If you’ve ever considered starting your dream business, you’re not alone. Michael Gerber, the author of The E-Myth Revisited, called it the “entrepreneurial seizure.” I have to admit, I’ve experienced it a time or two as a business owner and actually grew up in what I call a “small business family,” working in my father’s business as a teenager.
In fact, I learned how to work mowing the lawn at home and sweeping the floors of my Dad’s warehouse. He was adamant that I learn a good work ethic, making sure that I understood the right way to both mow and sweep. I didn’t appreciate at the time that there was a right way and a wrong way to do either—those lessons are more meaningful to me now than I think they were then.
Having experienced the act of starting a business from scratch myself, I can share a few lessons I learned along the way. Taking the entrepreneurial leap should be a decision based on rational analysis rather than hope. As much as possible, grasp the sacrifices you may have to make so you can determine if the risk is worth the reward.
Fortunately, in a study conducted not too long ago, 90 percent of the business owners said they would do it again and never look back.
Before you entertain the idea of beginning your own entrepreneurship, here are some points to consider:
I met an inventor who had broken his arm. To ease the discomfort from itching, he drilled a hole in his cast so he could blow cool air into it with a hairdryer. He decided to make an adapter that could be placed in a cast by a doctor. Although it only cost him about $.30 to make, he charged $25. “Because,” he said, “doctors won’t buy it if it’s too cheap.”
I learned that you can price things too low as well as too high and make it more difficult to sell your product.
Participate in your community events by volunteering, setting up at street fairs, holding a fundraising event. Participate in Small Business Saturday® and Shop Small®. Or, start small and simple with your marketing by sending a direct mail piece that offers a new customer discount. Valpak offers their Blue Envelope full of local business coupons that households anticipate receiving. Invite your community to a grand opening or holiday event with a postcard.
In the very beginning, when my business was very small and we didn’t have a budget for the large direct mail campaign we wanted, my partners and I created our own postcards, addressed and stamped them after work on Monday, and deliver them to the post office. For somewhere around $100 every week we were able to send out postcards to customers and prospects to remind them we were there and introduce our weekly special. Like clockwork, the phones started ringing on Wednesday as our postcard arrived in their mailbox. Eventually, we had the budget for the large-scale direct mail campaign.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but you have to do it. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try something new. And, don’t be afraid to tackle something yourself. I think one of the things that made our postcard so successful was that it didn’t look slick and overproduced. It looked like exactly what it was, something we were doing ourselves.
There’s nothing easy about starting your own business. It takes hard work, determination, commitment, vision, and sacrifice, but it’s also very rewarding. Doing your research and knowing what to expect will help you decide if business ownership is right for you. If it is, get out there and make your dream a reality.
If you’ve decided that business ownership is something you want to make a reality, or you’re already there, Valpak is here to help you grow. With over 145 franchise offices across the United States and Canada, there’s a Valpak marketing expert near you. Download our Media Kit* and contact us today!
Ty Kiisel is a contributing author focusing on small business financing at OnDeck, a technology company solving small business’s biggest challenge: access to capital. With over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, Ty shares personal experiences and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible. OnDeck can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.