8 Tips to Help You Be Your Own Boss
By Tamara Monosoff
1. Take a stand for yourself. If you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances no one will fix them – except for you. It doesn’t do any good to blame the economy, your boss, spouse or family. Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen.
2. Figure out the “right” business for you. Give yourself permission to explore. Be willing to look at different facets of yourself: your personality, social styles, age, and listen to your intuition which we tend to ignore even though deep down we often know the truth. Ask yourself, “What gives me energy even when I’m tired?”
How do you know what business is “right” for you? There are three common approaches to entrepreneurship:
• Do what you know. Have you been laid off or want a change? Look at what work you have performed in the past for others and think about how you could package those skills and offer them as your own services or products.
• Do what others do. Learn about other businesses that interest you. Once you have identified a business you like – emulate it.
• Solve a common everyday problem. Is there a gap in the market? Is there a service or product you would like to bring to market? (Note: this is the highest risk of the three approaches). If you choose to do this, make sure that you become a student and gain knowledge first before you spend any money.
3. Business planning improves your chances for success. Most people don’t plan but it will help you get to market faster. A business plan will help you gain clarity, focus, and confidence. A plan does not need to be more than one page; and, as you write down your goals, strategies and action steps – your business becomes real.
Ask yourself the following questions:
• What am I building?
• Who am I in service of?
• What is the promise I am making to my customers/clients and to myself?
• What are my objectives, strategies and action plans (steps) to achieve my goals?
4. Know who will buy your product or service before you spend a penny. Before you spend money, find out if people will actually buy your products or services first. This may be the most important thing you do! You can do this by validating your market. In other words, who exactly will buy your products or services other than your family or friends? What is the size of your target market? Who are your customers? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?
There is industry research available that you can uncover for free. Read industry articles with data, Google the relevant industry associations and read Census data to learn more. However, the most important way to get this information is to ask your target market directly and then listen.
5. All money is not equal. Know what the “right” kind of money you need for your business. As you are creating your business plan you will need to consider what type of business you are building – a lifestyle business (smaller amount of startup funds), a franchise (moderate investment depending on the franchise), a high tech business (will require significant capital investment). Depending on where you fall on the continuum you will need a different amount of money to launch and grow your business and it does matter what kind of money you accept. Some other resources include Peer-to-Peer lending, Grants, Angel Groups, Bank Loans, and information about Venture Capital Groups.
6. Build a support network. You’ve made the internal commitment to your business. Now you need to cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies, and vendors. If you believe in your business, others will too! Network locally, nationally & via Social Networks. Join networks like NAPW.com, your local Chamber of Commerce, or other relevant business groups.
Here are some networking basics:
• When attending networking events ask others about what they do and think about how you can help them. The key is to listen more than tout yourself.
• No matter what group you join, be generous, help others and make introductions without charging them.
• By becoming a generous leader, you will be the first person that comes to mind when someone that you’ve helped needs your service or hears of someone else that needs your service.
7. Sell by creating value. Even though we purchase products and services every day, people don’t want to be “sold”. Focus on being in service to others. The more people you serve, the more money you will make. When considering your customers or clients ask yourself:
• What do I “like” about them?
• What can I give them?
• How can I make them successful in their own pursuits?
This approach can help lead you to new ways to hone your product or service and deliver more value which your customers will appreciate.
8. Get the word out. Be willing to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology! Embrace and use the most effective online tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) available to broadcast your news. Use Social Networks as pointer sites. For example, to point to anything that you think will be of interest to your fans and followers.
Even though social networks are essential today, don’t underestimate the power of other methods to get the word out, like word-of-mouth marketing, website & internet marketing tools, public relations, blog posts, columns & articles, speeches, email, newsletters, and the old-fashioned but still essential… telephone!
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