What If You Want To Start A Business In The Future?
Most people who look into being business-folks tend to be of the sort that wants quick millions and an easy life.
Most of those people don’t succeed. Business can be a long and slow slog.
Every so often though, someone asks a good question. These tend to be young folks who are still in school or college, thinking about starting a business when they finish.
Or it might be people who hate their job but recognise the paycheque is pretty useful for when it comes to not starving to death.
They’ll ask this good question.
“If I Want To Start A Business In The Future, What Should I Do Now?”
This is a great question because it shows long-term thinking and acknowledges that there’s work to be done.
This is a lot different to, “I just quit my job to be an entrepreneur! What should I learn to make quick money?”
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
(Side note: Saw something like that the other day. Might write an article on this another time.)
In this article, I’ll break down how I’d approach the question and all the various caveats. I’ll try and keep it straightforward.
Firstly: Don’t Quit Your Day Job Or Alter Your Course Without Good Reason
There are a lot of guru-bait peddlers out there who say “Look at Steve Jobs! He quit college to start Apple” or whatever.
There are a lot of people who’ll tell you that a 9-5 is for idiots and going to college will turn you into a drone with no brain that can only follow orders and live in a cubicle forever.
Incidentally, if you’re college-aged or otherwise considering higher education, then I’ll be writing an email about getting the most out of your education the super-secret-pirate-hacker-way this month, so get on the list if you’re not already.
By all means don’t go to college if you’re just going to dick around and get yourself in debt. By all means quit your job if you’re going to have a nervous breakdown because your boss is making you work hundred hour weeks.
But in all other cases, keep your business ideas as a long-term plan and keep working at your job/education/whatever.
The last thing you want is to end up with a failed business and nothing to fall back on. Keep your toes in the river until you have built up some momentum. We’ll talk about that later.
Build Skills For Business
Alright, so you’re a student or working your job. You want a business. Here’s what I recommend so far as moving forward is concerned.
Start learning about core business skills that you’ll need everywhere. These are not limited to but include:
- Basic sales stuff (like copywriting, general marketing, where to get in front of people)
- Basic accounting and bookkeeping (You don’t need to be an accredited accountant or anything, but you need to know about income and expenses)
- Customer service (Find some reason to help people and learn to keep a cool head when things go wrong)
- Order fulfilment (This is trickier – but sticking to a schedule and learning to deliver stuff is a key skill that nobody talks about)
You get the picture. These are pretty basic skills but honestly they make a difference. When I started out writing for a living, it wasn’t my devilish charisma or my powerful linguistics that won me clients.
It was the fact I showed up on time, did the work well, didn’t make a fuss and turned everything in way before schedule. You’d be surprised how those four things helped catapult me above the trillion other freelance writers out there.
Look At Your Interests And Where There Are Problems You Can Solve
A lot of people get caught up in the archetype of entrepreneurialism and think they have to create the next Google or massive enterprise that’ll change the world.
I’m not really interested in that sort of thing and I can’t help you with venture funding. What I can tell you though is that it’s much more realistic and profitable to think smaller.
Smaller doesn’t mean “less important.” It means that there are businesses out there which you can run without massive backing and bring into the world off your own back. Businesses which will also make you rich without being backed by a bunch of vultures.
Two examples: I know a cleaning guy. Started cleaning windows, now owns a company that provides domestic services to various public sector buildings.
Another example: A family acquaintance started as an apprentice digging ditches when he was sixteen. No qualifications, not some genius and no real financial backing. Started out at the bottom. Got full-time work. Branched off on his own. Hired a couple of guys. Then a couple more. Bought some heavy equipment. So on…
He recently had to have his garage expanded to bigger than the average house because he likes collecting Ferraris and doesn’t have the space for them.
Whatever your hobbies, interests or passions, there’ll be problems to solve and solutions to be found. Look out for these.
Start A Small Business Based On What You Find
You learn business by doing it. Most people’s first business doesn’t succeed. People worry about juggling commitments when they shouldn’t. It’s unlikely that your little business is going to expand to thousands of customers over night. It’s also unlikely that your first business is going to be a financial success.
But it’s important to get started, because you’ll learn all of the skills I mentioned above.
So you take an idea – let’s say it’s fixing people’s computers.
This is not likely to be a million-dollar idea. (Although, it might be.)
But you learn to put adverts in your local newspaper and go on Facebook groups.
You learn how to take an order. You learn how to deliver that order whilst building up your skill at fixing the computer.
Smile while you do it, even when some old lady has misplaced the “on” switch and there’s nothing wrong. Even when some dude tells you that he couldn’t possibly have gotten a virus from watching porn. Even when you have to tell someone “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do to fix this PC.”
All of these things add up. You look at what you never offer and what popular problems are. You expand or specialise.
Everything gets added together and you make money for learning.
This is the best education you can get, and it all adds up.
If you do the above and you treat it as an extra hobby for a couple of years, you’ll learn more than a million hopefuls who think they’re on the path to riches with their big idea for a “Facebook but better!”
Just doing the above, you’ll be able to spot opportunities, take advantage of them and provide great products or services that people want and need.
And really, that’s all there is to it.