The benefits of running your own business are numerous. Some of the benefits include (but not limited to):
- Finance and flexibility for ministry and lifestyle design
- Intrinsic joy of doing work you enjoy and are proud of
What do you need to start a business? Paying customers. That’s it.
To start and grow a business, you need to either solve a problem or satisfy a desire for a group of people who pay you to do so.
Cracker Barrel solves a problem for those on the road, by providing delicious, home-style cooking for hungry travelers (who don’t want to eat McDonald’s).
GoPro satisfies a desire for snowboarders, skiers, surfers, mountain bikers, and many other extreme sports lovers, by allowing them to capture and document their extreme and epic adventures. (See this awesome video as an example – the GoPros are the cameras on their helmets.)
Here are nine practical ways to start a business from scratch, with real world stories and examples:
1. The ‘I Stumbled Upon It’ approach
The ‘I Stumbled Upon It’ approach to starting a business is where you start a business almost on accident. You seemingly ‘stumble’ into it. Someone sees your work, gets referred to you by a friend, and/or happens to hear you speak/talk/write about the topic, and asks if they can hire you to work for them.
An example of this is Neil Patel’s consulting business. When Neil was younger, he gave a talk in one of his classes on search engine optimization (SEO). Someone in the class heard him talk about it, and approached him about working for his business. Neil agreed, and this launched the beginning of his multi-million dollar consulting business.
2. Listen to questions people ask you (and asking people questions)
What questions do people ask you? What problems and pains do people mention they have, that a business could solve? Do you have an idea for a solution to a problem that a group of people have?
Dane Maxwell created Paperless Pipeline this way. He asked real estate agents what pains and problems they had related to running their business, and discovered that transaction management was a big problem real estate agents had. His solution was his business, Paperless Pipeline.
Freelancing is one of the best ways to get into business quickly. Simply put, organizations (or people) pay you to provide a service for them. It could be making graphics, building websites, mowing lawns, doing administration work, managing their accounting, or any other service people and organizations pay for.
My business started this way. In college, I started doing social media marketing for a church, a professional speaker and author, and a local restaurant. This grew into other digital marketing services for clients which I offer now, such as pay per click marketing.
4. Build skills, make stuff, create a company
If you have skills to make products and services that people will use and pay for, you can create a company.
Before Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook, he first became an excellent software developer. He started coding at a young age, developing his skills, and making stuff. Years later, when he was in college, he made Facebook with some of his friends. The rest is history.
5. Partner with someone
Another way to start a business is to partner with someone with a skill set that compliments yours, and/or partner with someone who has already started to gain traction with a product/service.
This is how Buffer co-founders started and grew Buffer. Joel had developed the minimum-viable product (buffer), and Leo joined him to help with marketing and operations. (This is also how Apple was started: Steve Jobs partnered with Steve Wozniak, and they built Apple together.)
Many businesses will sell the rights to their logo, name, and business model to third parties (called ‘franchisees’), in exchange for an initial investment upfront, plus an ongoing royalty of the franchises’s gross sales (usually paid out either monthly, quarterly, or annually). The benefit of franchising is twofold: (a) you’re getting a proven business model right from the beginning, and (b) you inherit a solid brand people already know, like, and trust.
Some businesses that offer the ability to franchise are H&R Block, Chick-fil-A, Biggby Coffee, and Subway.
7. The ‘scratch your own itch’ method
This method of starting a business is simply building a product to solve a problem you have (and most likely, many others have as well).
Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) is a perfect example of this. Jason Fried and his web design team were looking for a project management tool for their client work, and couldn’t find what they were looking for. So, they built Basecamp for themselves, and then eventually started selling it to others.
Another example is MopTop Hair Products. The founder, Kelly Foreman, started selling frizzy hair products for women with hair just like her own. By solving her own problem, she also solved a problem many women had.
Is there a problem you have that you can’t seem to find a good solution to? Do you have the ability to create the solution you envision? If so, ‘scratch your own itch’ and build the product. Chances are, there are many others with the same problem.
Many companies are started by parents, whose son(s) and/or daughter(s) inherit and run the company after them.
Chick-fil-A was started by the late S. Truett Cathy, and is now run by his son Dan Cathy; Amanda Holmes now runs her fathers company Chet Holmes International; and Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp and Fox Broadcasting Company, started his companies this way too. His father was a well-known Australian journalist who owned several newspaper and media companies. Rupert inherited the business, and continued to buy more media outlets and started FOX Broadcasting Company in 1986.
If your parent or grandparent has a successful business, inheriting it from them could be a wonderful blessing to receive.
9. Buy a business
Another way to start a business is to not actually start one; it’s to buy a business, take over leadership, and run/grow the business.
My friend John purchased his wood flooring business from his cousin, and now operates a multi-million dollar small business. John is now the owner of the business, and has made the business much more successful since becoming its owner and President.
I hope these nine ways above help you begin brainstorming how you mighty start your own business. Remember, all you need to get started in business is one paying customer. From there, you can get your second and third customers, and then start thinking about other business-related things like a logo, website, and business cards.
Even if you are employed or in ministry, you should still start a business. I invite you to join our free email newsletter, where we share inspiring articles and practical tips on becoming successful in life, in business, and for Jesus Christ.
What kind of business are you interested in starting? What’s holding you back from beginning? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below, and be sure to share this post with anyone you think might need to read it.