Mentality of Shoestring Entrepreneurship

So you want to start a business… before you dive in it is a good idea to spend some time with a pen and pencil and a blank sheet of paper (or knock it out on your keyboard.)  Take some time and get your though out of your head and onto paper or a word processor.  This is going get your gears turning and is great for clarifying ideas or further defining your ideas into something more actionable.

Try to keep things somewhat simple, don’t get bogged down in the details just yet.  This is simply your first step at taking action.  People who write their ideas down are more likely to take action than people who just leave their thoughts floating around in their head.  Capture that though, put it to paper or computer screen.  If nothing else this is a more tangible process of working with an idea than merely thinking about it.  So this is what I started with.

Why do you want to start your own business?

My goal in starting a business ultimately is to achieve more freedom.  I want the freedom to chose what I want to do for money and the freedom to dedicate as much or as little time as I desire to my business.  I understand this involves more risk (no guarantee of a steady paycheck) but I think I will be more driven working toward something I am interested in. The alternative is to work a job until retirement and be delegated tasks that someone else (boss, business, corporation, etc.) is interested in.

What do you have of value to offer your potential customer?

This one is not as hard as I initially thought. Business can be simplified to offering something of value to someone who needs or wants it.  Value comes in the form of either a good or a service or a combination of both.  The frozen pizza you bought at the grocery store last week is a good.  The Pizza Hut pizza you are having delivered is a good and a service.  Having your oil changed is a service.  I think almost everyone has goods that they can start their business with.  This is as simple as selling things that you already own but not longer want or need.  This is how I am starting out the process of funding my own business.

Take a look around your house or apartment and identify some stuff that you would be willing to part with in order to fund your business endeavors.  I tried to view everything as either an asset or a liability.  I categorize an asset as something that makes you money or saves you time.  My computer for instance I consider an asset because I can use it to sell things on Amazon and eBay.  However my PS3 I considered a liability because it really takes my time and does not make me money or save me time in anyway.  Is it fun?  Sure it is, but I want the freedom that comes with working for myself more than I want to have some momentary fun playing Call of Duty or watching a movie.  Now I’m not saying you need to be this extreme with finding things to sell around the house but that has been my mentality.  You could make up a simple rule like “If I haven’t used this in the last 6 months, 3 months, etc., then I will sell it.”  I will dig further into why I took on this mentality but I would say everyone has a few thousand dollars worth of “stuff” they could sell that they really don’t need.  You could then save this couple thousand dollars and use it to acquire more assets that will make you more money down the line such as websites that can be monetized.  Or you could use the couple thousand dollars to purchase more product to in turn sell for a profit and keep growing your money until you have streamlined things enough and are bringing about a recurring income stream to the point where you could quit your job and focus full time on your own business.  I believe this model is very doable if you are disciplined enough to dedicate those initial funds you got from selling some of your stuff into more profitable actives while working whatever job you have now.

I am still working and brainstorming this one out for a long term sustainable product or service that I want to offer people.  But in the mean time I am focusing on selling product and in the beginning I have been selling my stuff that I know longer wanted or needed.  I have begun sourcing my own products from thrift stores as well and selling them on eBay.  This is known as picking and there are tons of videos on YouTube that will teach you what to look for and what is profitable.  I know a lot of people sell clothing, coffee mugs, books, games, cds and many more different “products” on eBay and Amazon that they sourced from garage sales, book sales, flea markets, and other cheap places.  I will go into more detail on how to do this in further posts.

Who is your potential customer?

Right now, for me anyway, this is a pretty easy one.  Whoever searches for my item on eBay or Amazon.  You really do not have to put much thought into this when selling physical products online because more often than not your customers are searching for your product prior to purchasing it from you.  However some customers will find your product by browsing, in which case it would be important what category you listed your item in.

What and how much will you need to get started?

How much time can you expect to be able to dedicate to your business in the beginning?