In a world teeming with entrepreneurial ambitions, where 4.4 million businesses emerge annually in the United States, I jumped on my first business venture seven years ago. Driven by impatience to see it flourish quickly rather than meticulously, I ended up spending more money than necessary.
Today, however, countless opportunities exist to start a business for $1,000 or less. Sadly, many aspiring entrepreneurs hesitate due to the misconception that substantial capital is essential. And even when they do take the plunge, they often waste resources on unnecessary expenses.
As a financial and business coach, I help new entrepreneurs avoid these costly mistakes and fast-track their journey to profitability. Let me share three common pitfalls to steer clear of when building your next side hustle.
Pretty, Perfect Website Isn’t Everything
The price of my folly amounted to a staggering $10,000 when I started working on the inaugural of my business venture – a fashion rental company. Eager to establish my online presence, I enlisted the help of a developer to construct a website, only to realize later that my initial business model faltered in reality.
If you find yourself akin to numerous budding side hustlers, especially women entrepreneurs, the insidious imposter syndrome may hinder you from mustering the courage to charge for your services. Instead, I observe countless novices fixating on creating an aesthetically pleasing website, mistakenly believing that it alone with attract hordes of new customers rather than engaging in genuine conversations with real individuals.
Looking back, I now realize that I could have achieved comparable online visibility without incurring exorbitant costs by simply opting for a straightforward landing page or even a business profile on platforms like Yelp.
These simpler alternatives would have sufficed in generating initial customer leads for my business rather than rendering a whole website for it. In fact, I discovered an off-the-shelf solution that met my needs perfectly, available for a mere $99 per month, negating the need for a customized website altogether!
Sell to First Five Real Customer
While a business plan may not be essential to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey, the presence of genuine, paying customers who aren’t merely friends or family is crucial. Reflecting on my own experience as a professional speaker, I made the costly mistake of investing thousands of dollars in a company that promised me 400 qualified leads for speaking engagements. Unfortunately, this endeavor resulted in only two paying gigs, primarily due to outdated contact information and my initial ineptitude as a salesperson.
The world of sales can be intimidating, but it’s better to start small than not at all. To attract individuals beyond my social circle and gather valuable data about my business process, I began offering free speaking engagements, granting myself permission to do so. This approach allowed me to test various promotional strategies and refine my content for future engagements.
After my first five speaking gigs, I gradually increased my fee to $99, eventually progressing to customers who were willing to pay $1,000 for my services. It’s important to consider any processing fees imposed by the platform you choose and factor them into your pricing structure.
However, a lead list or sales service alone is ineffective if you lack clarity regarding your offering and how to make it irresistible to customers. During this pilot phase, I expanded my repertoire of speaking topics, recorded valuable content, and created bonus materials that enhanced the value I provided, ultimately justifying an increase in my speaking fees.
Keep Execution Over Inspiration
Early on in my current business, I fell into the costly trap of paying $6,000 for a sales coach who failed to deliver what I had anticipated. However, the failure was not solely due to their shortcomings but also stemmed from my own lack of a clear business model.
Starting a side hustle doesn’t have to be complicated. Think back to a simple childhood endeavor like running a lemonade stand or holding a garage sale to declutter.
However, the self-help and coaching industry has witnessed exponential growth, leading newcomers to believe it’s more complex than it actually is. In 2019, the International Coaching Federation reported a total industry revenue of $2.849 billion, reflecting a 21% increase since 2015.
During a recent financial education session, one of my students, an aspiring entrepreneur, pondered whether it was wise to purchase a course from a marketing guru, convinced it would greatly benefit her business.
Curiously, I inquired about the number of courses she had previously bought and whether she had completed any of them, implementing the lessons learned. Sheepishly, she admitted to not finishing any. In such cases, I refer to these individuals as having “inspiration addiction.”
For all the new entrepreneurs, I urge caution in selecting the right sources for education and guidance when starting a business. It’s essential to vet the credibility and value of the content provided.
Moreover, aspiring business owners should remember that simply buying into the dream of entrepreneurship is not enough – one must also possess the necessary skills to implement profitable actions.
That said, investing in business education can be beneficial, particularly in areas such as sales, marketing, and personal finance, as it can expedite the growth of a side hustle. However, it is crucial for individuals to make a personal commitment to follow through with these programs and chase the aims that they have chosen to invest in.