My father is joining the ranks of retirees starting online business ventures and he’s in his 70’s. When you think about it, being a micropreneur is a perfect way to share his many years of business knowledge without having to leave the comfort of his home office – if he so chooses. And it’s a perfect way to create additional revenue to supplement his retirement.
At his age, though he has seen and done a great deal and if you’re in the same boat – it may be hard for you to pin down a particular area on which to focus your new company. I believe it is a waste of time to write out an entire business plan if you’re still not sure about your business concept – instead try what I call the Affinity Marketing Proof of Concept Phase.
This Phase occurs before you write a business plan. You start with an idea and the goal is simply to test your market and prove or disprove and refine your marketing message and concept.
To launch a business you need to determine if you can make any money at it. Otherwise it’s simply a hobby or pastime. If you want to see if your business has merit with a Proof of Concept Phase, you’ll need a:
- Fuzzy idea of what you want to offer (product or service)
- 1 or more Facebook pages
- Twitter account
- Custom Logo files which can be used on all the social media platforms
- Identity – enough about your concept to fill out the basic information on Facebook and Twitter
- Placeholder URL is optional – but I like to have it just in case the idea takes hold. If you don’t end up using this particular URL – you can redirect it to the site you develop later or resell it.
You then simply set up your accounts and begin talking about your concept about 2 – 3 times per week and do a bit of announcing and cross posting on all your social media platforms. Watch to see the audience that shows up to hear what you have to say. Tweak your content every once in a while to see what people respond to. (Hint: People hate the oversell, so make the Identity all about them – NOT YOU)
At first things will likely be slow to take off – with Facebook, there is a tipping point at around 200 people or so. If your idea resonates, this is when the page “Likes” will take on a life of their own – even if you’re not posting new content very often. At this point, you’re simply collecting names and analyzing the common threads amongst who shows up.
I recommend spending a bit more time on Facebook than on Twitter because Facebook “Likes” have more long-term value. Just follow these ideas for engaging your audience and if you find your page taking off – and reaching in the 3, 4 or (*gasp*) 5 digit Number of “Likes” – begin working on your business plan and main site. You may just have something there worth pursuing.
Keep in mind, you can launch multiple Proof of Concept Facebook pages to test your market, but the key is to listen to what people begin to talk about around your particular concept and to capture the characteristics about your perfect customer. Not everyone who presses “Like” will be a perfect customer to you.
This is one of the fastest ways to:
- determine if you have a market at all
- mine that market for their needs; and then
- fulfill the needs of that market.
Technology and the ease of social media make the Proof of Concept Phase one of the fastest ways to the money, and one of the smartest ways to find the details you need when you write out your full blown business, sales, PR and marketing plan.
At the end of the Proof of Concept Phase you’ll know what the market pain points are, what skills you need to have (or hire) to help your target market and the price they’d be willing to pay. And depending on your skill set, YOU can do all of this with less than $100.
One of our most recent projects reminded me about the never-ending layers of bureaucracy and the slug-like speed at which things are sometimes accomplished (if that truly ever happens) in large corporations. This sort of thing can be somewhat frustrating for a virtual company proponent. Nevertheless, it has inspired me to keep a running list in my mind (and now here) on the slow & stodgy traits of the big boys vs. those of the small and nimble. Which list describes your business?
Does your business have these Slow & Stodgy Traits?
- Unnecessary people, doing unnecessary tasks, collecting unnecessary paychecks
- Very little ability to innovate because of past decisions and investments in software technology that limit growth potential
- Old, outdated processes created for reasons no one can now recall
- Invested in equipment that now sits in a storage room instead of selling it to create a profit
- Never questions the status quo or comparing your company to the best in class
- Employs those who prefer to impress the boss instead of doing what’s right
- Discounts the inherent wealth of knowledge buried within the company
- Builds silos, management layers and territories who operate independent of the larger organization and cannot share resources easily or effectively
Or are you one of the Small & Nimble who:
- Have the ability to turn on a dime – creating quick, workable solutions which solve client’s challenges
- Opt for the best in class which is not always the most expensive option
- Decide at the outset to build a company which will remain virtual and profitable
- Allow for smart and calculated growth
- Automate 90% of what they do
- Limit the number of full-time employees – as they consider this model to be outdated
- Are never afraid to toss out something that’s not working
- Constantly ask whether they can do better and improve the process and returns
- Run a company with a skeleton crew
- Plan, automate, improve, repeat.
Growth and profitability does not always mean that a company becomes weighted down and ineffective. Start now to build your company so that it stays lean and smart.
Species Identification: “paycheckus collectorus” – These human-esque creatures are drawn to behemoth companies and government environments. Their habitat includes nesting in cube/office territories where they often remain until death or retirement. Is quite fond of the stability of the parasitic arrangement. Known to hibernate for long periods throughout the day. Prefers artificial lighting to natural sunlight. Highly susceptible to brain mush diseases – the result of which includes the inability to question the status quo.
(photo credit: guardian.co.uk)
I talk a lot about owning your own business around here. Primarily because I adore all things about business, and also because it’s one way for people to do what they love and make a great living. But I’m not fond of just any old type of business model – I love our new Online Micropreneurial Business Model, which is based on the years of experience and research I’ve done while working in and around some of the best virtual companies. And boy do I have some stories to tell…
From product selection to daily schedules, I’ve seen it all. These companies often fly under the radar and they don’t make Money or Inc. magazines. They are ordinarily run by anywhere between 1 to 7 people, and provide product or services to a niche market. These companies are all virtual. They hardly ever touch products, they take out advertising with precision, sometimes their websites aren’t even very elaborate – but they provide details that speak to a particular market and they make it easy for people to pay them. Plus they all make at least 7 figures per year. What’s not to like about that?
Our Online Micropreneurial Business Model helps new micropreneurs grow small and nimble niche companies – based on something they have a passion for. But I think the key to being a successful micropreneur is in the setup of the virtual business.You can’t just throw it online, post a few blogs and product links and hope for the best. So here is a quick preview of my list of the top 6 things that are absolutely essential for upcoming micropreneurs to include in their virtual business planning and setup:
- Process Automation for 90% of your Sales, Marketing & Advertising
- Beneficial Information Products
- Niche Market Expertise and a Unique Voice
- Multiple Payment Portals
- Attractive, Trust-Building Branding
- Residual, Passive, Active and Leveraged Income Streams
Without any one of these six areas in place, you’re probably working too hard to make a living doing what you love.
I’m reminded today about what it takes to create your own empire, where your income is not dependent on market changes or pay days and can be centered around what you love to do. My brother Dale has been an entrepreneur since leaving Morehouse in the 80’s. During a conversation years ago, when I casually asked when his next payday was, he uttered three words that have remained with me to this day… “Everyday is Payday“.
Mind you, at that time I lived for my Friday direct deposit, so his words were hugely inspiring – opening up many new possibilities for me. I mean, why shouldn’t your income be ongoing? This might still be a novel idea for some of us – as it was for me. I’m guessing that niche marketers, entre or micropreneurs won’t be surprised by this at all unless your income is centered around one sales type. But I had been brainwashed into a 9-5 mentality – where my life plan was largely dictated by my JOB. As I navigated the ranks of corporate America over the years, I came to realize that I needed a new way of making income – one that would sustain my lifestyle and allow me to retire comfortably (which for me means working on the beach doing something I love).
I embarked on my Everyday is Payday Project, the project elements included:
- Highly active cash flow (high sales, low returns)
- Multiple niche markets within areas you are passionate about
- Automated online electronic delivery and offline service delivery components
- Knowledge based product & service revenue streams
- Company infrastructure can be duplicated easily
- Provides work/life balance and the ability to work anywhere in the world
- Something under my control – the more I put in, the more I receive
During the development of this empire-building plan, I explored many MLM programs – those selling technology, products, etc. I loved the energy and the positive messaging about achievement that often go hand-in-hand with these programs. But I realized that whether it’s a mind-numbing 9-5 or high-energy affinity/network marketing company you are still creating wealth for the top tier of the organization. And most importantly, you also end up promoting products and services you don’t really care much about. For me this is not a winning combination.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu
I saw a video this morning that made me reflect on something I have been hearing more and more lately. I hear it in my networking meetings, online, amongst friends and I debate it at home. The idea is that you don’t need a job. You need income yes – but not a job. A job is too limiting for your passions, goals and ideas. Here are the stats taken directly from the video:
- 87% of you don’t like their job
- 50% of you do not feel satisfied in what they’re doing
- 25% have a job that is their #1 source of stress in their lives
- 41% of you are living from paycheck to paycheck
- 70% of you aren’t motivated by what you do on your job
- 50% are underpaid
- 67% are in the wrong field
- 72% are in an environment where you are being undermined
Makes you think doesn’t it? And if you have a job, I know these things are familiar to you. They were to me too at one time or another.
I always used to feel like I was spending so much time away from home/family – creating wealth for just a few people at the top of the organization. I realized my job at that time was far too limiting for the things I really wanted to accomplish. So, eventually I stepped away from that path. I no longer have a job that dictates when I take vacations, how much my next raise is or when I can retire. I spend my time working on things I am truly passionate about and I help people reach the point where they can do exactly the same. Just knowing that you are free to spend your time “selfishly” thinking and creating the work and income that brings you this much joy is quite possibly The. Greatest. Thing. Ever.
Follow your bliss…