Right now, you may be sitting at home not knowing what to do. You might be one of the thousands furloughed or let go due to COVID-19.
And that really sucks.
Or maybe you’re one of the essential workers that aren’t getting treated fairly for the hard work and risk you’re putting into just being at your job. That also sucks.
Or you’re just tired of working for the man, feeling undervalued, or you want the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself. You want more control.
Whichever scenario, you now thinking about starting your own business.
Now, the hard part for most people is figuring out what to do. A lot of people are sitting around waiting for lightning to strike with a brand new idea. But you don’t need an original idea. Most people who own businesses are not selling something new and different.
So what should you do?
A lot of people will tell you to follow your passion. I used to feel that way as well, but I think about it a little bit differently now.
For example, I love to play poker. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager, I have tons of books, and for many years, it was my thing. I couldn’t get enough of it. There were times that I would drive up to WinStar and play for 18 hours straight and still wish I was there driving home!
But in 2006, I quit my job to play poker full-time. It only lasted for 9 months. I had no idea how much my perception of poker would change when it went from being my passion to my being my only source of income. I had to put more hours in than any regular job I’d ever had. And when I wasn’t playing, I was studying poker or discussing strategy with poker buddies. It was non-stop, and not in a good way.
It caused more stress and resentment than joy.
Also, the more passionate you are about something, the harder it is to sell to somebody because you’re inflexible about its importance. You’ll never understand why they would say no. To you, it’s something everybody should have! That mindset can create even more stress and resentment about it.
Depending on your mindset or sales process, this isn’t an absolute. But with some personalities, it’s definitely possible.
I do still love poker, but I’ve never regained the passion that I once had for it. That’s why it is very important to be careful about what you build your business around. It can ruin something that you love, and that sucks. Trust me.
So how do you figure out what you should do?
Well, you can start by writing down a list of things that you care about and have some knowledge in. You can even write down your passions, but you might want to avoid your biggest ones. At least at first.
However, it is important to pick something you do care about. If you don’t care about something, it will be more difficult to help others, (your future clients), find value in it.
Also, you’re going to have to sell it to your clients. Hopefully, down the road, you’ll have a marketing budget, funnels, lead generators, all that. But in the beginning, you’ll probably have to start by having many, many conversations. I mean lots of them! It will be a lot some days, but picking something you’ll enjoy talking about will make the phone a helluva lot lighter on those harder days.
Once you’ve picked your thing, now you need to learn more about it.
With nothing more than your laptop or phone, you can take whole courses and gain certifications from home. And right now, a lot of them are totally free or deeply discounted! Look into Coursera, Skillshare, EdX, Udemy, and universities like Harvard and Yale. Even LinkedIn is providing tech training now! This is the absolute best time to learn a new skill and gain the knowledge you need to go out and work for yourself.
While you’re learning, start checking out the people who are doing something similar. It is almost impossible to be wholly original or brand new. But finding out what is working for others and tweaking it just enough to make it your own can be a winning strategy.
And start creating a plan of action.
What do you need before you start? How much money do you need starting out, and how much do you need to make to be comfortable? Who are you going to help?
I wrote more about this in my post, “Just Start It.” It goes into more detail about what you should be thinking about.
After all of that, (or most of it because you’ll never know everything you need to know until you start), work up the nerve and take a leap.
The thing is, COVID-19 has changed everything. Even when businesses are open again and life is basically back to normal, it will be a new normal. Companies are now realizing that their employees don’t necessarily have to be at the office. The gig economy is booming more than ever and opportunities are free for the taking. If you’re going to do it, now is the time!