Being inspired – patterns of success

I’ve talked a lot now about the getting the idea. One thing you have to look at to be successful is how other people became successful.

In generic terms – find someone or some business you really admire (for the right reason – because it interests you AND it made money, not just because it made money). See how they progressed. How the company started. What mistakes they made, what early successes they stumbled across.

After doing this with a few businesses you’ll start to see a pattern.

  • Start small
  • Work hard
  • Look for sympathetic partners – be choosy!
  • Don’t outsource core components – learn them yourselves
  • Build credibility & reputation
  • Be flexible

Those are the same for every successful business I know – big or small!

That should do it for the series on developing a business idea. If you want to chat, feel free to post comments – I’d love the feedback!

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 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.