Want To Start Your Own Business? Make Sure You Don’t Do This 1 Thing
I fundamentally disagree with the concept of sitting down, staring out an open window, and asking the question, “What should I make?”
I’m beginning to think this applies far outside just the realm of business. Everything in life, no matter what it is you’re building or making, requires iteration. Which means “success” is the ability to get to and through that iterative process as quickly, but effectively, as possible.
For proof, look no further than the people who come up with ideas all day, every day, but never actually bring a project to completion.
The best ideas always begin with an experience.
The best novels are inspired by the grumpy grandma that lives in the apartment down the hall.
The best movies unfold from a script someone started writing in a late-night diner, watching people walk in and out at two in the morning.
The best shoes are made after the worst shoes were worn.
The best products start as solutions two people in a dorm room wanted to build for themselves.
And the best businesses begin the moment someone says to you, “I really wish someone could help me.” If you can help that person solve a problem, congratulations: you’re in business.
Which means the real question is, “How do I build a scalable business I won’t get bored of, or frustrated by, over the long term?”
Finding business ideas isn’t the hard part. Business ideas are everywhere.
Listen close, and people will tell you exactly what they’re looking for — to your face.
The challenge is figuring out what sort of business interests you enough to stick with it through thick and thin. For example: when I was a kid, I used to mow lawns to make extra money in the summer. People gave me that business idea on a silver platter: “I wish I had someone reliable to mow my lawn every week.”
I solved that problem, and they paid me in return.
Now, I could have expanded that into a business, hired other kids, trained them up to mow lawns just like me. But I didn’t want to — and that’s a really important distinction. I liked having extra money as a teenager, but I didn’t love mowing lawns. I didn’t love grass. I didn’t always love the people I worked for. I didn’t love lugging grass bags to the end of every driveway. I hated when I’d pour the grass from the lawnmower into a bag, and the bag would topple over, and I’d have to pick up all the grass clippings with my hands. I really despised the whole process.
In this scenario, a lot of people would say, “That’s why you hire people to do the work for you!”
As the founder of my own company, I cannot explain how much I disagree with that method of thinking.
The truth is, hiring people takes time. Training people takes time. Building a working team takes time. And all throughout that journey, you’re going to have step in and get your hands dirty. Right now, at Digital Press, we have 13 full-time employees. And every single day, I’m still diving in, getting my hands dirty. And I’ll probably still be getting my hands dirty a year, two years, four years from now. And the reason is because getting your hands dirty is how you continue to make sure the work you’re doing is better than “good.” It’s how you improve, and push others to improve, and keep everyone inspired to work toward the next goal.
Building a business around something you love, or something that interests you, is a huge part of the equation.
In order to figure out what that is, you have to try things.
Lots of things.
9 times out of 10, when someone says, “I want to build a business, but I don’t know what kind of business,” they haven’t had enough experiences. They haven’t tried enough things.
When you try new things, you discover what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re good at, what you’re terrible at, and ultimately what interests you the most.
Right after I took the leap from my 9–5, I was a freelancer. I didn’t have any aspirations of building a business, honestly. I just wanted to pay my bills as a writer. But through that experience, I discovered problems people were facing. As a freelance writer, I realized CEOs and founders have a ton of insight to share, but really struggle to organize their insight into a well-written article.
So, I solved that pain point.
I learned what questions to ask, to prompt insightful responses. I learned how to write about a wide range of topics, quickly. I learned how to manage expectations. I learned how, essentially, run a 1-person business. And then why I could no longer sustain doing the work all by myself, I called up one of my closest friends and we threw around the idea of starting a company.
The business came as a result of my own experiences.
In order to figure out what sort of business you want to start, don’t waste your time sitting in front of a white wall, “brainstorming” ideas. The truth is, you won’t know what people want until you start talking to people, listening for what their struggling with, solving for it, and then deciding whether or not you enjoy providing that kind of solution enough to build a business around it.