I have wanted to have my own business since I was quite young. I started my first business while going to the University of Minnesota back in 1973. I started two other businesses before I finally started WyzGuys Computer and Network Support in 2001. 2001, for those of you who remember, was the LAST recession, the bursting of the Dot.Com bubble. I was one of the tens of thousands of technology professionals who got pink-slipped that year, and knew that I was not going to find a replacement job any time soon, so I did what any sensible person would do. I started a business. I started fixing computers.
As the economy turned around, I did manage to find a “real job” back in my industry. I kept my little business going on the side, which was a good thing because I was laid off from the “real job” in a little over a year. I accepted a couple more opportunities to work as an employee of another, and hated each new job more than the one before. Finally, I just quit. I decided I was done working for other people, and I have not looked back.
I look at the unemployment numbers and wonder why they are still so high. The reason is that people are waiting for jobs. Unfortunately, many people in America, especially those who were born here, and do not understand the difference between jobs and work. A job is something someone else has to create and hire you to fill. Jobs are scarce, and becoming more scarce with each recession.
People born elsewhere understand the difference. They flock here by the thousands every year, with a nickel in their pocket and the clothes on their back. They did not come looking for a job, they wanted to work and make money. And in five years they own a dry cleaners, or a restaurant, a cab, a lawn-care company, or some other booming little business that lets them feed their family and drive around town in pretty cool automobiles. The guy with the pickup truck and trailer full of lawn mowers? He probably made more money last year than you. A lot more.
Jobs are scarce. Work, on the other hand, is everywhere. Regardless of whether the economy is up or down, there is always plenty of work to do for anybody with the ability to see it, and the willingness to do it. Work that, yes, you can get paid to do. Work that other people do not want to do, or are unable to do themselves. Work they would willingly pay you to do.
So the question is: how do I start to produce an income of my own? How do I start a business? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- What kind of work do I like to do? Make as big a list as you can. You never know what might pop out. And not just things you did in jobs you had. Your answer may be somewhere completely new.
- What are you good at? These are not necessarily the same thing, but where they overlap you have opportunities.
- What kind of work do I like to do that other people don’t like to do, or find hard to do themselves. This is called identifying your market.
- What kinds of work are on this list that people would want you to do over and over again. Life is tougher for you if you do it once and have to find another customer. Look for something with some repeatability.
- What do people need you to do regardless of the economy? This is not always easy to find, but it does exist. Funeral parlors are pretty recession-proof, for instance. People die all the time. It’s not like they are saying, “I’ll die next year after the economy turns around.” As it turns out, the computer business is as well, because if your computer craps out, well you pretty much have to fix it, especially if your business depends on what information is in that computer.
Well, that’s a start. Of course there is more, but the first thing to do is find something you like to do, are good at, and people would willingly pay you to do for them. Then START DOING IT!! Too many people spend a bunch of time planning and never get around to executing. TRY IT! Be willing to make a mistake or two. Be ready for rejection, and expect your spouse and your family and friends to tell you how crazy you are. Maybe your first idea doesn’t pan out, try something else. Be open to serendipity and inspiration. Be persistent. Tell everyone you know what you are doing and ask them to help you find customers. Get paid on the spot whenever possible. Cash is great, but you will make more if you can take credit cards too. Ask your customers to recommend you to their friends and associates. It’s really not that hard.
And here are a couple of articles to help you get started. Mark Cuban, serial technology entrepreneur and sports team owner, in Entrepreneur magazine, on “The 12 Rules For Startups.” And from INC magazine, “What’s an Entrepreneur?”Share