Hiya Steppers! Kurt here again from Shoestring101. In my last guest post here on Growmap, we talked about 7 Reasons to Start Your Business on a Shoestring.
The reason I pointed that out was to talk with you TODAY about this trap most small business starter-uppers fall into:
It’s called “PLAYING business”.
“Playing Business” – A Slippery Slope
Say you have an idea for a business. What do you do next?
Some folks would think of a catchy name. Okay, fine… I’ll GIVE you that one. It’s nice to name a business idea because it starts to feel more “real” after you do.
But after the novelty wears off and we start thinking about “getting serious”… making our fledgling business into a living breathing, profit making animal… what do most people do next?
You guessed it:
- They have a logo designed
- They order business cards
- They get a domain name
- And pay for website hosting
- They have polo shirts made
- Or pens
- Or refrigerator magnets
Maybe they even register a trade name or get legal documents drawn up; they incorporate or get an LLC or something.
Then what? Now they try and get a loan. Or partners. Or investors. So, million dollar question: did you notice what all those “trappings” of being in business had in common?
Not a single one of them, by its own virtue, makes sales.
Think about that for a minute. We’ve only just had an IDEA. And now we’ve spent nearly a thousand dollars… or MORE… before even making a sale.
Forgive my English, but that’s bass-ackwards.
Question: how do we even know
if this business idea is any good?
In my book, “Get Paid TODAY: Structure Your Small Business to be Profitable from DAY ONE”, I talk about how to test your small business idea for free and actually make sales with it BEFORE buying business cards or any other unnecessary expenses.
Who Needs Business Cards Anyway?
There’s a story in there from my actual experience: as I was going through a painful divorce in 2002, my martial arts studio was being restructured as part of the proceedings. I needed to replace a full time income immediately.
I had an idea about starting a window cleaning company. But how could I know if it would be a success?
Between you and me, I think it was God that rescued me from this seemingly hopeless situation. I distinctly remember having the impression that I should wash the windows at a local coffee shop.
So… I DID.
The squeegee, buckets, stripwasher and solution I already had; with 3,000 square feet of retail space in my karate studio, the piles of mirrors and windows facing the street needed constant attention.
As I was putting the finishing touches on a the coffee shop’s door, a fella was leaving and complimented me on the job. “Nice work!” he said. “Tell me, do you do residential?”
“Uh… YES sir, I do…”
“Give me your card.”
I reached in my pocket for my wallet. I was going to give him one of my cards for my martial arts studio; at least that would look kind of professional.
But I didn’t have one in there. I had given my last one out.
“Never mind,” he said. “Here’s MY card.”
I called Gary R. later that day and set up my first window cleaning job: $243 for a day’s work. Can I tell you a secret? I NEVER DID get business cards printed up for that window cleaning company.
Because that day I realized a secret. Giving out MY business card was a crapshoot… it relies on the CUSTOMER to keep track of the card and remember to call me. I don’t like taking chances like that.
I built that business into not only a full-time income for myself, but also created a number of jobs for others. It’s almost completely built on free methods of advertising. Employees are trained that, if they are approached by a potential customer…they ask THE CUSTOMER for THEIR contact information.
That info goes into our database and WE contact THEM. Makes sense, right?
Now I know… it does make sense at some point for most business owners to have cards. I’m just saying that it’s not necessary at first.
Nowhere NEAR as necessary as making a few sales… FIRST… to know for certain whether you really even HAVE a business. I hope this is making sense to you.
On the blog at http://www.shoestring101.com I have a neat little story about Noah Kagan, a trainer of entrepreneurs that took quite an impressive challenge:
Noah boasted that he would be able to go from
ZERO to one thousand dollars profit in 24 hours.
That’s concept to one grand in profit in ONE DAY.
Wanna be amazed? He actually pulled it off.
I’m sure that the “Sumo Jerky” company has business cards now… but Noah didn’t have time to print ’em up
during that first revolution of the planet.
He just barely had time to put together an awesome system for selling, of all things… a subscription for beef jerky. Read the whole story here: http://bit.ly/1gakWJM
Look forward to chatting again soon! ‘Til then,
Latest posts by Kurt Frankenberg (see all)
- 7 Reasons to Start Your Business on a Shoestring - February 25, 2015
- Why It’s a BAD Idea to Order Business Cards #SmBiz #FAIL - January 15, 2014