Step 3 – Be Flexible

Don’t go into business thinking you know exactly what that business is going to do. The fact is that once you start trading and getting feedback from customers and seeing how your sector really operates odds are you will see signs of where you’d best fit.

Don’t ignore signs to change

Go where the market leads you – within reason of course. You may start a greeting card company, and then find that people really want local photos and content. Go with it. Odds are your ideas at the start were formed by little practical experience. Once you start getting orders in, look for patterns. See where you are making money that maybe costs you less (selling cheaper items or selling few big ticket items with great mark up). Focus on those areas.

CFIMITYM

Cash Flow Is More Important Than Your Mother

The best businesses can stand on their own two feet, at a small level, fairly early on. Venture Capitalists will like businesses that got a long way on bootstrapping (read: your money). Don’t go for big investment too early. The longer you go, and prove you can stay afloat, the more your company is worth.

Now, this step may appear to be NOT a start-up step, but something for later on. It is, in a way, but, the thing I want to get across is that from the start you have to be flexible. Don’t stick to your original idea if it is being proven to be flawed.

There Are Many Languages in the World

Following up on my last post – about there being many countries in the world – you should also remember that there are many languages. Just take a look at this:

There are 6,800 known languages spoken in the 200 countries of the world. 2,261 have writing systems (the others are only spoken) and about 300 are represented by on-line dictionaries

So – don’t think that your target market has to be in English. Even if you live in America remember that a huge section of the population speaks a language OTHER than English as either their first or second language.

I think that bears repeating:

In America remember that a huge section of the population speaks a language OTHER than English as either their first or second language.

1 in 15 in America doesn’t speak ANY (or very limited) English.  There are loads of stats I could throw your way, but basically, don’t think you need to do a site in English, even in America.

But, take a gander at these numbers:

Top 10 Languages On The Web

  1. English – 479mil
  2. Chinese – 384mil
  3. Spanish – 137mil
  4. Japanese – 96mil
  5. French – 79mil
  6. Portuguese – 73mil
  7. German – 65mil
  8. Arabic – 50mil
  9. Russian – 45mil
  10. Korean – 37mil

I think those are some pretty impressive numbers. And I can tell you from personal experience that the kinds of information that you can find on the web in English is sadly lacking even in the other top 10 languages.

Try looking up affiliate programs in a language other than English. Or Print on Demand. Or anything! Even with these staggering numbers (the top 10 represent 1.4 billion people) remember that those top 10 languages have 4.5 billion speakers! In other words, even in those languages, not even a third of them are online.

I hope you see what I am getting at.

If you string together my last post and this one it becomes – to me – clear. Learn the lessons of online business and development from the English speaking Americans. And apply it to other languages and locations.

Because remember this: your goal is to create a business you love and to make an income and a lifestyle. And, if you are a market leader in your country a larger company from a larger country may come along and snap you up when you get big enough to register on the radar.

There is a whole world out there

The internet, and internet businesses, are decidedly America-centric. But, as most of us (i.e. the vast majority of the world’s population that doesn’t live in America) know that there is a whole world out there.

Don’t Forget About the Rest of the World!

The best thing about American businesses is that you can ‘adopt’ a whole raft of business ideas and localise them to wherever you live. America is undeniably ahead in its adoption of eMedia, eCommerce and all kinds of e-Things. But – the rest of the world will follow. Eventually.

And that means a great opportunity for you. Find a business – in the area of something you love – that is going like gangbusters in America and see if that can be adopted to where you are. Odds are that it can or something like it can.

Don’t worry about creating something that the whole world will love and use. And forget about creating something for America if you don’t live there. You live… somewhere! Make something for your local area – of even your country.

Again, as an example, this is what I did with FilmAmora. I got frustrated at hearing how my US friends had this great service (NetFlix) where they could just order any movie online and the DVD (i.e legit, high quality, all the extras like commentary tracks, etc) got delivered right to their door.

So I started my own.

There are things that are different about Spain, so it took some tweaking – localisation – to make it work. But it did.

And you can do the same. Get your inspiration from big US eBrands. See how they started out, what their good first steps were and what their early mistakes were. Learn from them, imitate them, develop and localise them.

Do What You Love – an example

Recently I read a great interview on JetSetCitizen.com. This is an interesting site that talks about people who are trying to create a business that will let them travel the world while still making (preferably a huge) income. Whether they intend to or not they prove just how difficult this is – on many levels. It’s not just the creating a business, but, if that’s not hard enough, a lot of people get out there and realise that they are not the type to travel the world ad infinitum or to even live in a place other than they grew up in!

People are creatures of habit. And some people – whether they want to admin it or not – like the habit they are in.

Right now you are doing what you want to

Anyway, on JetSetCitizen they have a great interview with Pat Flynn.

Now, in general, I am totally against this whole idea that you can make a fortune by doing next to nothing! All these sites – usually affiliate sites – that sell programs on how you can make easy money on the internet are really just going to tell you that best way to do it is to create some content about making money and sell it to other suckers.

But, Pat Flynn, I feel is in a different space. If you read the interview he started out by doing something he loved – creating a blog about Architecture. Also, he states:

“I believe that the more you can help others, the more successful and profitable you will be.”

So there you have it.

Pat’s a good example of following what you love AND providing a real service. I hope you can do the same!

Step 2 – Fill a need

So we’ve covered step 1. Your business should stem from something you love, passionately.

The next step is really to figure out what to do. And I believe that comes from discovering a need. Not a ‘nice to have’ but a real need. A gap in the market.

How to discover this? I won’t say it’s easy, but, if you really love this topic then odds are that you have the answer inside you. What do YOU want or need when it comes to this area?

Be sure that it is a real need.

For instance, let’s say you love cricket (the sport). And no cricket website let’s you find a player’s statistics based on name. This is not a need. Any existing sport website that carries cricket could add this feature. But if no one was writing or covering your favourite league, or doing it in your language, then THAT is a need.

I read some business book recently that said ‘you are not the customer’. And this is true, but, at the beginning you have to take that role. You have to satisfy your own desires for this topic.

The Greater Good

Even better than finding a solution that will satisfy you is to find a solution that will help society in general. If you can find something that will ease social problems, help underpriveledged people or societies then you are really onto something and a special person.

Fulfilling the need should be priority #1. That IS your business. Write it on a piece of paper and stick it on the wall.

Step 1 – The idea

One note about this site. I am not talking about starting one of the ‘I make x in a year through online passive income’ type websites. That isn’t a business. I am talking about starting a company that will provide a service to local and perhaps international customers on an ongoing basis.

A lot of people like the idea of starting their own business. No, they probably don’t understand all the work that will be needed, or how much time, effort and money it is going to take. But they still love the idea.

But while they may know they want to start a business they don’t know what business! So, for me the first step is to come up with some rules about what would make a good business idea.

RULE 1: DO WHAT YOU LOVE

I really can’t stress this enough. You must start a business that has something to do with a passionate interest – a hobby is always a good place to start. If you are willing to spend time on it without being paid, think how great it would be to GET paid!

The reasons behind this rule are many, but, in short if you don’t love it you won’t have much chance in long term survival nor will you probably bring anything new to the table. Remember, the odds of you creating a truly unique idea that not only fills a need (gosh, can you guess what rule 2 will be!) but also is without competition. So, you’ll need to have great insight into the area. And that (in my experience) only comes from passion.

An Example

For example, I started FilmAmora.com for one simple reason: I loved movies and I wanted a mail-order DVD rental company like my friends were using in Canada, US and the UK. Now, I knew a fair amount about website development and I also knew a lot about films and the business of film distribution. But, I had no idea how much I had to learn to create a business like FilmAmora. If I hadn’t LOVED what I was doing I never could have carried on.

So, if you love books or animals or renovating houses… all things can become a business. Think about what you spend your free time (or work time!) thinking about. That’s going to be a good place to start.

Oh – my only limitation here is that ideally what you like should be legal and not closely tied with a corporate identity (i.e. world’s #1 Pepsi drinker – that’s a corporate example, not the illegal one).

So, that’s the first step to starting your business – a business about something that interests you.

Coming Soon – just about there

I have a proven background in business – from the bottom up. I’ve been a grunt and now I am the CEO of a successful company. I hope that through that I can help you follow your dreams and start a company and make it a success.

Some of you have asked ‘where’s the content?’. Well, I am almost ready to start posting the weekly blogposts that cover part one – “Choosing a line of Business”.

I know some of you out there want to be in business but don’t know what to do. Over the course of a few posts I’ll delve into what I think are the keys (they’re not secrets!) to creating a business that lasts and will make money.

Speaking out against Hype

I am not a proponent of these ‘passive income’, ‘internet marketing’ ideas and websites. I think you can probably count on one (maybe both) hands the people that have really made money with these things. And do you want to know HOW they made money (shhh – here IS the big secret) they made money by selling their business ideas to other people. i.e. their business is selling you things to get you into business. So the only advice they can really offer is to sell on their ideas (affiliate marketing) or start your own internet business consultancy.

But at the end of the line someone, somewhere has to actually do work! Never forget that. If you can show me someone, apart from a lottery winner, who made a lot of money with no work I’d like to hear about it.

Anyway, rant over.

Nothing to buy

What I am trying to get across is that I am not here to sell you something. Truth is I literally don’t have anything to sell! No ebooks, no affiliates programs, etc etc (though if you live in Spain I strongly recommend signing up for FilmAmora.com – Spain’s leading mail order DVD rental company!)

I have a proven background in business – from the bottom up. I’ve been a grunt and now I am the CEO of a successful company. I hope that through that I can help you follow your dreams and start a company and make it a success.

Oh – and I am not in the USA! There is a lack of info out here on doing things outside of the world’s greatest temple to consumer culture.

So – stay tuned. Content starts soon!

What’s all this then?

Welcome to my new blog.

What I am going to try and do on here is stick to a basic theme of setting up and running  a small business. Both virtually (i.e. online) and the logistics and practicalities of running a real business.

My backdrop for doing this will primarily be the development and evolution of FilmAmora.com. FilmAmora is Spain’s premier mail-order DVD rental website. (think Netflix if you live in America or LoveFilm if you live in Northern Europe). This is a new concept to Spain and I’ll go through the trials and tribulations I had in creating, developing and marketing the business.

Along the way I hope to have some guests (through postings or interviews) that will shed some light on the process.

As we are based in Spain some of the practical information may only apply to people who’s business is also here, but, I would think that certainly a lot of the same paperwork is needed in Europe and to a lesser degree elsewhere. But, as paperwork will not be the focus of this blog (god knows I have enough of that outside this blog!) then hopefully you’ll find the rest of the info applicable no matter where you are.

Welcome and I hope I can be of assistance.