Step 1: Find a business idea
This is probably the most daunting area for people. In fact, the most common reason why people haven’t started a business on the side is that they “just don’t have a good business idea.”
This is just a mental barrier though — one that you can easily get past if you look at one area: your strengths.
Here are four questions you can ask yourself to find a solid business idea:
What skills do you have?Now, what do you know and know well? These are the skills and knowledge that you have acquired.Think of it another way: We pay for expert knowledge all the time (e.g., language classes, college courses, instrument lessons). Guess what? You can be that teacher too.Examples: Fluency in a foreign language, programming knowledge, cooking skills, etc.
What do you do on a Saturday morning?What do you do on a Saturday morning before everyone else is awake? This can be incredibly revealing to what you’re passionate about and what you like to spend your time on.I have a friend who LOVES clothes. Her Saturday mornings consist of reading fashion blogs and maintaining a Pinterest account overflowing with outfit and design ideas.Here’s what I find interesting: She never thought about turning this into a business!
It’s just something she likes to do BUT I guarantee you that there are a lot of people who’d pay $500 for a style consultation over Skype that she could do from the comfort of her own home. Some people might even pay her thousands to be their personal shopper.Examples: Browsing fashion websites, working on your car, reading fitness subreddits, etc.
What do you already pay for?You don’t even have to play to your strengths and talents. Instead, you can look to things you already pay for.After all, we pay people to do a lot of different things. There’s no reason you can’t turn one of those things into your own online business.Examples: Clean your home, walk your pet, cook your meals, etc.
Find at least 3 – 5 answers to each of those questions. By the end, you’ll have 12 – 20 business ideas you can start on the side.
For now, just pick one of those ideas and move onto step two. Don’t worry if you’re not feeling it. Later you can always return to your list and pick another one. That’s the beauty of this system.
Bonus: Still struggling to come up with a great business idea? Click here to receive a free PDF of 30 proven business ideas.
Step 2: Find top-paying clients
Finding clients doesn’t have to be a nightmare of cold calling/emailing. You just have to remember that the vast majority of your competition is downright terrible.
They’re so terrible that if you just put in a little bit of effort into your initial reach out, you’ll immediately separate yourself from 99.999% of others. This is especially true on job boards like Craigslist.
This doesn’t apply to just Craigslist either — you can use this with any job site. The key is to just be slightly better than average and willing to test a few different emails.
Here are a few suggestions of great sites freelancers can use to find business:
Writers: MediaBistro.com, Upwork.com, FreelanceWritingGigs.com
Illustrators/Designers: 99designs.com, Designs.net
Programmers: Toptal.com, Gun.io
Go through both Craigslist and at least two other sites for potential leads. Find at least 5 – 10 potential clients you can reach out to and move onto the next step…
Step 3: Pitch them your work (with scripts!)
The key to reaching out to potential clients and customers is speaking directly to their needs.
It’s basic human psychology. Imagine you’re on a first date and all the other person can talk about is what THEY want and THEIR needs. You’re going to be sneaking out the bathroom window within minutes.
But imagine if they asked you questions about you and seemed genuinely interested in your life and problems. You’d be much more interested in a second date, wouldn’t you?
Step 4: Tune the perfect price
Pricing is confusing for every beginner. And it’s fraught with questions like, “Is $XX / hour too much? Is it too little?” or “Should I be charging per hour or by the project?”
There aren’t any hard set rules for rates — but there are a few handy rules of thumb that you can use to find one that works for you.
Just pick one of the methods above and use it as your initial price. Once you start charging your clients, you’ll have a good idea if it’s enough for you.
After your first few clients, you can start “tuning” your rates. Were you making $30/hour? Start charging $40 or even $50. Again, there’s no hard and set rule for how much you should charge. Just start tuning until you find a rate you’re happy with.
Step 5: Invest in yourself
Your goals are going to change once you learn how to start a business.
The best way to get started doing anything of that is to begin investing in yourself.
Now, one thing that you will find very common with people who have not taken the time to invest in themselves and learn how this stuff works is they will create what’s called levels of abstraction.
Another solid investment in yourself is learning the mindsets to tear down mental barriers stopping you from achieving your goals. With that, I want to address some of the most pervasive excuses to starting a business.