How many people have thought, could I start my own business? How many others have questioned if they really started their own business, could they actually keep it going and make a success of it? I don’t know, but I suspect more and more people today ask these questions of themselves, compared to maybe fifty years ago. Today, we are surrounded by stories of successful business people, and even business-oriented TV shows like Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice, and it seems business is, dare I say it, almost cool in some quarters, or has at least become popular mainstream entertainment.
However, we know that many won’t do their own thing. They won’t have the opportunity. Or they will dismiss it as some sort of unrealistic, impossible dream. But how hard can it be to start a business?
There are always business books offering advice, but these are often written by well-known entrepreneurs, or they are about much larger ventures. What I wanted to produce was something that was accessible for all. Something that would be of interest to the average person, at a level of business activity that would be more than achievable. That’s why my book This Should Help: 50 Learnings from Running a Micro-business is just that. It’s written for anyone who asks those questions I posed earlier, and is perhaps wondering just where to begin.
We live in an age where we can work from home, we can work flexibly, we can juggle multiple roles and interests, we can have portfolio careers. And we can also create micro-businesses. If only we knew where to start. There are plenty of musings on the internet by so-called experts but was there a single, simple resource that consolidated all these things?
I’ve written This Should Help as a book to be read, and also to be done. It can be read passively, but the idea is to actually do the book, that is, to take action based on it. For that reason, each of the chapters, or more accurately, forty-nine of the fifty, set out a short to-do list of things to think about, or to actually do, having read that chapter. Each chapter covers one of the 50 learnings, and each was built around a single word. I wanted each to be based on my experiences, observations, and learnings from all my time in business, using a single theme. I do believe that many people learn best from their own experience, but why not help them short-cut that process, by sharing some of my own learnings.
So, in the first section or pillar which is ‘preparation’ I cover six topics including Naming, Structure, Ideation, and Purpose. This is to help in the earliest steps of anyone’s new micro-business.
The second pillar ‘start-up’, explores six more topics, including chapters on Insight, Branding, Planning, and Clients. This is to help people going through the launch stage and earliest days of their venture.
The third pillar ‘sales and marketing’ looks at fourteen learnings including things like Websites, Communication, Networking and Referrals, along with (of course) chapters specifically on selling and marketing.
Pillar four then looks at the ‘operational’ side of things and includes learnings around Time, Motivation, and Productivity, as well as chapters on Collaboration, Pivoting, and even one on Exercise.
The last pillar, contains my ‘final thoughts’, and the topics here are as varied as Success, Failure, Freedom, and Mindset plus my views on Change, and Legacy.
Are there only 50 learnings? I doubt it. There are clearly many more, perhaps hundreds, but in a book like this, I had to be practical. I didn’t start with a target number in mind, I merely started jotting down words. Some of those original words survived subsequent culls, others were re-named as something slightly different, but once I got going it was clear my original list of twenty of so chapter ideas was not going to be enough. So, the list grew steadily until it reached fifty.
This Should Help is not guaranteed to provide answers to every question or problem people might face in their own micro-business, but it is intended to offer some sort of guidance, based on real experiences.
I’m not expecting people to agree with all the learnings, and some may reach different conclusions. However, the important thing is the process of thinking about these topics and in that I do hope that the book did actually help.