Once you have chosen a blueprint, this is what you need to to next:
Spend a few days reading everything you possibly can about your chosen business option, so you have a thorough understanding of what is required and what it takes to succeed.
Write a Business Plan
Next, you need to write a basic business plan. Rather than running blindly and hoping for the best, set some clear goals and timelines and adjust along the way as needed.
Start by writing out what your goals are:
- What level of income are you looking for?
- How much time can you invest each week?
- What skills do you need to learn?
- How will you learn them? And how long will it take you?
- Is a financial investment required? If so how much and how will you generate that start-up fund?
- Lay out a time line. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure, just try your best and put something on paper. You can always adjust along the way.
Your progress will be very different when you know exactly where you are going and how you plan to get there, rather than just starting “somewhere” and hoping it will “somehow” happen.
Keep reviewing that plan each week and make adjustments.
Set reasonable expectations in the beginning and work out a clear action plan on how you can meet those expectations.
If you are aiming for an extra $1000 per month, figure out how many hours of freelance work you will have to perform per month, or how many products you would have to sell each month to reach that number.
Then, break it down per day and you will have a much clearer path to reaching your goal.
Let’s say you want to start a freelance business as a Virtual Assistant. You do your research and learn everything you possibly can about what it takes to become successful in that field. If you did your homework, you will know what a reasonable starter rate will be.
Let’s choose $25/hour for this example.
If you want to make an extra $1000 per month, you would need to get at least 40 hours worth of paid VA time to reach that number (and that is not including taxes).
40 hours per month would be 10 hours per week => 2 hours per day.
Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so impossible anymore, right….?
From your research - and training - you would also have a good idea of how you can acquire enough clients and gigs to get those 40 hours per month and from there, you can structure a suitable marketing campaign for your freelance business.
See how this is very different from just putting up a listing on Upwork and hope that somehow you will make a few extra bucks?
A successful business starts with:
1) Thorough research to find a profitable sub niche and understanding who your audience is.
2) Next, a detailed action plan - and finally:
3) Taking action!
Learn from the Best
If you want to greatly speed up the process, learn from an entrepreneur in your field who has been very successful. That’s the short cut! Rather than re-inventing the wheel, trying things that won’t work and spending months and years finding a way that does works, simply follow the lead of someone who has already figured it all out.
In other words, invest in good training!
In a number of cases, I’m linking to excellent courses and training resources - all run by successful entrepreneurs, not theorists. Most of these courses are very inexpensive, but will make your progress so much easier!
Plus, you can ask questions and usually join a community (Facebook group, etc.) of fellow newbie entrepreneurs for mutual support and networking.
So whenever there is a link on a Business idea, check it out for further training.
The planning and research phase also includes finding a profitable sub niche and narrowing down your specific audience.
You will have much greater success in a very specialized sub niche that you master. Where you eventually become the go-to person for that niche - rather than being a jack of all trades.
People love to hire specialists - and buy specialty products - so spend time on researching that part thoroughly. It will be one of the most important decisions in your business and will have great influence on your success.
Research online and find out what areas are already over-saturated vs. areas that pose a great need. Pick those sub niches and specialize there. Just make sure there is enough interest (=potential customers and clients).
The same goes for products. Rather than having a cat store on Spotify, offer something very specific within the cat niche. Maybe just cat necklaces and ornaments. Or Cat merchandise for a specific breed. For dogs, pugs are a big, successful sub niche, just as an example.
This research might take a few days, or even a week - but it will make a tremendous difference in your long term success, so really spend time on this and remain flexible along the way. You may have to adjust or fine tune (and that’s part of the fun of being an entrepreneur…;-)
Your Ideal Customer
Once you find your sub niche, define your ideal customer/client.
Really write out a “bio” of the most typical prototype in your audience. From your prior research, you should have a pretty good idea who your audience is, but now clearly define and write it down.
Demographics, age group, gender, financial and professional background etc.
Once you have defined your specific “avatar”, tailor your marketing to that person. Really “speak” to them.
Again I am using the word “specific” as that is one of the most important ingredients for entrepreneurial success.
Define your UVP (= "Unique Value Proposition")
This is another important piece in your business plan.
What is it that makes your service or product unique?
Why should people come to you, instead of the millions of others with similar propositions.
Define this from the standpoint of the buyer/client.
What’s in it for them?
The more specific and convincing you can answer that question, the more successful you will be.
Your buyers/clients are not interested in a list of features - e.g., in your product/service, but only in what it does for them. How it improves their lives and solves their problems and frustrations.
How will their lives be different if they buy your products or use your service.
Focus on them - and what benefits you can provide to them - and then over-deliver!
Run a Referral Business
For freelancing, you could also outsource most of the work and run a referral service, instead of being the hamster in the wheel. You land the gigs, then pass them on to other freelancers at a slightly lesser rate and everybody wins.
You still supervise and approve the final results, and you are the main contact for the client, but you don’t actually do the work. Instead, you focus on marketing and landing ever more gigs, constantly increasing your earnings while working less.
Just a thought…..
Now.... take a deep breath...;-) - and then TAKE ACTION!
I wish you good luck and feel free to ask questions, if you feel stuck.
All the very best,