Becoming an entrepreneur is the millennial version of wanting to become a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer several decades ago. Although, more accurately, millennials still want to be any of these professions. They just want to go about it in an enterprising manner. In other words, they want to turn their passion into profit.
If you find yourself at this crossroad, you should know that it requires a lot of introspection. So make sure you set aside time to consider its pros and cons.
Here are some important questions that you can use as a guide in your decision-making:
Are you ready to get out of your comfort zone?
When you live on the edge, you get to test your limits. If you’ve never done this before, more often than not, the results will frustrate you. Running out of customers or projects might reveal how reliant you were on your 9-5 job. You might be tempted to turn back to the comfort of a bi-weekly paycheck. Better yet, find a way to reach the net income that will afford you the lifestyle you want.
Do you have a market?
If you answer friends and family, that’s not counted. Take the time to research your target customers. You can start with segmentation by demographic (age, gender, occupation, education, etc.), geographic (city, state, region, country), or psychographic (social status, behavior, opinions, etc.). But it does not end there. Understand your subgroups further using a nifty technique called lead scoring. In basic terms, iContact defines lead scoring as “an objective system for ranking leads to determine which ones are ready to convert immediately, which ones need further nurturing, and which ones are highly unlikely to buy.” Lastly, gather insights face-to-face and in real time. It pays to know what people are thinking.
Looking for teammates?
Perhaps you want to call them partners, fellow visionaries, or co-founders. Regardless of the term, they have to believe in whatever you are starting. Find like-minded individuals, but do not be too focused on similarities. Instead, observe how each person can contribute to the team and jell with the rest. If you are a creative, you need someone who is good with numbers. You also need a communicator who loves the crowd.
What is your story?
Every business has a story to tell. Yours can start with a curiosity or a frustration or a necessity. Something you’re passionate about does not exist yet, so you build the technology yourself. Many of the startups founded by millennials are the results of finding that intersection between necessity and frustration. There’s no need to outline the story before you build anything. But when you have built something, it is important to have a message to tell. Stories are what will connect you emotionally to consumers.
Can you handle money well?
This section is somewhat related to going out of your comfort zone. Your passion project will require you to make sacrifices especially when there is no sizable return on investment yet in the horizon. It will test your financial limits. It will test your budgeting skills. Even your relationships — with co-founders — will go through some fire. There is no other way out but to learn how to handle money well.
Need a mentor?
Amateur writers learn from veteran writers. New cops get training from experienced cops. The same principle is applied to business. You can sit around and figure things out on your own. Or you can venture out and see how old hands do things. If you come across a business issue for the first time, a mentor or a coach can help you sort it out. You can also tap the collective mind of an advisory board. This should be composed of a team of experts and problem solvers backed by years and years of real-world experience.
As Lismore International Jim McClung puts it, “An advisory board brings a multi-faceted perspective to organizational issues that is informed by events, trends, and best practices outside of an organization’s four walls.” He adds: “This “outside-in” approach is by definition impossible to achieve from inside an organization.”
Care to share?
Have you heard of the phrase “caring is sharing”? Say, you are passionate about photography or programming, advertising your work won’t mean people will immediately like it and line up to buy it. Just think about how many photographers or programmers are also offering their services online. In most cases, ads alone won’t cut it. You will need to create relevant, informative, and shareable content to engage your target market.
SEO expert Neil Patel says developing an online course is one effective tactic to acquire leads quickly. Sometimes, especially when you are just building your brand, sign-ups to such content are free. But guess what? You can profit from it, too! You just have to think beyond selling a product or service and start monetizing your knowledge and skills.
Do I need a platform?
Mainly, platforms are websites that offer a host of tools and services to get you started in the business. For example, ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce attract solopreneurs for their price range, functionality, and ease of use. Nowadays, there are also platforms like Kajabi that make it easy for digital entrepreneurs to turn their knowledge and content into products they can sell. Make sure you choose one that matches your needs. If you think you fall under the ecommerce category, check out this infographic courtesy of Lodlois as it provides you with a comparison of 5 popular ecommerce platforms.
When will you begin?
Today, not tomorrow. If you fear that you will fail, chances are your fear will come true. So let fear empower you instead. Of course, this piece of advice is not referring to jumping onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon blindly. It recognizes that you have this nagging desire inside you to satisfy. And you will never be able to deny it until you try.