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How This Whole Thing Started (7 tips)

Updated on July 2, 2016

Why do things happen serendipitously?

Last year, my partner decided to leave her job. It wasn't just any job - it was a director's position for one of San Diego's largest non-profit organizations. Walking away was one of her toughest decisions, but she knew that she needed a change. She left without knowing what to do next, which takes courage.

On the way home from her last day at work, my partner was in a 3-car accident that totaled her car and sent her to the hospital. There, her body scan showed that she would need major surgery for an unrelated condition. For the next six months, disability payments kept her afloat financially, and she took that time and space to start a business.

Granted, not everybody will feel like starting a business when they are taking pain meds and recovering from surgery, but Monica likes to stay busy. She also wanted to find alternative therapies so she could adios all those heavy-duty drugs. What she found was amazing: the earth is equipped to heal our pain. Monica learned about the healing properties of herbs and started her own experimentations. She named her first concoction Moki Magic, an arnica-based salve with several other herbs and oils to create a topical pain reliever. The wonderful thing about the arnica plant is that it contains helenalin, an anti-inflammatory agent. Monica started using it on her neck to help with whiplash and arthritis pain, and then she started to give it to her family and friends. Now she has a loyal following.

What a Business Requires

Steps and Ingredients to Greatness

Monica has continued ever since to research and develop new products, ranging from salves for bug bites and rashes to meditation oils. But the product line is just one part of a business. So what does it take?

1. You need a little investment money

Monica cashed out her retirement and used a couple thousand to buy supplies and herbs. A few thousand dollars is on the cheap side, but it's a good place to start if you don't have a lot of capital in the beginning because you are taking a risk. Starting small is more prudent, many times.

2. Understand that most businesses will take time.

It might take 6 months to get a product line going, attend events, network, and get an online presence if you are lucky. Sometimes getting a good flow of business takes up to a year or more.

3. Prioritize and Get Your Vision

If you know what you are aiming for, you already have the most important piece of the puzzle (given a decent product or service). Some people don't know if they want to be fully self-employed or if they want to keep their business as a side interest or weekend hobby. That is a very important decision you have to make. Energy follows focus, and wherever you invest your focus, results will follow. If you want your business to solely support you, it is going to take more than a few hours out of the week. This is where having a full time job and trying to start a business is difficult. If you can sustain yourself with a part time or drama-free job in the meantime, you have an advantage. Doing well in a new venture is uncommon if your focus is split and you are indecisive about what you want.

4. Develop a great product or service

Don't scrimp on research, materials, or effort. If you have a quality product and can get a good market, word will spread. Don't be afraid to keep learning about your craft and challenge yourself to grow in your field. As an independently-contracted teacher, I have to keep learning and working on my skills so that I stay marketable and so I am not confined to a limited methodology. Make sure that what you are selling is worth paying for. Ethics in a nutshell.

5. Know your price points

Every service and product has a good price range, depending on the audience you are marketing for. If you have a product or service that is more costly, you need to research similar products in the social stratus you are hoping to reach. If your target audience is more middle class, you have to adjust. Do more research and know your competition. Don't undersell yourself - money is just an affirmative energy. If you believe your service or product is worth the money, then that confidence is conveyed.

6. Network and do the foot work

My teaching business has grown largely through word of mouth, but I have to be reliable. That means showing up consistently and punctually, being professional, responding to emails, advertising, communicating with parents, and making sure I am paid for my time. A business might take a while to get rolling, but the consistency and effort you put in will not go to waste in the long run. For Monica, footwork means calling and walking into shops, talking with vendors, creating connections, and attending craft fairs or other events.

7. Abandon self-pity and discouragement

Self-employment is not for the weak. You have to take care of a lot of details that w-2 workers don't worry about. In my opinion, you get so much more in return. I have freedom in my schedule, I find meaning in what I do, and I make good money. Monica finds purpose in being able to give people a means of pain relief and healing that is natural and wholesome. Whatever you are doing, look at it as a gift to the world. Challenge all the self-pitying, discouraging thoughts that will run through your mind. Fear can either keep you from succeeding or it can drive you on. If you ever feel stuck and think there is nothing else you can do, you are probably wrong. Be open to finding new ways to promote and improve.

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