1. A brick & mortar location is not needed to start a business
2. It’s inexpensive to start a business (less than $100-$150 in most cases)
3. You don’t have to quit your job to start a business
Excuse #1 – I Don’t Have The Money
I always heard stories of entrepreneurs raising thousands of dollars to fund their ventures.
Capital, capital, capital. It’s all I ever read and heard about.
The most common misconception I’ve seen in business is that it takes a lot of money to start one.
The actual cost of starting a business? $50-$100 depending on where you live and the business structure you choose.
Technology has given us the ability to work from almost anywhere in the world with a phone, laptop and decent internet connection. There’s no need for a brick and mortar location anymore.
I started GenY Success for $150. It was $100 to register an LLC (in Oregon) and another $50 to get this website up.
Here are a few steps to help you get started:
- SBA.gov has an excellent how-to guide. This article lays out how to start a business, step by step. Don’t get hung up on the business name, you can decide on that later. I registered Jason Bay Consulting LLC and just set up a DBA for GenY Success so I could use the names interchangeably.
- Listen to Josh Bauerle from CPA On Fire. Josh discusses the different entity types you can start and the tax implications of each on The GenY Success Show.
Recommended Reading, Listening & Watching:
- How To Create A Million-Dollar Business This Weekend. This is a great article from Noah Kagan, who used to work at Facebook and Mint before he starting App Sumo.
- creativeLIVE Video Interview w/ Noah Kagan and Tim Ferriss. Noah and Tim dig through the exercises from the article above with a few guests from the audience.
- The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris. Dan’s motto is that if you don’t launch, you don’t learn. I read this book in just a few hours.
- $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. Chris takes examples from all over the world of businesses that were started with very little time, very little money and very little “expertise” on the part of the founder.
Excuse #2 – I Don’t Have The Time
Everyone told me that I would have to quit my job to start a business. There isn’t enough time in the day to do both.
Some people spend 5-7 hours per week getting started and some spend all of their time outside of their day job getting started.
Here’s what I do know: you just have to freakin’ start!
How are you going to know how much time you want to give if you don’t get started to see if you even like what you’re doing?
I was spending 50 hours per week on my day job when I was with College Works Painting, and I spent 10 hours each week planning my business. That’s a 60-hour workweek.
Was it tough? Yes. But was it worth it? Absolutely.
If you can’t make time for it, is it really that important to you?
Motivation isn’t going to come until you actually start and see some small wins. Those small wins will motivate you to work harder.
If you don’t have the time, you don’t want it bad enough.
Recommended Reading, Listening & Watching:
- Love Your Leap Podcast. John Lee Dumas and Tim Paige talk all about taking the leap into entrepreneurship. In episode 27, they talk about jumping in full-time vs. starting a business on the side.
- The Company Man’s Guide To Starting A Side Hustle. This is a great article from the Art of Manliness on starting a side business while maintaining a full-time job. Here’s part 2 of the article along with 37 ideas for side hustles.
- The Side Hustle Show. This is a whole podcast dedicated to side hustles. Here are great episodes on blogging, app development and tips on finding great side hustle ideas.
Excuse #3 – I Don’t Have The Ability
I prefer to start a side hustle before quitting your job: it’s less risky.
I know, entrepreneurship is all about taking risks…blah blah.
But I don’t want to risk having to live on food stamps or unemployment if my business doesn’t work out.
If you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s ok. All entrepreneurs doubt themselves.
Starting a side hustle is a great way to test the waters without risking your job if things don’t work out.
Unless you have lots of savings to live off of (at least 6-9 months worth), I don’t recommend quitting your job to start a business.
Most people make their transition once their business is making enough money for them to quit their job.
Here are a few technical skills you’ll need to get down to start an online business:
- Microsoft Office. Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Can you create a proposal? Could you track your business’s expenses on a spreadsheet if you needed to? Can you build a basic presentation if someone asked you to deliver a talk to their staff? These are all things you should learn how to do.
- WordPress. It’ll save you a ton of money if you can build your own website. It’s not hard, but there are some technical steps involved.
- Basic Design. I’m an Apple user so just knowing how to use a program like Pixelmator helps me out quite a bit. I rarely hire a designer to do anything for me.
- Social Media. Know the basics of how Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn work. This is an absolute minimum. I use a program called Buffer, which helps me cue up future posts weeks in advance of posting them.
Good to go in these areas? Great. Need some improvement?
Here are a few resources for you:
- Lynda.com. I have a special deal set up for you guys to get 7 days free of their how-to videos. I used Lynda.com to learn how to use WordPress to build this site. It’s a great place for video lessons on any piece of software you could imagine (Word, Excel, PowerPoint…for example).
- Social Media Examiner. This is a GREAT website to that outlines the basics of social media and content marketing. They also have a great podcast, Social Media Marketing, which provides weekly tips and insight on social media marketing.
3 Steps You Can Take In The Next 2 Weeks To Launch Your Business
Being an entrepreneur is all about ACTION. It’s about making things happen, and not waiting for them to come to you.
Here are 3 action steps you can take this weekend to get your business launched:
1. Branding 101 (Business Name, Logo and Website): $10-$40
Don’t stress too much about the logo, or even the name of your business. It’s not that important at this point because you’re not Apple…or Google…or Amazon. There’s not going to be a grand launch.
Odds are that no one really knows who you are anyway.
Let me rephrase that: odds are that you’re probably not an authority in your niche yet. I wasn’t when I started, and neither is anyone else!
What should I name my business?
Again, you can always change this later. I recommend spending no longer than a weekend figuring out what you should name your business.
Before GenY Success, I had Jason Bay Consulting LLC. I used to use www.jasondbay.com before creating this site.
Just use your name if nothing really comes to mind. I’ve seen many examples of guys and gals like Chris Brogan, Jeffrey Gitomer, and Sally Hogshead using their own name for their domain.
What should I do about my logo?
Fiverr.com is one of my favorite places to go to for design work. You can get a logo designed for $5.
I picked out the best designer for you. It’s a 4-day turnaround so get going on this!
Here’s an example of something simple I pulled from that page:
If you’re looking to go all out with the logo, I’d recommend using 99Designs. You’ll get access to 30-50 professional designers to choose the best logos from the bunch.
I used 99Designs to create the logo for GenY Success and I’m stoked with the job they did.
What domain name should I get?
This piece is pretty important. The domain name should look credible and it should be easy to remember.
Here are a few pointers:
- Always, always get a .com…it’s much more credible.
- Think hard about the length of the domain. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is hard to remember and it’s way too long for people to type in.
- If you’re using your name, try variations like this: jasonbay.com, jasondbay.com, jasondavidbay.com, thejasonbay.com, jasonbayconsulting.com, etc.
Purchase your domain on GoDaddy, it’s the best place I’ve seen to manage domains with because it’s easy to transfer hosting. They’re also pretty cheap.
How do I set up a website on WordPress?
To use WordPress, you need a website host. I recommend using Bluehost because they make it SUPER EASY.
I have a special deal with Bluehost to get you the first month of website hosting for your WordPress site for just $12.49 the first month and $24.99 / month after that.
Bluehost will even include a free domain, which can save you some cash too if you don’t want to get it through GoDaddy.
Visit this link and follow these directions:
- On the products tab, click on WordPress Hosting
- Click on Get Started Now
- Type in the domain you want to use on the left box and click on Next
- You don’t need any of the additional options (although I recommend Site Backup Pro for just $1.67 / month to back up your site every day). Fill out the payment and click on Next.
- Once your account is set up, log in to Bluehost and click on the Get Started button on the homescreen. They’ll walk you through the rest!
- I recommend using Lynda.com for WordPress tutorials so you can create a decent looking site in just a few days.
2. Give Your Audience Value For FREE
The biggest influencers in any space are usually the ones that provide the most free content. “Holding back” your best work is one of biggest missed opportunities in the world of content marketing.
Because let’s just face it: you’re going to suck when you first start creating content. It’s just the way it is.
Even your best stuff will suck…so imagine how shitty the rest of the stuff will be.
I didn’t even air my first 5 podcast episodes, but I still recorded them.
The only way you’re going to get better is by doing it. Not by reading about how to do it or listening to others talk about how to do it, but BY DOING IT.
You just have to get started.
Here are a few ways you can provide free value to your audience:
Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine weekly newsletter is the best example I’ve seen of a newsletter. Gitomer is one of the best sales consultants in the entire world.
He’s written numerous best-selling books and charges tens of thousands of dollars for keynote speeches…AND HE STILL GIVES AWAY FREE CONTENT.
Here’s what he does that’s so crucial:
- It’s consistent. He’s never missed a week. The most recent one I got was #679. At one time per week, do the math…that’s 7+ years of consistency. Think about what that shows your readers.
- It’s valuable. He makes his fancy, but they don’t have to be. There’s one great takeaway from each newsletter. Even if you didn’t ever buy his books or go to his seminars, you’d still get value from his newsletter.
- It links back to his website. Have a purpose for your newsletter. Gitomer uses his to drive traffic back to his website (where the rest of his services and products are offered). He deliberately offers a snippet of his article so that you have to click through to read the rest.
- He doesn’t hard sell through his newsletter. In all of the years I’ve been a subscriber, he’s never tried to hard sell something to me through his newsletter. He provides links for you to do so, but he never asks you to buy anything. Just remember, most people don’t sign up for an email list to get sold things.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Set up an email service provider. I personally use Aweber, but I like Mailchimp also. Mailchimp is great because it’s free for the first 2,000 subscribers. Trust me, it’ll take a while to get your first 2,000 subscribers, let alone your first 100. Aweber is the best at getting your emails into someone’s inbox without hitting the spam or junk folders.
- Set up an autoresponder. When someone signs up to receive your newsletter, set up an automated message welcoming them to your site. Give them an idea of what to expect from you each week. I have a great example of an autoresponder for my site if you’d like to see one.
- Get subscribers. Get sign up boxes onto your website so that you can start collecting email addresses. Boost Blog Traffic has an AWESOME post on the best WordPress plugins for collecting email addresses. I personally use SumoMe and Plugmatter.
- Create an incentive for signing up. Unless you’re Ryan Holiday or Tim Ferriss, odds are that people aren’t going to subscribe just to hear your thoughts and opinions…at least not yet. A great way to get subscribers is to offer an incentive like a free ebook, report or video series. I have a great example of a free ebook if you’d like to see one. Boost Blog Traffic has another great post on types of incentives that people love to sign up for.
Tim Ferriss has one of the best blog I’ve seen. Ramit Sethi’s blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, is another great example. Tim and Ramit both create great content and use their blog to help promote their products as well.
Here’s what works really well:
- The posts are lengthy. If the topic is interesting, the attention span of the reader isn’t as short as you would think. These guys advise making the blog post as long as it needs to be. Don’t worry about producing a piece of content that can be skimmed in a matter of seconds. Check out one of the more popular posts at Tim’s blog.
- They teach you something. The “how to” articles do the best! These guys write articles that teach you how to do things, step-by-step. As a reader, I always have a great takeaway from each of their articles.
- How To Build A High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself. Great video from Tim Ferriss where he deconstructs what works so well for his blog.
- Boost Blog Traffic. This is the best website I’ve seen on blogging. The articles are great and you’ll see specific examples of what I’m talking about all over that blog.
John Lee Dumas is the man when it comes to podcasting. His podcast, The Entrepreneur On Fire Podcast, received 2013 iTunes Podcast of the year and it’s consistently one of the top-rated business podcasts out there.
Jordan Harbinger’s show, The Art of Charm Podcast, is another stellar podcast. It’s consistently one of the top-rated podcasts in iTunes overall.
Here’s what these guys do really well in their shows:
- The guests are great. Both John and Jordan get stellar guests on the show like Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, Seth Godin, etc. The quality of the guests really make the show.
- There are tangible takeaways. John is big on this. He always asks his guest for specific stories and takeaways because he cares so much about his listeners getting takeaways from the show. Most of us are not semi-celebrity figures like Joe Rogan…most people don’t want to hear us bull shit for an hour.
- They ask great questions. It’s obvious that Jordan prepares for his shows. He spends hours preparing for each episode to learn as much as he can about his guest’s background so that he can determine what questions will get the most beneficial answers.
- They produce episodes every week. John does a daily show. Jordan does 3 shows per week. I do 2 shows per week. I’ve seen a lot of people do 1 show per week. Bottom line: do at least 1 show per week, be consistent with which day and be consistent about doing it…every single week.
- Pat Flynn’s How To Start A Podcast Guide. This is a free blog post Pat put together on how to start a podcast. It’s the best free advice I’ve seen out there on how to get started with podcasting.
- Fizzle.co Podcasting Course. I have a special deal for you guys to get the first month for just $1 to try it out and then $35 / month thereafter. I learned the most about podcasting from the Advanced Podcasting Course that John Lee Dumas taught.
- Podcast On Fire Course. I purchased this course from John Lee Dumas and it was great! If you’re looking for something more instructional with the technical aspects to starting a podcast, this is a great course.
3. Marketing 101
I’m going to assume that you don’t currently have an audience besides a basic Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account. That’s all I had to begin with.
Here are 2 key principles to will help you grow your following:
Key Principle #1: Build relationships by helping others
Put together a list of the top 25 influencers in your niche. You can do this by making these Google searches:
- “best ____(your niche)_____ blogs”
- “best ____(your niche)_____ podcasts”
- “best ____(your niche)_____ websites”
In the search results, you’ll oftentimes find articles where others have put together their lists of favorite blogs, podcasts or websites in your niche. Make sure to save those sites.
Once you’ve identified 25 or so influencers in your niche, do this:
- Add them on Twitter…and retweet 2-3 of their posts every week
- Add them on Facebook…and comment on what they post once per week
- Add them on LinkedIn
- Subscribe to their newsletter and respond to their emails thanking them for giving such useful content to you for free
- Follow their blog and comment on their posts…once per week
- Subscribe to their podcast and leave a review if they have one
Do this for several weeks and they’ll start to notice you. The goal is to get them to repost or comment on your stuff as well.
Key Principle #2: Leverage heavy-hitters in your niche
One of the best pieces of content I’ve put together is what’s called a “round-up post.” I learned about this from Corbett Barr from Fizzle.
All I did was email 20 heavy-hitters in my niche and asked them one question: What held you back from taking the leap into entrepreneurship?
16 of them replied, and those are the ones you see in the post.
After I posted it, I asked them to share it with their audience. Several of them did and I tweeted out the link and tagged them in the post. Most of them retweeted it.
At the time I’m writing this, the post has been re-shared over 130 times.
Do a round-up post like I did or just make sure to mention other people in articles you write. Then just ask them if they could share it with their audience. It’s that simple.
Are you going to overcome these common excuses and get your business started?
I’d love to help you out in any way possible. What are your biggest challenges?
What’s holding you back from starting the business of your dreams?
Post a comment below with your thoughts or concerns.