Some further advice on how to start a business: there is no "one right way". You have to make your own choices. Are there client fields that are likely to give you a better chance for success? Sure. But nothing is guaranteed.
Every business, and I mean every single one, does have a few specific things.
The person asking for advice who prompted this post said they had a budget of $500 for starting their business. Your budget does not matter. Put that money away, use it to pay for living expenses so your business can "stay alive". Don't get distracted by that money.
First you need to choose who you are helping, and what problems you are helping them solve.
No one can pick these for you. There are no magic bullets on how to start a business. If you pick a popular niche, you get a lot of competition. If you pick a niche that not many other people are in, there's probably a reason--like the people in it don't understand why they need marketing help.
How To Start a Business: Picking a Niche
I look for niches with good cash reserves, a quick payment cycle from their customers, a high offer price, and a topic I understand and like. That will make me automatically enthusiastic. It keeps me away from realtors (estate agents), engineering firms and pie sellers and moves me towards trades like electricians and roofers. Can you see why?
Realtors = long payment cycle, they get their money a month from now. Not good. Pie sellers = low offer price, which doesn't support my service cost. Trades = good service price, and they get paid today or close to it.
Now what services can you offer that you're confident in delivering?
A popular agency growth program I represent teaches you how to hire competent subcontractors, so you can find the customers and manage the projects, but these subcontractors actually do the work. And they do it at a lower price than you're charging, if you follow the directions, so you make money.
In the beginning I would not try to offer many services. Do not try to be all things to all people, or take money because it is waved in your direction. Choose one or two things you can get good at.
The Importance of Competencies In How To Start a Business
You need to develop COMPETENCIES in a number of areas to be successful in business. Delivery of services is one of these areas. Others are:
- Lead generation
- Qualification (sorting leads for the good ones)
- Closing (turning some of the qualified leads into buyers)
and as I said above, Fulfillment or delivery of services, so you can give clients what they paid for.
What I said may sound dull but you might be astonished by how few people understand what they're getting into with a business, including an agency business...and how even fewer can explain how they're doing these four things in plain language.
Can you write down in plain language how you are doing each of these four things?
How are you generating leads?
If you can't explain this, I guarantee you do not have a business.
And continue doing this for the other three areas.
Getting Clarity When Starting a Business Is Critical
These are exactly the same things I'd ask you to explain, or or with you to develop, in a paid consultation so you get clarity.
Choose a method, and write it down. Email? LinkedIn messaging? Facebook ads? Phone calls? How are you going about generating leads?
If you can't explain it, you don't know what you're doing or how you're doing it. And if you don't know those things, you sure can't delegate it to someone else.
The agency business is a series of choices. We will work with these people, but not those. We will offer these services, ie. solve these problems, but not others. We will charge prices at this level, thereby solving the problems at this particular magnitude, but not others.
Where I see people struggling with their agency business is in their trouble making these choices. They sit there hoping someone else will give them the "one right way", the magic bullets. No. You have to choose. You must develop those competencies. There aren't many of them, really...less than a half-dozen. And the faster you choose and get to work, the faster you'll develop them.
If you pick a leadgen method, as an example, and after a few weeks determine it isn't working for you, you can erase what you wrote and pick a new approach. If cold email didn't work, you can change it to phone outreach.
How People Lose In Starting a Business
But what I've seen is people giving up on methods without having really tried them. They made four phone calls and say, "Cold calling doesn't work for me". Of course it doesn't! You didn't do it! You didn't develop any competency at it. Or they send 100 emails and give up, saying "Cold emails don't work for me". You can't truthfully say that: you didn't do the work. It takes far more than 100 emails to get anywhere, unless you're lucky.
So understanding the scale of what is required is necessary for success here.
One final thing: I see people get into programs for agency founders and give up. They say they're "overwhelmed" and when I ask them, "Why didn't you talk to a coach?" they tell me: "I didn't know I could do that".
I don't believe you if you say that. You gave up.
And I have to tell you the harsh truth: Giving Up is not the sign of an entrepreneur. If you give up so easily, you're probably not cut out to be a business owner. Sorry if that hurts, but it's the truth. Not everyone should be a business owner.
I have talked to people who didn't do much in a program, but didn't give up and when they spoke to me they decided to keep fighting. That's the sign of a true entrepreneur. Finding things out for themselves. Not taking No for an answer. Not getting "overwhelmed" and saying to themselves, "This is too hard. I'm stopping".
If you will learn, and keep going when the going gets tough, you might be a real business owner.