“You don’t tell the market what you are selling, the market tells you what it will buy” –
I talk to a lot of people about starting businesses and a lot of them still think that a comprehensive business plan that takes months to develop is a key component to starting a business. It turns out that is simply not the case.
While it is useful to understand that your market is big enough, to estimate costs, decide what the market needs, come up with initial messaging and all the usual things, if you see competitors in the market you can just see what they are doing and use that as your starting point. It is much better to just go into the market with a minimum viable product and see what the market is willing to buy as opposed to sitting by yourself crafting a master plan. Get out and start testing your sales ability and your sales messages.
The easiest way to start a professional services business is to start out as an independent contractor yourself. You will still have to search for a job using your own credentials, but when you decide to take the job, make the contract as a company not as an individual. Create business cards with the name of the company and a basic website using one of the many free website creation tools.
Once you are on site and working for the client (not your employer) you will be able to scope the situation out. Focus on doing a great job and keep an eye out for when your client needs additional people. In the mean time start looking for potential people to hire. The best people will be people that you have worked with in the past that you are 100% confident are solid.
When you speak with them, let them know what you are trying to accomplish, be up front about how they will get paid and key agreements around non-competes and intellectual property. Definitely bring them on as a contractor.
As much as you can avoid the temptation to take your first employee on as a partner. Someday it might be worth add partners to your growing business, but most likely, while they might be a great worker, they won’t necessarily be a great partner.
A time will come when your client needs additional resources. If you have done the ground work of making sure you have someone available, you can fill their need immediately and voila you have doubled the size of your business.
There is much more to it than this, but this is the foundation. In future articles I will go into the various areas such as legal entities, non competes, one page business plans, marketing, pricing etc.