Dylan Cornelius Management, LLC

How to Start a Business: The 4-Step Guide

We all want more income, right? One of the best ways to do this is to start a business.

How to start a business: Paving a path to success.

As multinationals and giant companies keep growing, being an employee is becoming increasingly challenging as employers have more leverage.

Frankly, for the past 50+ years, we’ve been born into and raised in a world that has repeatedly told us the only viable path is to achieve good grades, obtain a degree, and secure a good job.

These good jobs have often turned us into the chattel of large organizations and employers who control us. We are led to believe we don’t have any other options – primarily because we haven’t been trained to see any.

My goal is not to depress you. Instead, I will discuss the reasons that have inspired me to break out of the employee mindset, and how I help you do the same.

Building a genuine business value chain

When starting a business, you’ll often receive well-meaning advice from consultants, attorneys, and accountants. They’ll suggest forming a corporation, buying insurance, protecting yourself, or exploring franchise opportunities.

What these professionals don’t tell you know is that they have personal and business interests in selling you the products or services designed to protect you.

However, if you have some understanding of effective sales and marketing techniques, you’ll notice the fear-driven undertone in their advice.

Insurance companies are among the first to perfect direct, face-to-face sales built on the question, “What happens if you pass away unexpectedly?” So, to protect against this eventuality, they say you need to buy insurance.

I am not criticizing anyone who has managed to inspire someone to protect their family or anyone who made that choice after hearing such a pitch.

Sometimes, humans require a bit of incentive and encouragement to overcome their inherent inertia.

There are plenty of ethical and moral arguments on both sides of the coin. You need to decide: are your purchases responsible and ethical? Are your offers, when you’re selling and marketing, responsible and ethical?

That’s a decision between you, your clients, your audience, and, in the worst-case scenario, the court. The court determines whether someone was defrauded, lied to, or unduly influenced to spend money on unnecessary products. It’s about ascertaining if the products truly add value.

Overall, starting a business requires that you take four steps:

Start a business step 1: Identify a problem to solve

To start a business, the first step is understanding what problem you can solve and how you can help other people overcome it.

If you’re like many consumers born and raised in the Western Hemisphere during, or after, the latter part of the 20th century, you likely grew up in a service economy. This means there’s already an abundance of problem-solving solutions out there.

For example, you can’t just sell aspirin; there are already plenty of solutions out there for headaches. However, we have all experienced unique problems that were specific to us and found ways to solve them.

What you can do is find a way to help other people successfully overcome similar problems the same way you did yours.

Or, maybe you have demonstrated a consistent track record of success in a particular area. This area represents your strength and biggest achievement. It is where your greatest opportunities lie for packaging up a service or a product and meaningfully delivering it to other people.

A critical first step is identifying a short list of the sorts of problems you can help other people solve.

Start a business step 2: Build valuable relationships

Secondly, once you have completed the problem identification process, consider those you can help solve that problem (your prospective clients).

If you’re uncertain, you might want to start with a list. As you work through it, you’ll become more discerning about where the best opportunities lie. You’ll understand where your greatest interest and focus are, and where your relationships are strongest. Doing this will help you get started.

Like most people, there are groups with whom you’d like to associate with and also help. There may also be groups for whom you have less love and affection, and therefore, less of a desire to help.

Frankly, it’s crucial to be selective. So, it’s fine if there are people you don’t know well and have no interest in. I agree: you should carefully choose your relationships, friends, family, and clients.

You have to think about who you want to serve.

When you’re in business and focused on helping other people solve problems, you’re likely to spend a significant amount of time with specific groups of people or certain types of individuals.

Being clear about this enables you to focus on where in the world your love and affection lie, and where they’re directed. Where do you want to serve? Where don’t you?

You can avoid being in a position where you’re spending a lot of time with people you don’t want to be around. This includes the people you’ll be spending time with as your business grows and teams are built.

If you enjoy working with hands-on tasks but find yourself in a predominantly intellectual business with theoretical leanings, you may not love your job. Similarly, if you dislike getting your hands dirty and somehow end up in auto-body detailing or something similar, you should look elsewhere.

Doing What You Love

Again, regardless of having expertise in an area, if you dislike it, it’s improbable you’ll be happy and successful at it for long. There is a truth to the idea that if you do something you love, even if it’s something you wouldn’t generally choose, you’ll never be poor.

You’ll always be successful because if you love doing something, you’re going to do it a lot.

Anyone who does something frequently becomes skilled at it. You will naturally learn to excel at it. Sharing your expertise, and encouraging others to share their passions, creates potential for recognition.

People often share things they love because they are enthusiastic about them.

Having a clear head about what you want to do and who you want to accomplish it with are the first two steps.

You don’t need to spend a dime at this point. You don’t need to call an attorney, accountant, or bookkeeper. You’re already gaining clarity about how you can start a business.

Start a business step 3: Share your passion

The third step is to share your interest in starting a business.

Reach out to the types of individuals you wish to help and share your ideas about how you can solve their problems. Ask for their opinions on whether they indeed perceive these as problems. Then, try to understand how they experience these issues, what kind of solutions they might value, and what they’ve already been doing to solve the problems.

Conduct some market research and start defining the problem as seen by your potential client.

Aim to identify a solution that resonates with your client and one that they are willing to pay for and follow through on. Write down the features and delivery model of this solution.

Think about how it can be produced if it’s a great product!

Generally, we all understand how products can be defined by their features, and how these features are described.

The same can be said for intangible services, which can also be broken down and explained in a similar manner. Doing so allows you to dissect the main issue into its underlying problems, making it easier to identify solutions for smaller, related problems.

As you progress and continue to engage in conversations about your ideas, you’ll start to encounter individuals who are like-minded and interested.

If you have a product or service ready to offer, let them know that you’re looking for opportunities to test it out. Inform them that you have a prototype available if it’s a product.

If it’s a service you’re selling and you’re still deciding on pricing, the outcome may surprise you or perhaps not, depending on your confidence in its viability. At some point, you’ll be sharing your offer and they’ll ask to buy it! Be prepared to sell it to them, then and there.

If you leverage your experience and strategize thoroughly, you could find success.

This leads to making a sale, bringing us to step 4: describing the features of and further clarifying the problem.

Start your business step 4: Clarify the problem

Step four is premised on actively engaging with potential customers until someone makes a purchase.

It can be challenging to give away your product for free, as clients often don’t fully commit to using it. They might leave it unused, or participate in calls without any follow-up action.

The goal is to attract customers with enough interest in solving their problems that they’re willing to pay for your solution.

Once you start receiving payments for your product, you know it’s in demand. This indicates that it can help solve a problem. It also tells you that customers not only value their problem but will commit to investing in the solution.

Having defined your problem, identified your audience, and made your first sale, you will have valuable insights. You should use these insights to improve your product/feature descriptions, and delivery mechanisms. By doing this, you’ll more effectively address the problem or need that led to your first sale.

After your first successful sale, you’ll gain the confidence and experience needed to sell again.

That’s how you start a business.

If you need more help with any of these steps, such as refining your product, reflecting on past problem-solving successes, or building confidence in your abilities, remember that anyone can do these things and then ask for help!

Many successful businesses have been created by individuals with a range of IQs and varied levels of prior knowledge of that level. What mattered most was their ability to solve a problem and share the solution with others, who then became repeat customers.

Success in business is about connecting with people who have problems that need solving, and consistently offering them solutions.

Do you need help? I am here for you

Reach out. Let’s work together to break down your problem into smaller, manageable pieces.

Together, we’ll identify your greatest strengths and build your confidence in your ability to succeed.

We’ll also clarify your purpose. We’ll explore whether this is truly what you want to do, whether you should stay in your current job or pursue a different career, or even start your own business.

These are all solvable problems, and I’m ready to help you navigate them in a Strategy Session.

Click here to schedule a Strategy Session: https://dylancornelius.com/schedule-a-strategy-session

I’m eager to assist and look forward to connecting with you. I hope this information has been valuable to you.

How to start a business

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The Author
Dylan Cornelius
Dylan Cornelius

Hi, I'm Dylan Cornelius.

I help mid-career knowledge workers and entrepreneurs execute their strategic plans using the career acceleration blueprint, even if they don't know where to start, they've never been a manager, and don't have a team. I'm the creator of the Career Acceleration Academy.

I've led small and large collocated and remote teams, delivering more than $40 million in revenues and cost savings. My teams and I have delivered ground-breaking products and services that still power successful businesses today.

I've worked as a recruiter, manager, and team leader in Silicon Valley and around the world. I have more than 30 years of experience in business management and leadership, plus psychology and business degrees from top universities.

I'm glad you're here! Take a look around and let me know what help you need.

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