Most people want at least one of these things:
a) More freedom
b) More money
Whether you want to quit your job as soon as possible or just establish an additional source of income to have more freedom, you have to take specific action. This post will show you how.
Step 1. Stop Killing the Dream
There’s no hidden secret to establishing your own security through additional income. People who work at Google or Microsoft earn six-figure incomes, but sometimes get stuck on the basics of making money on their own. Others focus on failure, with the mistaken belief that failure is destiny. Just because someone else fails or gives up doesn’t mean you will. The dream of working on your own terms is real. Don’t kill it! Stop reality-checking your life.
I’ve been earning a living online for 14 years now (yes, I’m old). I receive emails every day from people making the leap to creative self-employment or otherwise earning a good side income.
There’s no get-rich-without-work plan, but there is also no shortage of ways to get paid by adding value to the world. Let’s consider one of them.
Step 2. Make a Plan By Focusing on What You’re Good At
You begin by thinking about what you’re good and what you like to do. You may think you’re not good at anything people will pay for, or that you have no marketable skills. Not true!
A key principle of skill transformation is that if you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else.
Teacher: Good at communication, crowd management, lesson planning
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Engineer: Good at methodical thinking, problem-solving
Bookkeeper: Good at attention to detail, figuring out systems
If you’re not sure what you’re good at, think about the questions that people frequently ask you. Is there something people always come to you for because you’re the expert?
Not everything that you’re good at and excited about can become a business model—but something can. This is why you need to find convergence between those skills and passions, and what other people also value. Spend as much time as you need figuring out this part; it will be the foundation for everything else.
Step 3: Create an Offer
Next, you need to take your idea and turn it into an offer that prospective customers can evaluate. Wait, where are the other steps? There aren’t any. You can skip these unnecessary actions:
• Create a business plan that no one will ever read
• Beg the bank (or your family and friends) for money
• Run up debt on your credit card
• Recruit investors
• Devise an exit plan
A product launch can be a big deal, but if you’re just doing this for the first time, you have to start somewhere. You start with a very basic website (get a free one from WordPress) and a PayPal account to accept payments.
As soon as possible, get your first sale. In the course of writing The $100 Startup, I heard over and over that the first sale was critical. “Once the first sale came in, I knew I’d succeed,” someone said. “It may not have been completely rational, but that single sale motivated me to take the business much more seriously.”
“I was doing a live presentation and opened the shopping cart for our first product launch,” someone else said. “I saw orders coming in and literally said out loud, ‘Yes, this is it!’ It was huge for my momentum at the time.”
On book tour I’ve been hearing more stories like these at every stop. Lesson: get the first sale.
When you’re ready to do a real product launch, the post at the link contains a number of tips. Probably the most important are:
1. Prepare people in advance. (Let them know when it’s coming and why they should care.)
2. Tell a good story. (Make it fun and interesting.)
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Don’t wait any longer than you absolutely need to get your offer to the world.
Step 5: Tell People About Your Offer
This is also known as hustling. Get the word out! Sometimes people say, “But I don’t know anyone!” Sure you do. You know all kinds of people; you just need to reach out to them. Here’s a sample message (customize and send this individually, not to every contact in your address book in a mass email…).
I wanted to quickly let you know about a new project I’m
It’s called [name of business or project], and the goal is to
[main benefit]. We hope to [big goal, improvement, or idea]. Don’t worry, I haven’t added you to any lists and I won’t be spamming you, but if you like the idea and would like to help
out, here’s what you can do:
[Action Point 1] [Action Point 2]
Thanks again for your time.
Then, spend time every day getting the word out. Make a list: what 5 actions can you take to further spread the news of your project?
Step 6: Figure out what comes next
First things first—get the offer up and running. Make your first sale. Next, the world is open to you. Things get really fun once you have the first sale, because then you can start tweaking. The biggest question at that point is… where is the next sale? And the next, and the next?
You can then either:
a) Recruit more customers, or
b) Sell more to the same customers
For best results, work on these goals simultaneously by planning several actions for each strategy.
You may also decide on expansion or non-expansion. You may want to do something entirely different. The goal is to get to this point, and then you have options. That’s it.
Bonus! A Few Guidelines on Your Escape Plan. As your project grows, these additional guidelines may help:
Don’t worry about expenses; increase income instead. The way out of debt is not through clipping coupons, skipping lattes, or buying discount toilet tissue. It is found through increasing your income. Ramp it up!
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Never compete on price. Even if you could win, it’s usually the wrong approach. Charge a fair price and compete on value.
Sell at more than one price. Offer customers different versions of your product or service based on their needs or level of commitment. (Visit any Apple store for an example of this practice in action.)
Ignore the competition. Focus instead on how you can improve relative to where you began. Focus on your customers and how you can better serve them.
The most important competition is against inertia.
All things considered, some businesses are easier than others. It doesn’t mean they are inherently better, but why make it complicated? Embrace the knowledge economy. Teach people something, reduce a barrier or remove an inefficiency. Fix a problem or remove a pain point.
Value means helping people. Whether in business or life, when you’re not sure what to do next, help someone.
Here at World Domination HQ, we often hear from people making the big leap to self-employment, as well as those who still have day jobs but have successfully established a side income. We are in the dream-building business, not the dream-killing business.
Yeah, you’ll have to work hard. But if you want to make this happen for yourself, you can in fact do so. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
A version of this post originally appeared on Chris Guillebeau’s website.