If you have never started a business before, the idea of it can seem daunting. If you have started a business, you begin to notice it’s harder to stay away from new business ideas than it is starting them.
Some people completely new to entrepreneurship want to go and create the next Facebook (not happening). Then when they start to realize how much it’s going to cost them and how much work they have to do, they understandably shy away.
The key is to not bite off more than you can chew. As you get your first business profitable with systems in place, then you can move on to a bigger challenge.
There are three types of businesses which are fairly easy to get off the ground. I’m going to go in the order I’d recommend, but really you can start with any one of the three.
- Start with an Infoproduct
These used to get a bad rap, but they are making a comeback. If you aren’t sure of a topic that you can create an infoproduct for, here’s a tip:
You know more about something than someone else.
Take a passion or use your work experience and write about it. Or do what Ryan Battles did and learn a topic you know you need to learn and then write a book that covers everything you learned.
My first business was a website development and marketing service which later turned into an agency. I knew how to put together websites, and I was just diving into WordPress at the time. In addition, I taught myself SEO as I was getting this request more and more.
If you don’t have any marketable skills right now, get them. Teach yourself something and understand it fully.
You could try by learning a piece of software that many might feel is complicated, and then help companies to use it. SalesForce or Infusionsoft are a couple that come to mind that companies need help with. For example, Jake Hower of Incresio has built a business doing marketing automation consulting.
Ideally, find an up and coming piece of software that is gaining traction and align yourself that way.
- Productized Services
My latest startup is LeadFuze, a productized service that marries a couple pieces of software with a service. It’s a relatively new business, but I’ve been able to bring on a CTO who will be getting those two pieces of software to communicate with one another.
It doesn’t have to be software based, this is just an example of what I did. It could be bookkeeping. Make this process simple, repeatable, and affordable for a business and you’ll have a customer for life!
There’s a course by Brian Casel called Productize, which will help you productize a service. In fact, he has his own productized service called Restaurant Engine, where he has a scalable web development process in place.
The key is making sure your processes can be repeated consistently and that you can make them happen as quickly as possible so that it remains profitable for you. Your long term goal should be to replace yourself from the business and leave it with a team that can execute things.
Beyond Your First Business
No one said the business you start is going to be the business you do for the rest of your life. You should always be looking for the next challenge. Your first business should be a great learning experience that you can take with you for future endeavors.
It could mean a larger software product, it could be a different kind of business venture entirely.
Once you have your existing business running efficiently, then you can look to branch out into other ideas.
I built up a seven figure marketing agency, then decided to jump straight into Software as a Service (SaaS). During this time I was writing a book (Self Made Marketer), then just randomly I decided to launch a productized service.
So I didn’t necessarily follow the plan I outlined above, but if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have invested the $50k and 10 months into Workado that I did in order to get it launched when I did. I would have done a lot of things differently with that, but that’s another blog post.
Listen to this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, where hosts Rob Walling and Mike Taber talk about taking a stair step approach to business. Rob started off with an infoproduct on how to build a duck hunting boat and now has one of the latest up and coming software products (Drip) on the market today.
What’s holding you back? Have other advice you’d like to share? Discuss it in the comments below!