You’ve dreamed about ditching your dead-end job, and starting a business that allows you to build a life exactly the way you want to…
But there’s just one problem; you can’t really decide on a business idea. You have about 5 of them floating around your head at any given time, but you’re not sure if they would work, and you definitely don’t know where to start.
Many people automatically think that starting a business takes huge amounts of investment capital, months of planning and an office. But they are flat out wrong. I started freelancing with $0, almost no planning (except for how I was going to get my first client), and I worked out of my home for about a year.
Here’s how I did it
It was 2010 and I had just moved back to my home town of Syracuse, NY. After closing my internet company (The New Fit) due to the recession, and my lack of knowledge in business (hear about that story here), I took an Assistant Manager job at a fitness facility. But my hunger to create a business reared it’s pretty head in just a few months.
I got together with a friend of mine and talked about starting a side project in which we traveled to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, music venues, and any other entertaining hotspots to film what made them amazing and fun. He would film the shows, and I would host them. It was called Project Rock City.
This was relatively easy to start because my friend worked for an audio visual company which had tons of camera equipment, and we didn’t need any startup capital to create the videos. Cameras were free, my ridiculously handsome face talking on camera was free, and YouTube is free.
There was just one problem: how would we make money?
We had dreams that this would grow into a huge YouTube show which would take us to some of the most fun places across America and every company would want to sponsor our show, or we would make money through YouTube advertising.
But we realized that this pipe dream was pretty far off, and we needed to make money immediately.
So we decided to use the videos that we were making at the various venues, and use them to convince those same venues to hire us to film unique YouTube videos and TV commercials to help with their marketing.
It was a little slow going but after a couple months we started to get a few clients to hire us to come in weekly or monthly to film marketing videos for them. But it didn’t stop there…
The businesses saw the need for digital marketing so they began to ask us about building websites, managing social media, helping them with search engine optimization and even designing print materials like business cards and posters.
And just like that, within 6 months, our freelancing business was earning us a few thousand dollars a month, in addition to our full time jobs.
So how can you start?
You might be in $50,000 of debt, you might have 3 kids, maybe a full time job. But even with all that piled on, with a few hours nights and weekends, you can earn a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month on the side.
It all starts with freelancing.
Freelancing, is offering your skills to help solve other peoples problems, for money. Here are some examples:
- home repairs
- computer repair
- website design
- personal training
- dog training
- cleaning services
- personal stylist
The list goes on and on. But what would someone want to hire you for? You are just the mailroom guy by day.
I’ll tell you what they will hire you for.
Because, by night you are an amazing writer who creates deep, emotional stories on your blog about life in the big city. You have 20,000 dedicated readers who relate to you and your adventures. Or maybe you are uber knowledgeable about sports, and you know everything there is to know about the big three: NFL, MLB and NBA.
Whether you are a great writer or a sports enthusiast, there are freelancing opportunities available for you. Now it just so happens that both of these skills have huge opportunities in the media like writing for local or national blogs for money; but even if you are not a writer, there are opportunities. For instance, you could find a wealthy section of your city and post on Craigslist that you cook healthy meals for people who don’t have the time to do it themselves. They don’t have to worry about making food for the entire week because you will deliver the fresh meals twice a week. Begin, to share pictures of your healthy meals and get some testimonials and, BOOM!, you are on your way.
But to find out what you can freelance for, I have a formula that I have used in the past.
Step #1: What do people come to you for help with?
This is an important first step and it’s also the part where you have to get a little creative.
I need you to think about what your friends, family and co-workers come to you for help with. Now on the surface you might not be able to think of anything, but really think about even the routine things that might not come to the surface.
Do you fix computers? Do you do handiwork around the house? Do you work on cars? Do you have a snowplow or a killer lawnmower? Are you great with kids? Are you a fitness expert? Can you cook?
And one more…have you been in the same profession for more than 10 years?
My point is that everyone has a skill. Some skills will help people get through their daily lives, and some skills will help people advance professionally.
Here is another example. Are you an educator who has been teaching for 10 years and you are getting the itch to work for yourself?
Take a page out of Sharita Lawson’s book. She started a behavioral health agency on the side, and grew it to a full time business. She had a knack for helping adolescents who needed additional care.
Or how about Adam Bellow who created eduTecher and edClipper, a blog that turned into a Pinterest-type platform for teachers. Adam was always into tech and found a way to use his interests to help other teachers.
So keep an eye on what you are helping people with on a regular basis, and don’t forget about what you do everyday at work. It might just be the key to launching your entrepreneurial journey.
Step #2: Are you task-oriented or strategy-oriented?
So there are two types of freelancing businesses you can start: task oriented and strategy oriented.
Task oriented freelancing includes things like mowing lawns, fixing cars, sewing clothes and coding websites. Strategy oriented freelancing includes things like counseling, public speaking, consulting and coaching.
The type of freelancer you are depends on the type of personality you have, kind of.
From my experience, people that are outgoing, conversational and social will be the best kind of strategy-oriented freelancers. While people that are more introverted are usually better task-oriented freelancers. Although there are always exceptions to the rule.
The best kind of freelancers are both task- and strategy-oriented. They can do the job and eventually teach others how to do it as good as they can. Just take a look at Neil Patel. Neil started by helping companies with their search engine optimization (SEO). After a great deal of success, he launched a blog called Quick Sprout, that teaches other markers how to grow their website traffic. Now Neil owns several software companies that all revolve around increasing website traffic.
Step #3: What can you get people to pay you for?
This is by far the hardest and scariest step, but it’s also the most important. A business is not a business if no one pays you.
So how do you know if people will pay for your services?
Luckily there is a little website named Craigslist, that can help you find out if anyone will pay you for your services. This works particularly well for task-oriented freelancers. Simply post your offered services under the appropriate category, and see if you get any bites.
This might work for strategy-oriented gigs too, but your personality and network will better facilitate your growth. The best way to grow your consulting or coaching business is to go to people in your professional network and look for opportunities. Go to conferences and make friends, they will be your conduits for new clients.
Remember that’s how we got clients – by going into the businesses, filming what makes their venues great, and making friends with them.
Do you want freedom to create your own life not only professionally, but personally? The only way to have complete freedom is to work for your self, and the quickest way to start making money is to freelance your existing talents to those that need it.
Do you have any questions about starting a business? Ask me on Twitter @JohnnyTimbo