My son decided to start a business this week. He likes gadgets, they cost money, and I’m not willing to spend my money on equipment that will be obsolete by the end of the week. He made the decision on Monday. Since then, he has:
1. Created business cards;
2. Created a website (see here);
3. Created an advertisement (see below);
3. Created a list of potential clients (aka prospects);
4. Started contacting his list of potential clients;
5. Secured his first three sales.
In the past month, I’ve talked to at least 20 other people who wanted to start their own businesses, but have not taken any steps to get started. I know others who have businesses, but treat them like hobbies. Sometimes, I treat my business like a hobby. Because I enjoy what I do, I almost feel guilty for getting paid to do it. If I didn’t have bills, I’d do most of what I do for free. In fact, I have.
Writers and artists have an especially hard time transitioning their talent and skills into their livelihood. We stop ourselves with excuses. We refuse to ask for the business, or we ask in such a timid manner that no one takes us seriously. But we seriously have to eat. We seriously have to have shelter. We seriously have to have the money to aid us in creating great memories for our kids. Living ain’t cheap, and while mo’ money may cause ‘mo problems, I can tell you first-hand that no money causes mo’ problems, too.
Watching my son push himself to achieve his goals this week allowed me to see a few things. One, he listens to me more than I listen to myself. Two, when people see that you take what you’re doing seriously, they will get onboard (for example, this is the second blog post that’s been written about him this week. The first is here.). Three, adults have created too many rules for business that confuse and confine us when the formula is simple.
Talk to potential investors and tell them what you’re willing to bring to the table. (My son asked me to print out his business cards and buy him a pack of DVDs. He found an old, forgotten box of business card paper, created his business cards, downloaded free versions of the software he needed to get started, and created a video of himself using his shower curtain as a green screen to show me that he could deliver exactly what he promised.) Make a list of prospects, then ASK them for their business. (My son has already figured out that if he gets a No, he needs to ask if that person knows of anyone who can use his services, and to still give his card to the person who said NO because they may become a YES in the future. Doing this has increased his initial prospect list of ten names threefold in less than a week in business.) Underpromise and over-deliver. (While negotiating his first deal, one thing he got right immediately was giving the client a timeline that enabled him to still have a life, get the project done to the best of his ability, and potentially complete in advance of the deadline.)
He likes the idea of being a millionaire by sixteen. I like the idea of being a millionaire by thirty-six. He’ll definitely reach his goals, and if I start working and stop making excuses, so will I.