uncomfortable.
Let’s say you had 24 hours to deliver on your obligation that you now have a request for. What would you do? Then call in from work, tell all your clients that you are taking the day off, put on a pot of coffee and get it done. You will quickly discover all of your fears but then work through them. The process will be challenging and liberating and get you further ahead than you may have ever believed possible!
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