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Discovering the “What” of Starting a Business

Here are some steps you can take beginning with the idea phase, followed by starting a side hustle and finally taking the leap to be your own boss.

You know you want to be your own boss, but you don’t know exactly WHAT kind of business to start. Now what?

Here are some steps you can take beginning with the idea phase, followed by starting a side hustle and finally taking the leap to starting a business.

Do some serious soul searching

In one of my previous blogs, Preparing to Be Your Own Boss, I talk about the importance of knowing yourself. If you’ve been working in the Corporate world for a while, chances are you’ve become more disconnected with the things that really bring you true joy and meaning. In order to get to what I call “the what” of starting a business, you really need to connect to those activities that make you who you are. In other words, your authentic self. A common mistake people make is that they look outside of themselves for answers when the answers are within. The only way to get to those answers is to find some quiet and stillness in the midst of these frantic lifestyles we lead. For you, that might mean going out in nature once a week, meditating or going to yoga class—whatever works for you. The key is to recognize that the mind is like a body of water. When it’s turbulent and choppy, you can’t see anything, yet when it’s still, it almost looks like glass and everything becomes clear. In my opinion, this is the most critical phase because it serves as the foundation for everything that follows.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are my gifts?
  • What are my values?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What do people compliment me on?
  • What gets me excited?
  • What activity can I do for hours and lose track of time?
  • What would I rather be doing that I’m not doing now?
  • What does my ideal life look like?
  • What legacy do you want to leave behind?
  • Why do you want to start a business?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What would you do if you had all the time and money in the world and knew you couldn’t fail?

Turn that self-knowledge into business ideas

Once you have a good sense of your purpose, values and who you are, start turning that information into potential business ideas. When I went through this phase, I realized that I enjoy connecting with people on a personal level, mentoring and helping them grow personally and professionally–which led me to coaching. Is there a need for a business doing one or more of the things that you’re good at? Many would-be entrepreneurs conceive business ideas out of pain points or things that they see lacking in the marketplace. By figuring out how to solve the problems that you or someone else has, you may be able to come up with a brilliant idea that fills a specific gap in the market. It also helps to have a personal connection to your purpose so that you can devote the amount of time and energy it will take to get the business off the ground. Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com says, “the advice I have for entrepreneurs is…No. 1, you need to solve a real problem. I look for those problems in my own life. Mint was because I had a challenge managing my own finances using Quicken and Microsoft Money. So, I built it for myself.” He ultimately sold Mint.com to Intuit for $170 million.

Talk to people, test the idea, start a side hustle

The next step is the research phase. Go online, network, and reach out to people in the field you’re thinking about pursuing to see if it really is all that you imagine it to be. When I looked into coaching, I decided to talk to coaches and hire a coach for myself. That’s when I had my breakthrough. Try testing the idea by asking your friends and relatives if it would be a product they would buy or a service they may be interested in. Check to see if you might require some additional education or certifications. You may be able to find a way to complete those in the evenings and on weekends while you’re still planning your Corporate escape. When I found my coaching certification program, it was structured so that you could complete the courses while still being employed full-time. Finally, you can start a “side hustle”. There’s a really great website called SideHustleNation.com where they offer some tips for side hustle business ideas if you’d like to get your creative juices flowing. Starting a side hustle is also a good way to get your foot in the door of entrepreneurship while still having the safety and security of your current job. In fact, a recent study estimates that 57.3 million Americans are freelancing (36 percent of the U.S. workforce) and contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the economy, an increase of almost 30% since last year. You can start small when it comes to starting a business but remember– think big!

Put a plan together

Once you have your side hustle going, the next step is to put your corporate escape plan together. Remember if you’re focusing on a side hustle that isn’t allowing you to transition to a full-time opportunity, it’s just an expensive hobby! Make sure you’ve run the numbers to understand how much you need to get the business off the ground and what you’ll need to set aside in the early days until the business can sustain itself. You’ll also need to consider what your company structure will be, pick a name for the business and register it. Another consideration is location—can you run the business from your home or will you need an office space? The most important thing is, put together a concrete timeline! A transition plan will help you stay focused and without a deadline, you won’t get any closer to your dream of being your own boss. Lastly, if you can, plan for some down time in between leaving your Corporate gig and starting a business. Try to disconnect from technology—maybe even take a device-free vacation like Arianna Huffington describes in this article. Taking time out to decompress from the “grind” so you’re fresh to start your new life will be well worth it.

This is the scariest part. No matter how much planning and preparation you have gone through you are always going to feel fear when starting a business. THAT’S NORMAL. The key is not to let fear prevent you from moving closer to your dreams. There is never a “right time” to start a business so once you reach your deadline, take the leap. Once you’ve made the transition, go all in and don’t look back!

Originally published at corporateescapeartist.com

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