As I travel deeper and deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole of franchising, and help other people meet their dreams of business ownership, I find myself reminiscing on the excitement of starting a business from scratch. This past month (specifically, May 12 – May 16) was National Small Business Week, a time for entrepreneurs and small business owners to be recognized for continuing to help strengthen our country. No doubt, like me, almost any small business owner you meet knows firsthand how scary and exciting this experience can be.
I always knew I wanted to be my own boss. The trouble was — I didn’t know how to get started. Many of us that started from scratch didn’t know what we were doing for the first few weeks, months, years even. Many of us had no clue that this was what we wanted to do with our lives until we jumped in and well, actually did it.
While sitting around a campfire during a study abroad semester in Australia, a friend of mine was telling us a story about how he made $100 hauling an old refrigerator away for a neighbor. This story struck a cord with me and peaked my interest, but did I think that it would lead to a career that I would be doing for the rest of my life? Not really.
When I returned back to the states, I needed to make extra cash and I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend’s story. I remember thinking this would be a great way to earn some extra money. I used my mom’s SUV and offered part-time junk removal services for friends and neighbors. I spent every free minute distributing fliers by hand to mailboxes, doorways, busy intersections, anywhere I could! Was it good money? Certainly. Did I enjoy it? Heck yes!
Once I developed the system, I was able to really combine my new business with my passion for the environment and helping others. I discovered that I could make money and still give back to the community by donating the items we removed to the less fortunate. I started creating something special by turning my job into my career, mixing my passions and churning them into something great.
When Junkluggers began franchising, it enabled me to share my enthusiasm and opportunity with other like-minded entrepreneurs who also wanted to create and grow.
Starting from scratch is terrifying.
But is it worth it?
Here are 5 Things You Can Do If You’re Considering Starting A Business From Scratch:
- Find Your Passion, Not Your Hobby: Too often people mistake their hobbies for what they are truly passionate about. Not all of us will be famous musicians or athletes. You might not make it playing guitar or shooting hoops, but if you care about the industry that much you might just find your space within it. You will be much more driven to succeed if you follow your heart and can get behind your business with everything you’ve got.
- Research: Do as much research as you can. Then, do more. You can never be over-informed on what is going on in your industry.
- Listen: Feedback you get early on from customers and onlookers can be some of the most valuable data you can collect. People will tell you that “you’re crazy.” Maybe you are! But taking what they say and turning it into a positive outcome, or finding a solution to their questions can help you identify holes in your plan.
- Maximize Your Resources: Whether it’s capital that you need to purchase goods or space in your office or location, keeping a tight handle on your resources is key. Plan what you need, then develop a strategy to help you see success.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes: When starting from scratch, you are bound to make mistakes. Tons of mistakes. But a mistake is only bad if you can’t learn from it. Put a Band-Aid over ever cut and scrape and keep on pushing towards your goal.
Now it’s your turn. Are you thinking about starting a new business from scratch? What are your hesitations? Concerns? Let me know in the comments below!
Josh Cohen is the CEO and founder of The Junkluggers, an eco-friendly junk removal company based in NYC.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, its management, or its other members.
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