Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist and speaker. Her work has appeared in FORTUNE, Money, CNBC, Inc., Forbes, Crain’s New York Business and is the author of her latest book "The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business."
All of the entrepreneurs in my book have taken different routes.
One way to go about finding a business idea is doing low-risk experiments. I just did a story on Forbes about a young entrepreneur who is was in medical school in Arizona, and Arizona who wanted to do a side business. Because she always liked the design, she designed a single bikini.
Through her research skills she called a lot of factories in China and found one that would make one sample of the bikini. She bought a $5 Facebook ad and one woman bought it.
Later, about 100 women ordered her bikinis and placed pre-orders. By then she knew there was an interest for her bikini. At this stage she went back to the factory and asked for a larger batch of orders for her bikini.
If you feel you don’t have startup capital, start small. Sometimes things will resonate with people the way you’d planned and other times you’ll get a different reaction.
Entrepreneurs should have a judgment call with their budget since this will vary in different circumstances.
I believe it’s important that you always pay the people you hire on time and treat them with the same respect you’d want for your clients. In the early stages of your business, you won’t be able to outsource most of your tasks since your business will be generating little to no income. But, by doing most of the tasks for your business you’ll appreciate your end-to-end processes when you outsource them.
Many entrepreneurs find things like bookkeeping piles up because they’re too busy performing other work for their business. Outsourcing these types of tasks isn’t too expensive. Once you’re having a hard time managing it on your own start outsourcing these tasks first.
It starts with first knowing what you want out of life.
An exercise you can practice is looking back at your life from age 80 or 90. From this age ask yourself what would you have wanted to happen?
Maybe you’d want to have time to go mountain climbing but you’d first have to set time aside to do this exercise. Realistically you can’t do 50 things at once. So, after you’re done your exercise narrow down your goals into 3-4 main ones.
You don’t have to lock in the goals you set today forever. Revise them as many times as you want.
When you’re in the pre-making money phase, set a limit of six months.
If you’re still not making money after six months from an idea, maybe you’re going down the wrong path. Or, you may need patience since your business model will take a while to generate income.
Generating income from a busines will vary by the individual and indsutry.
I would probably be working on my next book and wish I’d started sooner with writing them.
Realize that you’re not alone.
Close to half of the American public has not been able to save $400 for an emergency, according to the Federal Reserve’s research. I recently came across an interesting book called Get Rich, Lucky Bitch. This book included an exercise in creating a chart where you’d list the money coming in and out of your life.
This exercise does make you a lot more conscious about your cash flow. This exercise alone can help anyone start making better financial decisions.
Money is important for the sake of my family.
I want to make sure my kids have a secure place to live and always have food in the refrigerator. It’s funny for someone who wrote the million-dollar one-person business, but I don’t aspire to be wealthy. For some people this is their dream, but it’s not mine.
I really just love having time with my family, and being able to spend as much of my time with them as possible. Money gives me the freedom to do this.
Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.