Follow this guideline to help you get started and stay the course
Got a multi-million dollar idea but not sure where to start?
We fall into the trap of thinking it will take too long. And while Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor shall your business be, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we think.
Starting a business can be super overwhelming. I can attest to that. I’ve founded five companies. Each has had its own challenges and rewards, but there are common threads that I’ve learned can apply to just about any business, no matter what.
It’s a basic formula I follow that helps me launch every time.
The fact that there are really only three steps to take might make the hustle culture laugh. It also shows that you could be wasting your time doing a bunch of stuff you don’t need to.
Full disclosure: Each step does take work. I don’t want you to think starting, operating, and growing a business is a walk in the park. There are plenty of ups and downs, but if you follow this guideline, you will be better able to get started and stay the course.
Be it an online course, eBook, 1:1 coaching program, or done-for-you service, you need to build the offer.
This offer doesn’t have to be your main passion or something you will do for the rest of your life. It’s something you want to do right now because it solves a problem with which you see people struggling, and you want to get your business off the ground. You see a gap that needs to be filled, and you’re just the person to fill it.
For example, when I got started in tech PR, I wasn’t crazy passionate about technology, but it was the dot-com boom, and startups wanted to get their name and product in the press. I saw an opportunity where I could help companies grow, make money, and make a decent income myself.
Then the bubble burst. I was out of a job, so I started my own tech PR company in 2002. People thought I was crazy starting a communications company focused on a sector that had just crashed and burned.
Here’s the lesson: When markets are down, there is a tremendous opportunity to serve those markets. It’s been destroyed. You can be a part of the rebuilding process. Bodies are always needed. Start building.
Now you have the thing you’re building, it’s time to start getting the word out. You don’t have to complete it before marketing it. More on that later.
You can start with teasers and “COMING SOON” content on social media to drive interest and gather email addresses from potential buyers. This email collection initiative will also help you build your email list.
I recommend you start getting the word out 21-days before the launch, but you can give it a longer runway if you are starting from scratch audience-wise. Don’t give it too long of a runway, though. People get bored and tune out easily.
Do a gradual build with posts and emails increasing in frequency as you get closer to launch.
Ok, so you got the word out. People are interested and replying “tell me more” to your CTA or prompt about your shiny new product or service. Now it’s time to sell the damned thing.
You can do this in one of two ways:
- If it’s a sub $999 service, you can probably get away with setting up a landing page with a payment link. Connecting your PayPal is easy, especially if you create a PayPal.Me link and have a direct payment URL. I’ve seen some entrepreneurs get away with this at the sub $2,299 level, but they typically have a big following and have established trust with their audience.
- Sales calls. This will be mandatory if you’re selling a high-ticket item. People aren’t going to throw thousands of dollars at your new product without getting to know you first. You’ll have to get on the phone with your client prospect and personally sell them your new product or service.
I started marketing “Morning Manifesto,” the weekly planner and gratitude journal I wrote and self-published before it was ever completed. It sold out before it was sent to the printer. Mind you, I don’t have a huge audience.
I posted it on my social media pages, sent emails out to my tiny list, and personally contacted friends and family members. I also created a Facebook event and engaged my audience, so they would invite their friends and connections to join. I turned it into a party that everyone wanted to attend.
You don’t have to have the cake fully baked in order to sell it. You can sell it, then bake it.
For example, if you are creating an online course, you only need a landing page with course information to start marketing it. This will help you gauge interest, and you don’t end up spinning your wheels and precious time building an entire course if people aren’t interested in buying it.
Once you have enough paying customers, complete the first module. Set it up as a drip feed and work on each subsequent module as your students go along. For example, work on week two while they are on week one, then “unlock” week two at the scheduled time. Build week three while they are working week two.
These items listed below are nice to have, but you don’t need them to launch. Believing you do will only create overwhelm and stuckness.
- Funnel — You don’t need one to sell anything. I’ve generated over a million dollars in revenue without a single funnel. Heck, they didn’t even exist when I started my PR company. It’s nice to have once you have a bunch of products at different price points so you can upsell or down-sell, but you don’t need one to launch.
- Website — Not necessary to start building, marketing, and selling. Set up a simple landing page with information, a “Tell Me More” button, and a “Buy Now” button, depending upon the price point.
- Huge following — Also not necessary. Leverage the audience you have and build from there.
- Glossy headshots and photos — Take a few selfies and use stock photos instead.
- A huge portfolio of Reels and videos — Nope, you don’t need it to sell your idea. If you feel you must, then do some Facebook Lives.
- Testimonials — No testimonials? No problem! There are plenty of things you can do to earn trust. When I started my PR company, I only had my previous employer as a reference. That didn’t stop me. I believed in myself, worked my ass off, proved myself, built great relationships with the media, got results, and voila!
Keep in mind: These entrepreneurs, with all the stuff you think you need to launch, have a team of people working for them. They have writers, social media people, camera people, a sales and marketing team, a production studio, a personal assistant, etc.
Don’t get caught up in shiny object syndrome. They’ve been at it for years. You can certainly get there, but don’t let the fact that you don’t have all that right now stop or scare you. You have something that will solve a problem. That’s really all you need to get started.
Just start building, get the word out, and sell your thing — whatever it is. Keep building upon it with the next thing, and so on.
Don’t get caught up and intimidated by what others are doing. Your competition isn’t other people. Your biggest competitor is your belief in yourself and your mindset.
The easier you make starting your business in your mind, the easier it will be to turn your business idea into reality.