The Single-Most Important Thing To Do When Starting Your Business

I'm always on the lookout for ways to help you start and grow your spare-time business.

What I'll tell you about today may be the most important lesson along those lines I could share. In fact, it leapt from the page and grabbed me by the collar when I was reading Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat by Michael Masterson.

It's the single most important thing for you to do when starting your spare-time business. It's simple, too:

Start making sales!

Create cash flow for your business. Collect money in exchange for your product or service.

Not only that, do it in a way where your marketing and sales efforts pay for themselves. They don't even have to pay your extra expenses yet. Just make sure that when a customer places an order and you fulfill the product plus pay the cost of marketing, you're not losing money on every customer that does business with you.

If you're able to do this … to make sales without losing money and maybe even making a bit … and do it over and over and over again, everything else will follow.

On the other hand, if you've spent years developing the "perfect" product, refined your bookkeeping system, set up a beautiful workspace, gotten sharp business cards, and done everything else to make your new business "professional-looking" … yet you've never made a sale … all you've created for yourself is a time and money pit, NOT a business!

See how simple this makes starting your spare-time business, or refocusing if you've been doing it for a while without as much success as you'd like?

Find out what it takes to make a sale without losing money. And to make another. And another. And start doing it!

Here's how to start making sales

The big question then is how you start making sales in your spare-time business. And Masterson has a recommendation there, too. In fact, you can start making sales in three steps.

  1. Find something people want and will pay for.

    I've heard this called the "starving crowd" approach. Success comes far easier to those who harness and fill an existing desire, than it does to those who try to create one. Why take the uphill approach? Résumés are in high demand right now because of high unemployment. Try résumé writing. Or, if you're doing self-publishing, follow the directions in the AWAI self-publishing program to ensure you're publishing on a high-demand topic. No matter how you do it, ensure you're matching the product you want to sell to a market hungry for your product.

  2. Find a way to supply it.

    If you're selling a service, you'll probably have to perform it yourself in the beginning. (You might choose to outsource later.) If you're selling a product, you'll have to create it yourself or find someone who can supply it at a cost that allows you to make a profit. Either way, once you've identified a product to sell, you need to make sure you can deliver when you make the sale.

  3. Sell it to the people who want it.

    Here's the key step. Once you've identified a market and a product you can take to that market, there's just one more thing to do. Find out where the people in your market spend their time. Go there. And make an offer to provide the product to them. You could do it in person or much more efficiently with direct marketing that targets potential buyers with a relevant sales pitch in high volume.

Doing this makes business more fun

As you start to ramp this up, things will become more efficient. You'll be netting a little bit off every sale, which will take care of your expenses and give you extra income to outsource some of the tasks you decide you don’t want to do.

This will give you the opportunity to work on unique and innovative ways to grow your business, and make more sales, to more customers, more often. (For me, that’s when the fun starts!)

Your spare-time biz will grow and grow until you first supplement your current income. Then maybe replace it. And who knows ̶ eventually your spare-time biz could turn into a gig where you earn as much in a month as you used to earn in a year. Or more.

Before you know it, you'll be worrying about the later chapters in Ready, Fire, Aim where Masterson tells you how to take businesses from $1 million to $10 million and beyond.

Yet it all starts with something much smaller.

Making your first sale, and the next, and the next … Then all else follows.

Oh, and if you haven't picked up a copy of Ready, Fire, Aim yet, do so now and make 2010 your best year ever!

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Published: December 22, 2009

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