May 13, 2016

When I started this podcast, I wanted to cover topics that I had lived through in starting my own business. To recap, I started a social media marketing company after I was laid off of my job as a software engineer. I could have started a company doing software for other people but experience told me that you needed to have a niche in order to build a client base. For example, if I had been working and developing human resources software or mortgage processing software, it would have been easier to show a history and track record in those industries. With social media marketing I could use my existing computer skills.

Most everyone agrees that it’s a different world in how businesses market themselves. This week I thought I’d thought I’d step away from my normal interview process and discuss starting your business. I’m not talking about the usual LLC, business cards, website part of starting your own business. I’m talking about wanting to work for yourself but not knowing what type of business to start.

Lots of people have a passion and they turn their passion into a business. But what if you don’t have a passion. How can you work for yourself if you don’t know what you want to do? This is my story. I knew I wanted to work for myself but I was already working my passion – software. But during my career, I was never working for myself doing software. It was always as a worker bee for someone else’s company. I decided to use my existing skillset and enhance it for a new business. Social Sidekick was started as a social media marketing company. I did all of the right things such as networking, participating in events and conferences. My business wasn’t successful in a self-sustaining way. In other words, I was not able to grow my business or replace my regular job income. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Being able to support yourself financially and then move to the next level?

If you’re in the same boat in that you want to work for yourself but don’t know what you want to do, how about starting with a hobby that you have. Here are a few of the things my friends have parlayed into businesses – some of the self-sustaining and some as a side business:

Eric was a master gardener so he started a landscaping business

Merry’s side business grew out of her hobbies of making jewelry, pottery, weaving material that she would then use to make clothing Meg, a friend of mine who’s a registered nurse, loved knitting so years ago she opened a brick and mortar yarn shop. This was before the internet. She had the business for over five years before she decided to close it. About 15 years ago the brother of a former coworker of mine would go to Disneyland and buy all sorts of Disney items and sell them online. He made a lot of money doing that. Jamie has a house cleaning business Paul has a website design company Jodi, who I interviewed, is a graphic artist Renee, who I also interviewed, is an author

Another former coworked of mine got a computer science degree and found out she hated doing software but she loved being a house painter Do you love taking care of cars? How about auto detailing? Do you know the history of your city or town? How about a tour guide business? I’ve been on ghost tours in cities that were really fun. Wedding planner? My friend Nick has a business selling hard to find classic car parts. If you like to cook or bake, you could make cookies, or peanut brittle, or exotic candy and sell them at farmer’s markets. Think long stemmed Developer cookies in a bouquet for special occasions. Are you an artist, personal trainer, or business coach? Drive around your town and look at the various businesses that have brick and mortar locations for ideas.

And if all else fails, you could even become a podcaster.

Not all of us are meant to be millionaires. We don’t all have that one product or service that people can’t live without. Or we don’t have the luck or live in the right place to make those valuable business connections. It takes a lot of hard work once you have the right idea. Many overnight sensations plugged away for years before they ever made it.

And even though you might think you’ve found that great idea or passion for your business, you might change your mind. You might realize that you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, that there’s no market for it where you are or even online. But don’t give up. You’ll hear some of the biggest names in business talk about the eight or nine businesses they tried and failed at before they found the right fit.

So on my journey to and through entrepreneurship, I decided to take another path. I kept my Social Sidekick brand and logo, my LLC, and my business plan. But my business is segueing into podcasting. It won’t be an overnight hit. I still have to pay my mortgage which requires me to keep my regular job – at least for the time being. And that’s ok. Do I wish I could be as successful as a podcaster as john lee dumas, marc maron or any of the others out there? Of course I do. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And by following this folk in the road I decided to go back to school. I don’t mean tradition school such as college. Been there, done that. I mean, learn from other podcasters. Learn from marketers who teach you how to market your business.

So I have a list of things I have to do to grow my podcast business. The first thing is to redesign my website so that I can add content to it such as a blog. My next project is to write a book about the love affair I had with my parents and their own love affair. What, you ask, does that have to do with podcasting? Absolutely nothing. Because there’s no rule that says a podcaster can’t be other things as well. Many are published authors. Some of their topics are related to their business or podcast and some aren’t. I will also be creating a closed facebook group for people interested in podcasting. Yeah I know there are a bunch of those already. What will make mine different? Absolutely nothing. It’s basically to transition from my local podcast meetup group because I have a large amount of members in the group online, with few that attend the meetups and it costs me a lot of money for the group that I’m not longer willing to support financially on my own without reaping a benefit.

I always ask, what’s the opportunity cost? What are you willing to give up to get what you want? I wanted to start a podcaster’s meetup in the Tucson area because there wasn’t one. Mission accomplished. Now it’s time to transition it to facebook. Erin nutting who was on the show a couple of weeks ago did that with her SABRE group. She closed down the meetup group and created a closed facebook group. Did she do that due to cost? I don’t know, I’ll have to ask her the rationale. It could have been to have more participation online.

I want to leave you today with something that my dad always said to me. He said Laurie, you can to whatever you want to, as long as you put your mind to it. So sidekicks, send your dreams and passions out to the universe or just try on various things to see how they fit. Then go start a business. Talk with you next week. I’m not exactly sure where I’m heading, but it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Thanks for listening.

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