I don’t remember the last time I opened a news app or a business article and not read about a company raising 3 million or maybe more, in a Series A round, from an investor Mr. “some bank or a financial name.”
It gets daunting to keep questioning yourself “How am I ever going to raise money?”, or “When do I ever start a business?” or “I don’t have time, maybe later someday.”
Let me say this now with experience and 1000+ hours’ worth of research and studying other businesses, that you do NOT need all those above things.
I’ve started 2 businesses which gets a consistent stream of secondary income.
I’ll show you just the 3 things you need to start a profitable business (right from working on your laptop.)
Essential Thing #1: An Idea
All businesses start with ideas. Bestselling author James Altucher says “Ideas are the new currency of life.” Now, you can’t expect an idea to magically fall down from the sky or wait for that “perfect” idea. There’s not.
Instead, we need a process or ways to come up with business ideas. I recently wrote a piece for Entrepreneur India where I showed a simple technique you can use to come up with 10 different ideas in under 15 minutes.
Some will be good, some will be bad too. But once you know the process, you can come up with hundreds of ideas in minutes.
Few ideas that have been proven to be successful businesses:
- Programming in Java/HTML or any other language
- Gaining muscles and getting in good shape
- Learning digital marketing, social media, SEO, writing, etc.
- Event management
- Taking better photos and becoming a photographer
- And many more
In fact, I’ve a ready-to-use list of 40+ successful business ideas for you below this post to start with.
Essential Thing #2: Validation
According to Forbes, 90% of startup businesses fail and the #1 reason for it is NO market need. In other words, the market doesn’t need your product or service.
So, no matter how much you love your idea, one thing you need to do for sure is to VALIDATE your idea before you spend all your time, money and resources behind it.
The last thing you want is spending 6-9 months, only to realize nobody will ever pay. Validation is simply a measure to tell yourself — “There is a problem for this idea. I have a solution to it, AND people are willing to pay for it”
Validation Case Study:
When I created my first product, I reached out to 20-25 people in my target market (industrial engineers.) Next thing, I simply asked them open-ended questions like:
- “What is the specific problem you face around X?”
- “Why is it difficult?”
- “Have you tried to solve it before?”
The point when doing validation is to –
- Get creative by asking your market what are their specific pain points
- Not investing yourself into your idea yet before validating it with the market
Only when I knew for sure there is a need was when I actually started the product development process. Again, remember the 3 steps when validating your idea:
- There is a problem
- I can offer a solution
- People are willing to pay
Essential Thing #3: Get 1-3 Paying Customers
Here’s a brutal truth — The market doesn’t care about your idea, they care about their problems and getting it solved. That’s it.
Sure, your friends like your idea, your mom surely will. But guys, we’re talking about starting a successful business here. And it starts with getting the foundational pieces in place.
At this stage, we want to identify if your market cares enough to pay for it. Meaning, a lot of people will say “Wow, that’s an amazing idea, you should definitely start this”, but when it comes time to pull out their wallet, you’ll hear crickets!
For us to virtually guarantee your idea will succeed, we need some paying transactions — which means people have a burning problem they want to solve, and they trust you enough to pay for it.
I made close to 50K and 26 paying customers on my first launch in the first 6 days itself.
This initial set of customers and revenue showed me there is a demand for the product and that people are willing to pay for it.
Once you have the 3 foundation elements in place — Finding an idea, Validating it, and then Getting 1-3 customers under your belt, now you can scale. Now you can automate. Now you can grow your business. You can do all kinds of experiments.
But, the key I want you to take away here is — not getting overwhelmed with all the hype outside. Rather, taking small systematic steps and focusing just on the key 2-3 activities shown above in the beginning.
If you know someone who might find this useful, share this post with them so they stay focused!
About the Author:
After starting 2 businesses, Zubin Ajmera founded Progress and Win, where he helps working professionals and beginning bloggers start an online business. Grab his free cheatsheet of 40+ successful business ideas. Unlike the same old advice, he focuses extensively on detailed and step by step strategies which gets results.