I’ve had this dream in my heart to be in business for myself for quite some time. For a very short period of time I was in business for myself. I had a Tax ID and everything. I did market research for a fitness product called a kettle bell. This wasn’t just any kettle bell, though. It was adjustable. At the time, there was nothing else like it being sold on Amazon. So, what does any halfway decent entrepreneur do in this situation? Validate the idea. I threw up a simple landing page, put out some Facebook ads to drive traffic to the landing page and started collecting emails. My target audience was 18-25 year olds that liked CrossFit on their profiles. I had about one million potential customers. At $150 per unit, there was potentially a profitable business at hand. After a week, my idea was validated. I purchased 50 of these things, got them through customs, onto freight trucks, and into a fulfillment center ready to ship out to customers. Through some tough lessons learned, margin per unit turned out to be about $20. This isn’t terrible if you’re able to sell dozens each month, but I just didn’t have the cash flow in order to do that. I sold all 50 that I’d ordered and watched the other larger companies in the mix lower their prices to compete and push the smaller companies (mine) out of business.
I have no regrets about this whole experience, but here’s the most valuable lesson I learned during the whole process: everyone is already in business for themselves. There are only two major categories that are sold: products or services. If you’re like me, you are a software developer and you “sell” a mix of both. Software products are sold to clients (internal and external), and services are sold in terms of ongoing maintenance and support of those products. As an individual in the business world, whether as a full-time employee, contractor, or consultant, you sell your own individual expertise and abilities to employers or clients every day. The trick is to constantly look at your job this way and as Shawn Blanc says, “show up every day”. Earn the trust and confidence of your audience whether that be your product owner, manager, or teammates. Conduct yourself on a day to day basis as if you were an individual business owner earning his salary. If you want to own your business, it starts with the mindset at your current job. When the time comes along to strike out on your own with your own business, all of these soft skills will be invaluable.