How to Plan Your New Business While You’re Working.
We are living in the age of the entrepreneur! More and more professionals that have become disenfranchised working in Corporate America and are between jobs or considering a career transition have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Many people I know personally and others I coach are working feverishly RIGHT NOW to plan their new business.
If you are one of these budding entrepreneurs, how can YOU go about the arduous and intense process? How do you plan a new business while you’re fully committed to your day job? It’s certainly not easy, but there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that you will successfully transition from employee to business owner. You CAN plan a new business while you’re working. Here’s how…
Time management is the key: Learn how to develop a plan of action and move forward aggressively with a focus of completing all your tasks and diligently stick to assigned deadlines. Set aside a predetermined amount of time EVERY DAY to dedicate to your business. Try VERY not to let anything interfere with your daily business start-up planning. If you can’t honor the time you committed to your new business planning on a given day, you MUST make up that lost time the following day or two.
Build a working prototype: You need to develop a bare minimum product/service offering that you can create a concept for and pitch to people in your social and professional networks to gauge their receptiveness to your offering. People have to feel it, hold it, touch it, smell it, try it on. If it’s a service they have to test it.
Build an ideal customer profile: Define your ideal customer in as much detail as possible. Don’t skimp on the details. How old is she, where does she live, is she married, what is the highest level of education she achieved, is she married, what’s her job, where does she work, how long has she worked there, does she have children, does she belong to a wine of the month club, belong to a gym, shop online? The extent to which you can define your ideal customer in as much detail as possible will go a long way towards being able to develop products and services tailored to her specific needs and challenges.
After you develop a product/service prototype and ideal customer profile start thinking about the people you know that match the profile and asking them if they would use your product/pay for your service.
Start saving. Since most of the funds required to start your business will come from you plus your closest friends and family, start thinking about the few people that you might ask for assistance.
Let the sleep deprivation begin: There is no way around it! You are going to have to get accustomed to making due with LESS SLEEP! Entrepreneurs work more, sleep less, and find themselves waking up at all hours because they are so deep in the planning aspects of their business.
Build a robust contact database: Begin building a list of relevant, useful contacts in your social and professional network. Be sure to include experts in Web development, social media, business coaching, administrative services, e-mail marketing, contact management systems, sales support platforms, financial management, accounting, intellectual property, customer care, etc.
Build your compelling brand online: Update all of your social media profiles, begin developing an editorial calendar for the blog you will write as a way to build your reputational brand as a subject matter expert.
Research, research, research: Learn as much as you possibly can about the industry you are going to enter. Follow the most popular bloggers, subscribe to their e-newsletters, research all the trade associations that serve the industry. You MUST become knowledgeable about all the latest trends and developments affecting your industry. Who are the new players, struggling competitors, rising star key executives, latest technologies.
Acquire business ownership skills: Begin acquiring a working knowledge in all of the key areas required to run your business including: accounting, financial planning, marketing, sales, human resources, and operations for starters.
Interview your fellow entrepreneurs: Start speaking with as many entrepreneurs and start-ups as you know to learn as much as you can about their lessons learned, get advice from as many people as possible on what to do, what not do to, best tips, advice, resources.
Become a “subject matter expert”: start building your reputation (brand) as an expert in your field. You can accomplish this the following ways:
* Get Published: write articles in any number of areas in your field and submit them to influential publications. Begin having dialogs with those noted media experts in your field, build relationships with them using your social media.
* Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition: what significant experience, skills, and expertise have you already acquired that you can begin to craft compelling messaging around for your own brand as unique, memorable, and invaluable.
* Define Your Features & Benefits: Again, what are your value propositions with respect to past work experience, technical expertise, relevant experience, professional affiliations and memberships, skills, accreditations and certifications.
* Identify Your Success Stories: create a list of the 4-5 major accomplishments you are most proud of and best capture the essence of your value proposition.
* Begin Promoting Yourself: Create a strategic plan of networking opportunities in your industry and start practicing your own brand story-telling when yo meet new people at these events.
* Monitor & Defend Your Brand: I tell all my clients to do a Google, Bing, and Yahoo search on your name once a month, and check your personal brand online through such services as Klout.
Enlist Your Loved Ones: very serious conversation with your spouse/significant other to discuss their emotional support you are going to need from them, the financial impact you’ll both experience, your time frame to launch the business and thus a tentative date that you will LEAVE your day job.
Start exercising: The stress and wear and tear your body takes when you start planning a new business is tremendous, so you need to start getting into shape so you have the energy that will be required to work those extra hours and deal with the toll that the stress will place on you.
Find Your Future Business Partners: Think about the partners you may be able to align yourself with. People whose skill sets compliment yours but also share your values and moral compass/ethics BUT are also the OPPOSITE of you from a personality standpoint. you want people whose experience, beliefs and temperament are a compliment to yours, NOT who match yours.
Set Your Exit Date: As you develop a calendar and time frame to launch and this begin thinking about an exit strategy to leave your day job you have to match that schedule with your personal and family calendar to ensure they are in as much synergy/alignment as possible.
Here’s to your success in starting a new business in 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach