By now, you’ve probably seen the stat on this site that 92% of people with a business idea never get started. They just have an idea and then it fades away into obscurity.
The BizBuddy Pathway is designed to help you bridge the gap between the idea and then actually executing it.
We do this in two main ways.
- We make a clear vision of why you want to start this business, and what life looks like when that vision is fulfilled upon
- We break it down into bite-sized steps to make it easy to follow
Let’s get started with Step #1.
Figuring out Your Entrepreneurial Why
I have a love/hate with this topic mostly due to one viral Ted Talk by Simon Sinek that made the concept of “Your Why” so popular.
The why is your purpose and mission for why your company will exist.
If you haven’t seen the video, it’s worth a watch, but my gripe here pertains to someone with an entrepreneurial itch trying to find their why.
In the video he talks about companies like Apple and how their marketing message was focused around their why.
“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, user friendly, and we just happen to sell computers.”
Since that video launched I have heard it referenced at least 50 times in different business meetings.
I’ve sat in multiple sessions with multiple companies focused on finding your why.
Here’s the deal. Apple’s messaging worked because it was great messaging AND MORE IMPORTANTLY they were at the forefront of one of the biggest technological innovations in the history of humankind… the personal computer.
Leaning on Apple for business advice is like asking 7’7″ NBA player Manute Bol how to dunk a basketball…
“Just reach up on your tippy toes and dunk it.”
It completely ignores the fact that 99.9% of us aren’t riding the wave of innovative products. We’re opening coffee shops, e-commerce stores, or a consulting practice.
So let’s take the pressure off a bit. Your entrepreneurial why isn’t about how you’re going to reshape the world… it’s about how you’re going to reshape your world.
I felt myself starting to slide down the happiness curve. You can check out that link but a quick synopsis is that studies have shown that adults become increasingly unhappy until about age 47.2 and then they gradually become happier.
I was in my early 30s reading that study and it made sense.
As my family and responsibilities started to grow I felt my free time, social time, and happiness dwindle.
Suddenly it was really hard to make time to see friends, work out, sit in silence… I found myself becoming a less healthier version of myself due to the lack of free time.
I was busy taking care of other people and wasn’t carving out time for myself.
My entrepreneurial why was simple. Create a business that allows me to earn more while taking time to breathe so I can take care of myself and in return my family.
Not exactly a great manifesto on how I’m going to change the world… nope… I just wanted to change my world.
So my advice on finding your why is to start reflecting on your pain. Your pain is a tremendous teacher of what’s out of alignment in your life.
Get clear on what your pain is and how it informs your future. Again your why doesn’t have to be curing cancer. It can simply be about creating more time flexibility so you can show up better for those who matter most to you.
Put pen to paper. Write down painful memories and create bullet points below the memories of what was missing in that moment, what was out of alignment and what was causing the pain. Keep doing this exercise and think about what kind of entrepreneurial future would change that pain for you?
Crafting a Compelling Vision
Now that you have an idea of what your why is. We want to make a compelling vision of what life looks and feels like when that why becomes a reality.
For my situation, it was all about being a better version of myself by creating financial and time flexibility through business ownership.
I went through an exercise where you get a pen and a piece of paper and think about what your life looks like 5 years out after successfully pursuing your why.
I closed my eyes and what I saw was a messy backyard filled with confetti and birthday streamers. My Wife and I just put our son to bed after his birthday party and we’re looking out over the birthday carnage after everyone has left. I felt present during the day enjoying a milestone for my son.
Before picking up the bday carnage my wife and I take a seat on the back patio and pour two glasses of wine. We cheers glasses looking over the mess as the sun is setting in the trees. In this moment I am completely happy.
Then I drew it on paper.
You’ve probably heard that writing your goals down makes it easier to recall them and makes them feel more real.
I found drawing out my vision did the same for me. Again, this is not some drawing about world domination. It’s just capturing a slice of life and what it feels like at that moment when your vision becomes reality.
We are highly emotional animals. Drawing out a visual of your future life and immersing yourself in that feeling is easy to recall. The easier your vision is to recall the more likely you are to reference it in your mind.
Step 2 – Draw out a moment in your life 5 years from now after you’ve achieved your vision.
Now let’s talk about the What.
Simply put you need to know what you’re going to be selling to make your Vision a reality.
This is important because too many times I see people start businesses without thinking about what kind of life they want to lead.
For example… someone who loves cooking, family and travel decides to open a restaurant.
They then get bogged down with the day to day of running the businesses. They’re frequently working nights and weekends and can’t spend time with their family like they want to.
They also can’t find the time to travel because of the business.
An alternate route would be creating a meal prep service catered towards teachers. By niching down you can make the consumer feel like “this was meant just for me!” which is a much easier sale.
By owning a meal prep company you don’t have to work nights and weekends so you get time with your family.
Best of all you could let your customers know you close when school is out for Summer allowing yourself time to travel.
On the surface owning a restaurant sounds a lot cooler than a meal prep service.
But it all depends on what your Why and Vision is for your life. Then you can go after a business that fulfills on that.
If you’re unsure what kind of business to start, I’d suggest reading this guide on what type of business should I start?
Next we will will talk about how to get your new business off the ground.
Creating a Pact to Start Your Business
I find unboxing videos on YouTube very strange.
People will just sit there watching a stranger unbox items. Part of the reason people do this is that your brain imagines it’s you opening that new iPhone.
You get warm fuzzy brain chemicals without having to swipe your credit card.
It’s at this stage that A LOT of people fall off the entrepreneurial path.
That’s because it feels good to imagine owning a business and it fulfilling on your vision.
But it’s hard to get your wallet out and put your money on the line.
That’s why you need to make a pact with yourself.
I like SMART goals for this. Here’s how they work.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Acheivable
R – Relevant
T – Time-Bound
So let’s continue with the example of the meal prep service and how you can make a pact with yourself to launch your business using a SMART Goal.
It’s important to be specific about what needs to happen, who will be responsible and what steps are needed to make it happen. Here’s an example.
I will launch the meal prep business in 5 weeks on or before September 1st. My goal is to grow the business to $5,000 of monthly net profit by the following September so I can leave my day job. For this to happen I need to do the following things:
- Setup an LLC for my business
- Create a logo and website
- Setup a business bank account
- Research online plans around starting a meal prep business, there might be a template out there
- Get the first month of available meals planned out
- Make sure I have all equipment needed (cooking items, plastic containers, bags etc)
- Reach out to my network two weeks before launch and let them know I’m open for business
- Work on marketing strategy once I’ve worked through my personal network to grow the business
We already have a specific goal of when we want to launch the new business but let’s create a measurable goal for our first month and year.
I will have 10 returning paying customers by October 1st. By February 1st I will have 50 returning customers to the business at a profit margin of 25%.
I will shoot for an average customer order size of $250/month which would mean I’d would be at about $3,125 of monthly profit heading into February.
My goal is to hit $5,000 monthly profit before the end of June (taking most of July and some of August off). This will require 80 paying customers.
I figure with summers off and various vacation weeks I can expect about 9 months of meals which would get me to $45,000 in net profit at 80 paying customers.
I will take a look at my books on June 1st to create a growth goal for the following September.
Those are measurable actions that are specific. I’d suggest putting these dates into your calendar so you have them for easy reference.
If you’re not measuring your success with your business it’s really easy to get complacent and take yourself off the hook.
It’s important your goal is achievable. When it comes to goals people can be on either side of the equation.
If you tell yourself you want to lose 50 pounds in the next 30 days you’re going to feel discouraged when you lose 10 and end up quitting.
On the flip if you say you want to lost 5 pounds in the next year you might be underselling yourself.
You want achievable goals that push you to a level of discomfort but don’t ruin your motivation and energy because they’re so lofty.
The measurables above are very achievable. We start at 10 customers in month one and realize that we will most likely have bigger demand after New Years resolutions so we give ourself time to build to that 50 number.
The other thing we did is just take a few minutes to do some Googling. I found information on the average customer spend and profit margins. This gave me a realistic target for net profit.
This is hugely important for our next step.
Here is where we want to make sure our goal is relevant to the vision we’ve laid out for ourselves.
Just write down why we’re doing this goal?
“I want to control more of time. I know once I’m making $5,000 a month I can leave my day job to work fulltime on meal prep. I understand that this coming year will be a lot to manage and at times it will feel like I’m taking steps backwards. But if I have 100 paying customers by the following September I can leave my job and start controlling my time. I want to spend more time with my family and travel with them on off weeks and the summer. This will allow me to do that once I’m up and running.”
Your vision in the 30,000 foot view where you’re looking down at what life looks like in 5 years. The paragraph above helps you to chop that up into a shorter time period of what the next 18 months look like.
It’s so important to chop things up into bite size pieces.
If you’re struggling to come up with a relevant statement then the trick I’m going to show you next might be helpful.
I already have dates listed in the goals above but sometimes it can be hard to figure this stuff out.
What I’ve found helpful is to look at your overall goal and then work in reverse chronological order. This is something I learned from the book Buyer Legends.
Think of it this way.
When you lose your phone how do you find it?
You start retracing your steps of where you’ve been and when you last had it. You work in reverse chronological order.
So for your time bound goals what you can do is set an overall target ($5,000 a month) and then start working in reverse to see what will get you there.
How many customers is that? What’s a reasonable timeline to get those customers? Then create a time-bound goal based on that research.
How to Hit Your Entreprenurial Goal?
You’ve created a pact with yourself.
You’ve drawn a line in the sand and told yourself “This is what I want and I want it by this date because it will help me fulfill on my personal vision.
So now you want to work through how you’re going to make that happen.
Let’s continue with the meal prep for teachers business.
Step 1 – Gather Data
Too many people rush into action. They don’t take time to do research and gather data.
One of the most helpful quotes I’ve ever read was from Tony Robbins and it said, “If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.”
I’ll admit… that quote doesn’t sound inspiring or anything. In fact it seems kind of the opposite.
So just copy someone?
Somewhere is someone doing what you want to do and they’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some fun tips on how to reverse engineer how your competitors are getting awareness and customers.
Customer Research Tools
I love the tool similarweb which allows you to see data on your competitors.
One caveat is that your competitor needs to have a highly trafficked website.
Personally my family subscribes to a local meal service called Jess In the Kitchen (more on this later) but her site doesn’t get enough traffic to even register on similarweb.
So what you can do is plug in a much larger business such as the meal boxes that are sent to your home. Let’s see what Hello Fresh looks like.
This is fantastic data.
We realize this audience skews female and 25-34 seems to be the sweet spot for ages.
This makes sense in that those are the ages when time gets tight and we want convenience like a meal kit.
A quick Google search tells me that 74.3% of teachers are female too! So going after schools might be a good fit for this demographic.
It’s important to think critically when you’re doing this strategy, though.
That’s because HelloFresh is a national brand and our meal prep business will be highly local. But you can still find nuggets of gold by looking at more of their data.
So let’s think critically about this social media traffic.
YouTube isn’t a great fit because it reaches an international audience.
But this can be inspiring for more research. Is there a local Reddit/Facebook/Meetup group about meal prep? Could we join those groups and contribute value and maybe get customers back out of it?
Just keep digging down rabbit holes.
Simply trying out your competitor’s product is hugely insightful.
Let’s say I wanted to make a rival meal plan to Jess in the Kitchen mentioned earlier.
Well if I order from her website I can get some valuable insights.
- At the bottom of the website it says the site is made by PopMenu and this might be a good option for our new business
- It looks like online ordering and payment is handled by PopMenu too
- We can get an idea of pricing, portion sizes, meal categories, and even what containers they pack food in
Doing this type of research can be time-consuming and cost a little bit of money but again you’re bypassing a lot of the early hurdles.
Your established competitor has already underpriced their services in the past. They tried using SquareSpace for their website but the online ordering process was too glitchy.
Figure out how you’re going to market your business by seeing what works for your competitors.
I wanted to mention one other idea here for how to market your business.
That’s the concept of “Inside Champions” I learned from Roy H. Williams who writes the Monday Morning Memo.
The concept is that in every sales/marketing situation, there is usually an inside champion that could be your cheat code to business growth.
This isn’t the person necessarily buying you product, but they have influence over the ones that do.
He used McDonald’s as an example. They created the happy meal because they realized kids can be pretty persuasive inside champions. They want the fun box and toy and beg Mom and Dad to go to McDonald’s. Sad example… but effective.
Let’s get to the meal prep for teachers example.
In this scenario, an inside champion would be someone that is well-connected in a school district.
I’m thinking of secretaries, principals, and influential teachers.
These are people you’d want to find and perhaps provide a week of free meals. You’ll chalk it up to a marketing expense.
You want these people eating your delicious meals in the breakroom. Perhaps you even include a coupon book with your free meals offering a promo code for your first order. Something they could leave in the breakroom.
You’d be shocked what people are willing to do for you when you’re upfront with them that you’re a small business trying to grow (and throwing them some free meals).
Think about who the inside champions are with your business and how you can get in front of them.
For mortgage brokers, it’s the real estate agents who are further upstream.
For a healthy meal prep service it would be local gym owners.
Many times the IC works in a parallel business that isn’t a direct competition, but they speak to the same audience.