It is very easy to come up with an idea and then just start running with it. The world is full of people with great ideas. But in order to be successful, you need to have more than an idea, you need to have a plan. You also need to have a clear line of products or services for your potential clients.
Most businesses evolve over time, and you are very likely to start out in one business and end up in a different business entirely. The biggest hurdle is to decide what you are (or are not).
When I first started my business, I had the bright idea to be “support services” for real estate professionals. I basically offered anything and everything for marketing and office assistance for Realtors. In theory, that is a great, big market. The downside is that I was basically a hodgepodge of different things to different people but not really focused on anything. I was jack of all trades, master of none.
When you are first starting out, it is great to be open to the universe, but it is silly to try to be everything to everyone. First, people don’t respect your expertise, and they start to think of you as more of an assistant. Assistants and consultants are two different things, and are compensated as such.
After a few disastrous projects (underpriced and much more work than I anticipated), I learned to better set up my pricing structure and refine my offerings. Instead of offering any and all support services, I started figuring out what services were best suited to me, made the most money, and increased my standing with my clients.
I also changed my branding. Instead of telling people what I do when they ask me, “I provide x, y, and z,” or “I do marketing for agents,” I introduce myself as a Business Development Consultant, specializing in office support and online marketing. This opens the possibilities for other markets, but also helps me approach the conversation with a sense of confidence and elevates my business to a different level.
If you start off in this vein, you learn to attract the right clients, and helps you keep out of the mindset that “If I am getting paid, it is worth it.” Knowing what you really want to offer and having the guts to market yourself as expert in a particular field is always a little scary. Everyone is a guru nowadays. But really, if you know what you are doing, it will convey to your prospective clients in the way that you present yourself and your offerings (products or services).
They key is to know exactly what you plan to do, and then start building your business around the core concept (or core competencies). Once you have a clear picture, it is easier to start to market yourself and your business.
Next Up – The Business Plan