Have you ever taken a leap into the unknown without fully considering all that might be in store?
I have. Twice. The first time was when I left my full-time job to start my creative management agency in 2006; the second was when I transitioned into a completely new industry and launched my coaching business. On both occasions, I had a vivid vision of the fulfillment, creative expression and enrichment my new life would afford me. And I got all I wished for, and then some. But what my fantasy didn’t account for was the messiness, challenges and vulnerability that come with the territory. While you can never eliminate those things (nor would you want to, they’re part of the fun!), there are steps you can take, before you leap, to give your business the best shot at being profitable right away.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you make the leap:
- Is my business idea viable?
I’ve attended many conferences and programs where there are hundreds of purpose-driven creative entrepreneurs, all brimming with passion and commitment to their dream. But not every idea is a money maker, which is of paramount importance if this is going to support you. Here are some questions that will help you determine if your idea is viable:
- Who is your target client and do they have money?
- What problem does you service or product solve?
- Is it enough of a problem that people would pay money to make it disappear?
- What makes you credible? Do you have expertise or experience in this field?
- Has anyone ever paid you for it before?
- Are others making money doing the same thing? People often believe they have to have an original idea, but having competition is a good thing: it shows there’s a market for what you have to offer.
Action item: Gather a list of your ideal clients and send them a short survey (5-7 questions) using a free service like survey gizmo. Real feedback from real prospects trumps assumptions every time.
- How will I charge for my work?
Many creative entrepreneurs and freelancers charge way too little for their expertise, trapping them in a miserable cycle of working long hours to make less than they made in their day job. As a business coach for creative professionals, one of the first things I do is look at how my clients make money, what they charge, and invariable counsel them to raise their rates. And while they’re usually terrified at the prospect, the feeling of empowerment and control they experience when they ask for – and get – that higher rate is amazing. Knowing what you need to make, how many billable hours you have, and how that breaks down to a day rate will save you months or years working for too little, so let’s get you started on the right track…..
Action item: Click here to access my free guide How to find high-quality clients and get paid what you’re worth and do exercise #6, Determine your rate. There’s even a nifty little calculator built in to make it easy-peasy.
- Who is in my network?
Your network is your best friend. Think if it this way, if you know 100 people, and they all know 100 people, and those people all know 100 people, well, that’s a lot of people! Remember, it’s a two-way street, so you need to give as much as you get. Look for ways you can support your people and karma will make sure the good stuff flows right back to you.
Action item: Write an email (or better yet, a letter) to the people in your network who already know, like and trust you. Tell them what you’re doing, who an ideal client would be, and ask them to refer anyone they think would be a good fit. End with a sincere offer to do the same for them.
- Who is on my team?
“Team? I don’t have a team!” you might cry. Maybe not officially, but you have LOTS of people who want to support you in your venture. Blazing trails is hard and having people in your corner helps a lot.
Action item: Start an accountability group with like-minded freelancers or entrepreneurs, seek mentorship (even if it’s just requesting 20 minutes of time with someone you saw on a panel), or look for ways you can swap services with other professionals (note of caution: only barter if you really want, need, and would otherwise pay for that service).
What’s my priority?
One of the challenges many entrepreneurs face is not knowing what to do first. Here’s the quick answer to that: your priorities are always money-generating opportunities. If someone has expressed an interest in working with you, make sure you get them a proposal and outline next steps.
Action item: Identify what actions would generate income most quickly, write a list of actions you need to take, and block out time in your calendar to get them done.
Are you ready to quit your day job, but would like some advice and support before taking the leap? I’d like to to offer you a free 30-minute Entrepreneurial Dream Assessment where we’ll dive into the details, figure out where the gaps are, and plan your next steps.
Click here and let’s get you started on the path to your entrepreneurial dream!