Are You… or do You Wanna Be… In Business for Yourself?
By nineteen years of age, I had come up with an idea that saved the computer company I was working for thousands of man-hours and dollars. I got zero compensation and even less recognition for my contribution. Meaning that someone in management levels above me swiped the idea and presented it as his own. To cope with my general disdain for ‘working for the MAN’, I learned some principles of entrepreneurship and became my own boss very early on. I’ve used these principles over and over to start, grow, and most importantly, scale a number of different ‘Biznesses’.
The biggest obstacle to most folks’ success in business isn’t a lack of capital, it’s a lack of courage, sustainable motivation and knowhow. Shoestring101 is meant to give fledgling business (‘Bizness’) owners BOTH motivation and knowhow so that they don’t run out of the capital!
Right now this list of Business Principles is published as-is. But come back soon, as I’ll be linking to more articles both on this site and on others to give a fuller dimension of each Principle.
Oh, and be sure to add your comments below, along with any request for any Bizness topic that interests you. I promise that if I don’t have the answers I’ll find ’em for you!
Ten Principles of a Shoestring101 “Bizness”
Is your “Bizness” on track to earn you Five Figures per month? Are you doing well in some areas but having challenges in others? Check this list below, and if you’re into it, click the links for other articles in the same vein.
Principle 1: PASSION. Choose a field in which you’d be willing to work for free… that you’re so enthusiastic, you’d even pay to do. Because you will be working for free or cheap. At least for a while.
It’s so overused and cliche by now: “Take your passion… and CASH-in!”
But no one seems to address WHY it’s important to structure a Bizness around what you know and love. It’s because you’re more likely to carry on getting paid peanuts or less for lots of time invested… until that ‘critical mass’ phenomenon sets in and you get paid a lot for a little time invested. That stretch in between would seem unbearable if you weren’t passionate about your work in the first place.
Principle 2: DON’T LIVE ON YOUR PROFITS UNTIL YOU SCALE. Every millionaire I’ve ever met that owned their Bizness (instead of it owning them) built it by hustling. They always had another source of income and used that to live on… while building an empire on the side. To build their Bizness, they used the time that they made after the bills were paid. So don’t quit your day job. Yet.
Principle 3: SELF-FUND AND STAY LEAN. Don’t take loans, partner with folks that may not share your vision, or gamble your savings to buy the latest thing you think is gonna grow your Bizness. Make money from your Bizness to put back into your Bizness. Even when you can afford to spend more, spend less if you can.
Principle 4: DON’T BE A CHEAPASS. Okay, so I just said not to spend if you can help it. After all, that’s what doing Bizness on a Shoestring is all about. BUT..! Sometimes it will be important to reinvest a substantial amount back into your Bizness to grow it. If you’ve followed the previous Principles you should have cash in hand. Don’t be afraid, just do it. Just make sure you get every cent of value that you’re paying for.
Principle 5: FIND YOUR TARGET MARKET, THEN PRODUCE A PRODUCT. So many folks get this bass-ackwards. They spend countless hours, energy, and money cobbling together a product, then try and find someone to market it to. The best products and services come from someone that’s trying to solve a problem for themselves… then they can share that solution with others like them. We all have interests, hobbies, and values. When we connect with others that have the same problems, and can share a solution… we’re very very close to a product that sells.
Principle 6: IDENTIFY WITH YOUR TARGET MARKET. Notice I said, “identify with“. It’s hard to get people to know, like, and trust you if you don’t share their values. The other day I finished a bottle of organic, grass-fed cow milk and went to throw the bottle in my recycling bin… only to find that it was being sold in a non-recyclable container. I mean, WTF..? Seriously. Why on Earth would you sell a product that appeals largely to tree-hugging dirt-worshipers in a container that won’t biodegrade for a hundred years? Dipsticks.
Principle 7: CREATE VALUE. I was in the store with my son the other day as he picked up a Gatorade on sale. It was ‘only’ $1 for a 32 oz. bottle. I said, “Let’s do some math… how much would a gallon cost at that price?” He correctly came up with the figure of $4 per gallon. Then I pointed out that his drink costs more (at least TODAY) than gasoline. For crying out loud! Taking water and adding a few chemicals and corn syrup, Gatorade would charge more for their product on sale than we pay for gas. And they were getting it! Point is, you can create something with very little overhead and get lots of cash for it. Value is something that human beings can create at will, because we all know or have something that others want but don’t know or have. Simple.
Principle 8: WHAT’S NEW IS OLD. Keyword testing. Data mining. Squeeze pages with video. SEO. Google Analytics. All just ducky, but the principles underlying these technologies and trends were being practiced in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward. He broke away from the sticks-and-bricks general store. Ward’s idea was to cultivate customer loyalty by serving a targeted list of mail-order buyers. He read their letters and changed his inventory and delivery according to what his market was looking for. His Bizness was successful because of principles that still work today. Rather than always looking for the newest internet tools… master the underlying principles that make ’em work.
Principle 9: MEASURE EVERYTHING. Long before the internet, I measured every step in the marketing funnel for my martial arts studio. How many phone calls I got from a particular piece of advertising, and how much that method cost. How many calls turned into appointments, appointments ended up enrolling Students, and so on. Numbers don’t lie and they tell you where the holes in the bucket are. I never broke five figures per month in income until I started observing this principle… and measuring and tweaking everything. You won’t have fabulous success with any business until you do the same.
Principle 10: THINK ABOUT SCALING NOW. Before you begin your fledgling Shoestring101 ‘Bizness’, or let it grow too big… build it on a model that doesn’t always have to depend on you to run it. At one point you’ll want that four hour workweek. Own your Bizness, as opposed to it owning you. Document procedures, client lists, to-do checklists… so you’re not constantly reinventing the wheel. Learn to delegate and outsource the work so that later on, you can replace yourself… and experience some of those four-hour workweeks.
Tell Me What You Think, Tell Me What You Need
Hey, please take a minute below and let me know what you think of this post. What you think is true. What you think is bull-honky. What I’ve left off the list. What’s important to YOU.
For me, the last principle is very important to observe. A very good friend of mine said that if you think you own your business, then don’t show up for two weeks. If you own it, it’ll still be there and making you more money than when you left! Most small business owners get a cold sweat when I suggest this. But it’s a good test of whether you are running a Shoestring101 “Bizness” or just a plain vanilla business. Lots of times a man or woman starts up a business, thinking that being their own boss will solve every problem… then they find out what a tyrannical master an (improperly set up) small business can be to serve.
BUT..! If you set up your ‘Bizness’ the way that you should, it becomes a money-crankin machine that needs just an occasional tweak and TLC for maintenance.
Okay Steppers! Sound off below! I want to hear how crazy you think I am, what belongs on the list that I missed… or just say howdy.