Gaining enough experience to get started

One of the big questions people ask themselves when the desire to start their own business strikes is how to gain the necessary expertise and skills to be able to hang their shingle and start doing some business.  Pamela Slim, one of my favourite authors and bloggers in this space, has a great post titled "How to get experience and credibility when you are just starting your biz" where she gives a few pointers on not only how to gain that expertise but also how to gain some very necessary credibility.

One of her suggestions to help you gain experience is to volunteer at an organisation that does the kind of work you want to do.  This may pose a challenge if you are still working a regular job until you make the move but if you are creative about it, there are ways to still put in that extra work and gain that valuable experience.  Of course if your trust fund is there to keep you going, it may be time to leave your job and really get stuck into that volunteer work.

When it comes to building your confidence (this will quite possibly be one of your most important achievements), you have a few catalysts to help you build your confidence to the point where you feel more comfortable about stappping out there.  One option is to find youself a mentor who can help you see how much you already know and learn what you don’t yet know.  Other great sources of support include other bloggers who have been where you are (I found other bloggers to be a tremendous help when I was getting ready to jump and really appreciated their efforts to share their experiences) and small business networks where you will encounter other people in the same position as you and those who have taken the step and are at various stages down the road.  One excellent network is Business Warriors.  I have mentioned this network before and highly recommend it.

A very important thing will obviously be taking on new clients and here Pamela has a couple more suggestions.  One suggestion is to define your niche and work hard at that niche.  A niche, as Pamela explains it, "is the specific segment of people that you will target for your marketing efforts" and while it may seem a little counterintuitive, focussing on a niche is often the most effective way to develop an effective business.  Although you may be tempted to cast your net as wide as you can, it can be a little overwhelming trying to market to all those people so try narrow your market down a little.  One of the questions I ask myself when I consider new markets is whether I will enjoy working in those markets and doing work for those clients.  A big motivation for starting my own business was to rediscover my enjoyment of my work and transform my experience of my work into a good one.  There is no point leaving a job which you don’t enjoy only to create a business you don’t enjoy, and have the added stress of making it to the end of the month.

Of course blogging is another great way to get the word out about your products/services and how you do what you do.  I had a client come to me because he has seen how I approach my profession on my blog and wants to work with me because of my philosophy.  I certainly didn’t expect that and then again, your blog will say a lot about you and your work ethic.  It could really pay off.  At the very least, blogging about your business tells people what you do and how you do it.  People like to know that stuff.

Make an effort to look for opportunities to explore your new business.  The more you can learn about it the better.  At the same time don’t fall prey to "analysis paralysis".  At some point you need to just get started and do something.  You will learn so much by actually doing what you have been thinking about.  Along the way you will learn what works and modify what doesn’t and you will discover a lot about yourself in the process.






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