There’s an old saying that goes, “It takes a million to make a million.” That may be true for some people, but for many men and women who have a great business idea, making it pay means having grit, determination, creativity, and a willingness to hustle. Quitting a comfortable job or leaving school early to pursue a dream represents a significant leap of faith, and it takes guts. Presumably, if you’re willing to do that, you’re also willing to see it through the tough times. That’s admirable, but it’s not easy. Be ready to roll up your sleeves and get your fingernails dirty.
There’s another saying which states that when starting a new venture, you should be prepared to make less money than you did in your previous job for at least 1,000 days. As with many sayings, there’s usually a way around that, and this is where the hustle comes in. If you’re willing to take on a side gig, there’s no reason you should have to scrape by while hustling to get your business venture off the ground. However, don’t take on a gig that’s going to drain you of energy and focus. It should be one with little experience required, minimal training, and which doesn’t demand a great deal of physical and mental energy.
Consider doing contract work that’s in line with your background and skill set. There are many opportunities to be found on the internet. For example, if you have a background in writing or communication, you might consider working as a freelance writer for a content marketing website. Marketing organizations make frequent use of focus groups, often online, which can provide a reasonable source of income, if not always a steady one. And it’s something you can do on your own time. Whatever you choose, it should be a role you’re perfectly comfortable stepping into for a brief time. Gigster, Croogster, and Aquent are just a few of the many sites that connect freelancers with organizations and individuals seeking contractors.
Finding Your Niche Market
While you’re making ends meet, think through a few basic questions that can help identify a niche market for your startup. For example, in what way can your business help others resolve their problems? These are problems your prospective customers are experiencing and for which they have no immediate remedy. Do plenty of research online to identify potential issues and opportunities. This is where you should expend that mental energy and utilize your expertise. Spend plenty of time researching the competition to compare your vision to theirs, get a feel for your customer base, and find opportunities to offer something that they don’t or can’t. Also, research the particulars of your target market. Learn their buying habits and preferences to gain some idea of how lucrative a market your prospective customers represent.
Ideas for the Long Term
The gig and sharing economies have opened up a vast new landscape of business opportunities aimed at filling more niches than ever before. Try to fashion your startup around a sustainable business idea, one that’s popular and can stand the test of time. For example, two startup business ideas that are growing in popularity are phone cases and wireless earphones, both of which are desirable and convenient product offerings that show no sign of slowing down. Other popular items include selfie drones and smartwatches.
The business environment is undergoing an exciting transformation, one that will benefit many people who had consigned themselves to decades of working for the same company. New market opportunities present themselves all the time. Taking advantage requires fortitude and self-sacrifice, but many individuals are enjoying the fruits of that hard work every day.
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I like the advice about having a side job while still keeping it relevant to your business. I still have a lot to learn about how to run a business before I can start my own and I’ll obviously have to have a different job before I have a successful business but it is crucial to stay focused on the long term goal.
It seems that so many entrepreneurs assume they can set out on their own with an idea and the assumption they will instantly be a success. I have watched as many small businesses in my town open up and close within their first six months because the owner did not do their market research or put in the hours it takes to spread the word and build the business. The frustrating part is that when they do fail they always have some one or something external to blame. Had they written a business and/or marketing plan before opening I feel they would have a much better idea of what needs to be done. Setting goals and finding ways to fill in the “how” helps bring focus and goals to your idea and makes success much more likely.
Thank you for a very insightful article.