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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The art of a micro-business (your way to prosperity)

To dispel any preconceived notions, a micro-business is a legitimate business.  As stated in The $100 Startup (a great book I suggest everyone read), “Instead of hiring employees, you begin a project by yourself, based on your specific personal combination of passion and skill.”  A micro-business allows you to follow your passion to success.  By building a business focused on your skills, your passions, and your values, you can create your own niche in business by providing a valued service or product to consumers for purchase.  
Wait!  What’s wrong with traditional work?
  • It’s easy to get fired.  This is 100 percent of your income.  Thus, putting you and your family in a very uncomfortable predicament.  
  • It’s boring.  Many jobs today are based on their business needs and not your needs, passions, or goals.  A majority of supervisors and managers do not know their associates on an individual basis.  They could not tell you your undergraduate major, if you have a master’s degree, the name of your child, or if you are even married.  Meanwhile, typical office jobs only allow you to communicate through customer service interaction, nothing creative.  By not doing work you enjoy doing, you are simply wasting time.
  • The hours are too long.  It does not take 40-hours per week to do a majority of tasks.  Over the past six months, I have encountered at least four jobs that wanted me to work at least 55 hours per week.  Excuse me Jesus Christ, but hell no.  Long hours leads to a boring, predictable, mundane life.  We want fun, flexibility, family time, quality time with the significant other, time to go to the movies, time to exercise, time to relax, time to shop, time to pray, and more.  We need time to live not time to work.
Leonard, so why do micro-businesses rock?
Well basically you can do the following:  You can...
  • Set your own hours.
  • Earn profits versus wages.  In researching for the $100 Start Up, Chris Guillebeau identified thousands of micro-business owners who earned at least $50,000 in net income (not rich by any means but a decent living with freedom, flexibility, and meaningfulness).  
  • Avoid office politics.
  • Enjoy personal and financial freedom.
  • Use your skills, interests, and passions to earn a living.  You write your own job description and match it to your authentic self in generating an income.
  • Can generate multiple streams of income thanks to the flexibility that owning a micro-business offers.  
  • Spend next to nothing to start a micro-business, from the price of a service or product and a website (just bought a domain from Yahoo with website forwarding to Google’s Blogger for $9.95).  Via Google Checkout or PayPal, you can get paid immediately without any merchant account start-up costs.  According to Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership podcast, 64 percent of businesses started last year were created with only $5,000 or less.  
  • Buy your own insurance and save $.  Now-a-days, it is cheaper to buy your own insurance rather than watching large sums of capital magically disappear from your paycheck.  
Okay, I’m convinced Leonard, so how do I start this thing?

Design your micro-business based on skills you want to continue doing (work you love) and what other people (consumers) are interested in.  This is where passion meets usefulness.
  1. Closely examine your skill set.  What transferrable skills from your past would you enjoy doing now within your own micro-business?  For example, I am a former teacher.  In teaching special education, I developed the following skills:  event planning, team collaboration, presentation development, crowd control, public speaking, critical thinking, training, problem solving, and more.  Those skills cross over to the business world nicely as many consultants and manager are responsible for speaking, motivating, giving detailed presentations, and solving business development conflicts.
  2. Passion and skill + usefulness = success  (this formula is credited to Chris Guillebeau)
  3. What is your product or service that you will sell?  Brainstorm different products or services that add value to people’s lives that match your passion and skills.  Are people willing to pay for it?  Find an inexpensive way to test people’s interest (IE. Ask 100 people you know, ask Facebook or Twitter friends, create a survey, etc.).  How will you get paid?  This is the easy part, use Google Checkout (soon to be Google Wallet).  
  4. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?  What can you do within your micro-business at least 10% better than the other guy (your competitor)?  What value can you give to customers?  How can you make their lives better?  How can you increase interest and buzz around your product or service?  
  5. After deciding what you will sell, set up a website or blog.  I recommend one that is easy to navigate unless you are skilled in html design.  I am not skilled in HTML so I use Google’s Blogger (free) and I use Weebly (inexpensive) for my online writing service.  
  6. Develop your offer to customers.  Focus on the benefits that your product or service gives your customer.  For example, my online writing service’s benefits are less stress, high quality writing, documented research, etc.  People are willing to pay me to research, proofread, and write to reduce their own stress (important benefit) and to have more time to pursue other things.  
  7. Announce your micro-business to the world through word-of-mouth, family, friends, acquaintances, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, and more.  
  8. Most importantly, learn from the previous steps as you create and operate your micro-business.  Remember, failure + business awareness + calculated adjustments = future success

Remember, failure is inevitable.  If you fail in your first business venture like I did, take some time to step away and examine what went wrong from a macro-perspective.  Examine how you would do things differently next time.  Make sure you are incorporating your values, passions, beliefs, and skills into your business.  Remember, this is your business.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  You are the boss.  You have no one to answer to with the exception of maybe the IRS.  But, you can get help with that task.  Focus on adding value to people’s lives.  If you add value to people’s lives like Starbucks, Apple, Mercedes Benz, etc., people will be willing to pay top dollar to buy your product or experience your service.  

I know you like receiving top-notch, high-quality written information that helps you follow your passion, explore business opportunities, and soul-search.  That is what I am here for.  Reach out to me @Blackscholaronl or  I accept all questions about finding work you love, following your passion, and reaching holistic success.  You are welcome.  #KobeSystem #Followingmypassion

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