Most entrepreneurs can remember the moment the idea for their business was born. Perhaps they had been mulling over a concept for years, when suddenly something clicked one day and their dream became a reality.
For me, my ghostwriting career began when my first client called me out of the blue, having been referred to me by a friend of a friend. I went from being a writer to a ghostwriter in a flash. That was ten years ago.
You know that feeling, the elation you get when you hit upon that kernel of an idea for a new business. It’s amazing! Your adrenaline pumps and you see your whole future life flash before your eyes, like the Big Bang.
Congratulations! That needs to be said. It is no small feat.
The decision to start a business is only the first step of a valid business plan. Keep firm to your resolve. Doubts and advice from naysayers act like mold in a piece of fruit. Keep the concept fresh and vibrant, free from fungus.
Let’s explore what comes next.
What is your core idea?
Now it is time to take that inspirational kernel and flesh it out into a full business plan. The burst of joy from the moment of creativity starts the momentum, now you must keep it going.
Write down your ideas
If you’re anything like me, thoughts can come flooding at any moment. It’s easy to lose ideas if you don’t write them down. Don’t edit yourself, just jot down everything that comes to mind. No concept is too silly. Remember no one else needs to look at your idea notebook.
Find others in your chosen industry and interview them
Most successful business people love to help fellow entrepreneurs. They are rarely worried about competition. (If they are, move on. They probably aren’t as successful as you think.) Invite them out to lunch and talk to them, ask questions and listen. Find out what roadblocks they encountered. What would they do differently today if they could? Which activities worked best?
Do you really want a partner?
Do not rush to ask your best friend or sibling if he or she wants to join you in your new venture. Once you make the offer to share in the spoils it is hard to rescind. Just because you enjoy playing pool with George on Friday nights doesn’t mean he will be an ideal candidate for troubleshooting a gnarly business problem at 4:00 am. Besides, friendship tends to die under the stress of a new business.
What are your goals?
If you don’t have a goal, you can’t reach it. Haphazardly aiming at a vague target will not get you anywhere. Goals need to become a part of your daily life.
Create lists - lots of lists
You will want to have daily, weekly and monthly lists of things to do. Make sure you meet these targets. Don’t let yourself slide. It’s easy to get into a self back-patting mentality. If you fail to make the targets designated for Day One, make sure to add them to Day Two’s list. Become a tough taskmaster.
Reach for the stars, but be realistic
It is good to set goals that make you reach, cause you to stretch outside your comfort zone. Wimpy goals are boring and a waste of time. However, so are pie-in-the-sky aspirations. It’s fine to try to be like the leaders in your industry, but don’t plan to be where they are in one try. A first-time novelist should not expect a Harry Potter success.
How is your credibility?
One of your goals should be to build credibility among your target consumers. If you become the go-to guy or gal, trust me, the money will roll in. Work toward building your name in your industry, earn a stellar reputation and everything will fall into place. That might mean going above and beyond for a client to make sure they are not just happy, but ecstatic. Before you know it you’ll get referrals from all over.
What are your values?
I can always tell when someone will fail in a business. It’s when you ask him about his primary goals and he rambles on about money, yachts and vacations. That’s not a person who understands the entrepreneurial spirit.
Why did you pick this business?
The only business that will succeed is the one that will serve a purpose for others. What problem are you solving for your client? How does what you do help someone else? You must know why your business is important and be able to spit it out easily. By the way, that will become your elevator pitch, your thirty-second answer to the ever-popular question, “What do you do?” Practice it.
Focus on the other guy
If you are only concerned about you and what you want to accomplish, you are missing the point. Your clients want to be the center of your attention. They have that right! Focus on them, on their needs on their goals. If you help others, everything will fall into place for you, too. Besides, I think you’ll find it’s fun.
Remember your passion
If you’re not passionate about your product or service, quit. Quit now before you waste a lot of time and money on a failed enterprise. You must be on fire about what you do, in order to succeed day in and day out for years to come. When things get rough and you run into trouble, remember your passion. It will be what helps you turn things around.