Going solo – Starting a business by yourself

You want to be the boss.  Why else would you be starting a business?  You spent a year working on and refining the idea.  Hundreds of digital trees have died to provide you all the virtual paper used in your research and business plan.  You spent hours and hours in your basement making your product and it is ready to be released to the world?  “Welcome to my eStore!” you say.  Then… nothing… crickets… What happened?

Starting a business for fun and profit

Starting a business can be a great experience.  It is important to study and read everything you can on business, marketing, success, etc but no matter how much you study, no matter how much you read and plan, your business can still fail.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door”.  He was wrong.

A better mousetrap means nothing if the world does not know about it.  If customers need your product and is ready to buy, if they can’t find you, they can’t give you their money.  You need sales, marketing, fulfillment, finance, and a range of other jobs done.  If you are a perfect business person, an expert in all the disciplines of business, you are lucky person.  You are also imaginary.

The Know-it-all

No one knows it all.  You might be great at marketing but fail at running the business.  Sales may be a phobia of yours but you love accounting and product development.  Is starting a business even an option?  What steps need to be taken?  What can you do?

Superstar athletes have coaches.  They have teammates.  They realize that most people are good at some things and terrible at others.  If at all possible, these superstars will focus on what they do best and only work on other skills to a minimum level.  You don’t expect a professional football quarterback to practice being a lineman or major league baseball outfielder swapping out with the catcher.  We are all good at a limited number of things.  For the rest of the stuff we need to do, we need help.

Help comes in a variety of ways.  Athletic coaches help players excel.  Teammates support each other and work together to win the game or complete the goal.  What about in business?  Can we have teammates and coaches?  Yes, we can and should, not only when starting a business, but at other times as well.

Business coaches and your support team

We all need a group of people that support us in life and business.  For most of us, that group is friends and family.  When you mention that you are starting a business, many of those support people become less than supportive and may verge toward being downright mean.  Our friends and families are often not the best source for support and feedback in business.  If that is your situation, an online community may be the answer.  I found my online community at the Free Agent Academy.

An online community is a great place to connect with like minded people.  At the Free Agent Academy, there are hundreds of people that are all pursuing self-employment in various stages.  They offer classes that help you find your calling, determine how you are wired and interact with the world, develop your idea, craft your brand, and many others.  These classes are life changing.  What happens if you have a great idea but it is not in line with your calling?  You will tend to lose interest and the world will lose out on the greatness you could provide.  Do you know how you interact with the world?  You need to if you are going to run your own business.  How about having a formula to evaluate ideas so at a glance, you can determine if you need to go further.  Do you even know who your idea customer is (and don’t say everyone; if you try to make everyone happy, no one will be happy).  You should not even consider starting a business unless you can answer most if not all of those questions.  If you can’t, get help.

The classes are amazing and on top of that, you have access to a community of people that are in the same boat you are.  Some are further along and some are just starting out.  The community is supportive and helpful, willing to work through an idea with you and provide comments and feedback.  It is a great place to plug in.

Where’s the coach?

Online communities not your style?  Still want to go it solo?  Consider hiring a coach.  As I said, even professional athletes have coaches.  We need someone objective that is invested in our success to help us improve.  A coach can do that.  There are many coaches out there that will help you along your journey toward starting a business.  How do you pick the right one?

Getting to know a coach before you work with them is important.  You would not pick a sports coach without talking to him or her and getting some idea of their style.  Same thing with a business coach.  Websites are a great way to learn about a person, but audio and video often provide greater insight.  One of my personal favorites is Justin Lukasavige at CoachRadio.tv.  His podcasts are amazing and numerous.  Every other episode is a “Your Story” that discusses someone starting a business and the process they went through and are going through now.  I started at the first one and have been listening for months.  It will still take a few more months to get up-to-date with his newest podcasts.  I can’t wait.

Starting a business on your own is possible, but why take that much of a risk.  Even with a coach and a group of supportive people around you,starting a business will still be difficult.  An online community like the Free Agent Academy will not only help you to learn about starting a business, but also help you develop your idea and get the business off the ground.  You will find members that are willing and able to work with you in the areas where they are experts and you are not.  If you decide that having a business coach is more your style, there are many to choose from and some may be closer than you think.  Look around, do some research, get moving.  Starting a business is hard work, but it is like nothing else.  Try it.

To give your business the best chance, consider hiring a coach, joining an online community, or both.  You’ll be glad you did.

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