Like entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau says, for every self-employed person out there, there’s more than a handful of “wantrepreneurs” out there, many of whom have no idea where to find the time to start a business while working full-time.
The problem with finding the right time to start a business is the same as with anything else on your bucket list; there’s never a perfect time, and that convenient career break probably isn’t around the corner. Why not start the business now, without taking a leave of absence or leaving the security of your job?
Maintaining a source of income maintains security, but you create even more security by creating a new source of income , reducing the dependency on an employer. This also creates opportunity, earning you the money to experiment with bigger businesses, potentially leading to true independence and freedom in the long haul.
In other words, there’s no reason to dive headfirst into business ownership by quitting your job right away. If you’re unable to afford the capital to start your initial foray into business, a car title loan is a fast, no-credit means of getting some money based on the value of your car.
- Find your idea
Before you actually get started, your primary goal is to find the right idea that will generate money without much effort, a concept New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss calls a muse. Write down any ideas you can think of about what people might be willing to pay for.
Having trouble? Try the following exercises:
- Check Amazon’s top sellers. This is a good source on what guaranteed customers want, which can help generate ideas of your own.
- What do you do everyday? Whatever you do for convenience more than one time could serve as a business model.
- Pay attention to your common complaints. Similar to the above, whatever problem you regularly have is something that others probably do as well.
- Browse completed eBay listings. Like with Amazon, you’ll get to learn what customers are looking to buy and how much they’re willing to pay for it.
- Check recurring Craigslist themes. Craigslist displays listings from people who actively require certain types of skills and are willing to pay a certain amount to get it done. Look for certain keywords and look at how many results appear, evaluating the requests and seeing whether a common theme comes up worth investing in.
- Find customers
Once you’ve found your million-dollar idea, the next step is to test out the market before using up any of your starting capital. For this part, it’s important to make sure that the market isn’t actively going down in demand.
There are several methods possible to conduct this step depending on the ideas you come up with. For example, marketers will especially want to pay attention to the search tools offered by Google Insights, Google Trends and Facebook ads.
- Validate your ideas
By this point, you likely have one or two ideas that show promise for lots of customers. However, there’s still one key thing to consider: How much are they worth? In other words, are they worth investing in? This is very important; while an idea may look great on paper, it’s worthless if people aren’t actually willing to pay.
The following are a few simple ways to quickly validate a test product without spending money or quitting your job:
- Make a sales page. Using WordPress or Unbounce, make a sales page and have a few cheap adverts point to it on Facebook or Google. Wait for the ads to play out and see how many email addresses you collected compared to how many people clicked the ad. The goal isn’t to sell, but to determine interest.
- Email interested folks and request payment. Sounds counter-intuitive without a product in hand, but it’s the best way to see who is willing to pay. If they send money, then you have all the validation you need to build those products and more of them. If they’re unwilling, survey them and ask what turned them off. Remember, the goal at this stage is to gain validation, not to steal money.
If your first idea doesn’t take off, test out your plan with the next idea you have while enjoying the security of your main 9-to-5 job.