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7 Essential Steps to Start Making a Living Doing What You Love (Finally!)

7 Essential Steps to Start Making a Living Doing What You Love (Finally!)

Does this sound like you?

You go to work each day. And each day you do, you watch the clock. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting for the clock to strike 5 p.m.

That’s when you get to go home and devote your time to what you truly love doing. That thing that brings you joy. That thing everyone tells you you’re so fantastic at. That thing you wish you could do every day instead of working.

If this sounds anything like you, don’t despair. You can make a living doing what you love.

Take the following essential steps to transform your passion into a business that frees you from that soul-sucking job, and enables you to live the life of your dreams.

1. Talk yourself out of it

Let’s face facts. The minute you decide you’ll start a business doing what you love, you’ll face naysayers. People will question your choice. They’ll give you all the reasons why you shouldn’t start down this path. They’ll tell you how risky it is, and point out all the people who tried but couldn’t make it work.

So beat them to the punch. Make a list of all the reasons why you shouldn’t start your business. Then for each of those reasons, write down what you will do to overcome that obstacle.

Let’s say the excuse is you don’t have enough time in your schedule. Your solution could be: “Cut out two hours of television a day to work on my business.”

By putting a plan in place to overcome the common objections that arise, you’ll better position yourself to smother those voices of dissent.

Bonus points: Write down all the reasons why you should move forward with your dream (freeing your soul from your current job should be on that list). Refer back to these compelling reasons whenever you need a push to keep going.

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And speaking of televisions, the next step explains what to do with yours.

2. Throw your TV out the window

Building a business takes time. And doing it right takes more time. And since all of us have access to only twenty-four hours in a day, time is a scarce resource.

Don’t fret though. All is not lost. I’ll bet you can find tons of extra time in your day if you cut out activities that don’t advance you toward making a living doing what you love.

Television is an easy thing to cut out. Yeah, you may not be able to talk about what happened on the latest episodes of Scandal or Game of Thrones, but you will be able to see tangible progress you’re making toward getting your business off the ground. That’s ten times more satisfying.

TV isn’t your time suck? Perhaps social media is. Whatever it is, take inventory of how you spend your existing time, and find two activities you can either cut out altogether, or significantly reduce. Find at least two hours in your day to free up.

Bonus points: Maximize your time by multi-tasking during activities that don’t require a ton of mental energy. Listen to a podcast while you cook, or do some research while you eat. You’ll find plenty of time when you’re hungry to find it.

3. Say adiós to your friends

As you get laser focused on building your dream business, you’ll need some new friends. People who will be invaluable to helping you reach your goals.

That doesn’t mean you have to ditch your existing friends (unless they’re unsupportive of your goals). You’ll just spend less time with them for a while, as you get cozy with the new additions to your friend list.

Write down at least three folks you need to add to your inner circle. Be sure to include the following three people:

  • A mentor, someone who is currently doing what you wish to do. They’ll guide you along the right path, and give you advice on what to do and what not to do.
  • A trainer, someone to push you beyond where you think you can go, hold you accountable, and kick your butt into shape when necessary.
  • And a peer, someone who is working toward similar goals. They’ll be there for support, venting sessions, and to share tips.

Bonus points: Let your current friends know what you’re working on. Explain that they’ll probably see you a bit less for a little while as you work toward your goal.

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Not only will they appreciate the advance warning before you stop showing up at happy hour, but they should also become a source of encouragement for you to move forward.

Besides, not being the social butterfly will help you with the next step.

4. Develop a taste for beans and potatoes

Your new business will need some upfront investment to get started. And once you do launch, arriving at the point where you can fully replace the income from your existing job will take some time.

So save your money. Pinch pennies. Look for areas to cut back, and put extra income aside as seed money for your business. Live below your means.

Create a budget of the necessities you need to pay for on a monthly basis (Starbucks is not a necessity). Then for anything else that doesn’t make the must-have list, cut it out of your budget and save that money.

The extra money will accumulate quickly and fuel your business. It can also help cover your expenses while you’re waiting for the sales to pour in.

Bonus points: Find creative ways to make necessary bills even smaller. You have to eat, right? Search for ways you can still feed yourself well-balanced, healthy meals at a lower price. And since you’ll have to leave your house from time to time, consider carpooling or taking public transportation to get to and from work to reduce transportation costs.

5. Acknowledge your ignorance

To make a living doing what you love, switch your approach from that of a hobbyist, to that of a professional. This will include investing time to study and get insanely good at your craft. You’ll also need to learn as much as you can about the business of your business.

In his best-selling book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell laid out the case for how to operate in excellence:

“Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.”

Your journey to business success will run much more smoothly when you prepare.

So in addition to practicing your craft, study your competitors to see who is most successful and why. Pay attention to why others may not have done well in the past. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to create the ideal business plan.

Bonus points: Commit yourself to working on your craft for at least thirty minutes a day for the next month. That dedicated time of learning how to get even better at what you do will set you apart from others in your field.

It will also put you in a better position to tackle the next step.

6. Get your freak on

Did you know that there are more than 70,000 yoga instructors in North America? If your dream business involved teaching yoga, you would need to identify a unique reason why students should choose you, instead of one of the many other instructors.

The same goes for any business. To get your customers to keep coming back, you must give them a compelling reason to choose you instead of someone else.

As part of your preparation process, make a list of at least three things that make you different from other available options to meet your customers’ needs. Next, choose which of those things matters most to the customers you want to serve.

Bonus points: Once you’ve got that one thing that truly makes you different, assess if you could add another skill to your wheelhouse to make your business even more attractive to your customers.

7. Burn your boats

To transition from your current job to running your dream business, at some point you will have to quit that job. Sure, you could do work on nights and weekends to get your business going, but at some point you will need to make the full-time business leap for you to truly start making a living with it. A living where you don’t have to count your pennies before going to dinner with your friends.

I get it. Holding on to your job is safe. It’s nice knowing a paycheck will come on the first and fifteenth of each month. But if you’re not careful, that comfort will keep you stuck in a job you loathe rather than building the life you love.

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So to make sure you don’t get stuck, you’ve got to burn your boats.

Back in the 1500s when Hernan Cortez led his army of men in a conquest of Mexico, he ordered that the boats they arrived in be burned. He did this to prevent anyone from turning back and abandoning the mission.

In essence, he ensured commitment to the battle, by eliminating all opportunity to abort the assignment.

Burn your boats by writing your resignation letter. Set a date for when you will kiss your job goodbye. Maybe that’s six months or a year from now. Just set a date.

To help you feel more comfortable about picking the time, make a list of all the activities and milestones you need to complete before transitioning. Then estimate the time needed to get it all done. Use that as the date for submitting your letter.

Bonus points: After you write the letter, set it to send automatically from your email account on the date you plan to leave. Set it, then forget about it as you get to work on your business. That way, in six months when that lovely email goes out, your boats will be blazing.

Time to stop watching the clock

Your dream of getting paid to do what you love is in reach. You can totally make it your reality, you just need to follow these essential steps.

Then instead of watching the clock all day, you’ll just blissfully stand still for a bit—so you can savor the amazing feelings that come with making a living doing what you love.

Featured photo credit: Man with guitar via gratisography.com

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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