Updated: May 20
Starting Business - Am I Really Doing This?
You feel restless. You pace around thinking about it. You listen to podcasts on the subject. You know it’s going to haunt you if you don’t try.
Starting a business - it’s kind of a thing now. Like wide-leg trousers, the notion is everywhere. Whatever the American dream used to be, the dream’s shifted to starting business from home.
But is this the right path for you? Because I can tell you, it’s not for everyone.
The path usually begins with dissatisfaction - dissatisfaction with work. Maybe it’s the environment that triggers it, maybe it’s the work itself. But nine times out of ten, it boils down to two things -
You want more money. You want more freedom.
Which are actually good reasons to start.
But if the two biggies, Money and Time, started this entrepreneurial itch, then I think we should consider the cost of scratching it. Because you’re going to be spending a bit of both before you recoup them.
So for god’s sake, don’t run out and buy some random pretzel franchise. Let’s be clear and careful about your precious resources.
Besides…I think I have an idea for you.
Before you consider anything - I want to make a case for starting a service-based business.
The Case for Starting a Service-Based Business
The good news - there’s a real solution to your itch to start a business. It’s called “the service-based business.”
What’s a service-based business?
Well, if you ask Google, you’re going to get back a pretty wide list of results - everything from law firms to construction clean-up.
But when I talk service-based, I mean businesses that are thin, nimble, with a low bar to entry. Businesses that center around fixing people’s unsolved problems - in their lives, their businesses, their homes.
Whether you organize their closets, teach them how to budget, or introduce them to gluten-free cooking - starting business around a service means you trade expertise, time, focus, and guidance for a really good income.
Some service-based businesses are:
Coaching - This can be Business, Health, Life, so many kinds of coaching
Online Business Manager
Home Decorating Services
New Mother/Infant Home Care
So basically, any business where you don’t ship, manufacture, make food, or need a storefront. They can start small, uncomplicated, streamlined.
Look, I don’t mean to make this sound too easy. Starting a service-based business is a commitment.
What I’m saying is the distance between today and the day you can start is smaller than you might think possible with a service-based business.
So, let’s take a minute to talk about the pros and cons of making it happen.
Starting Business with the Pros
SO before we face the potential downside of your service business, I want to point to some of the great big plusses that make me such a fan.
And I’m going to start with the biggest.
Low Cost/Low Risk
Of all the Pros that come with starting your own service-based business, this has got to be the biggest. Cost. This is where service-based businesses blow almost any other considerations away.
Most service-based businesses have a comparatively teeny-tiny upfront cost. And low cost means low risk.
Now I’m not saying it’s free. There are websites, classes, certifications, and getting your own coaches and consultants to teach you how to strategize, price, grow, and all that.
But the cost is going to be an easier hurdle than with any other kind of business.
There’s no rent to pay on a storefront. There are fewer unforeseen costs. No employees to start. The outlay is much more of a concrete budget than a seemingly bottomless pit.
Starting a business centered around a service also means you don’t have to be standing behind a counter during traditional business hours. This means you can hold onto that annoying day job and its paycheck while you get your new business onto solid ground.
Your service-based business is kind of your baby - in that it’s created out of your spiritual DNA.
It collects all the values that you believe in and integrates them into a business identity. The result can be something really meaningful. It can even give your business an air of vocation to it.
You can also build something that matches your ideal needs. Like your desire to have weekends with your kids or travel while you work. It can be a gig for mornings or late at night.
Your service-based business can be molded out of your priorities - both in terms of moral values and ideal lifestyle.
Winner Takes All
When starting business in the service industry, you’re usually a one-person organization. At least for a while.
Not only does that simplify your bookkeeping and taxes, it means there are no shareholders, partners, or directors to pay out to or to answer to.
When the business brings in cash, it all goes into your business or your pocket, toward your dreams and goals. This buck really does stop with you.
Okay Yes, There’s a Downside
Now we come to it. The dreaded CONS.
Starting a business at home has some very real pitfalls. We need to bite down on them before we make any decisions.
To be clear, a lot of these problems are self-inflicted - but they’re common and unconscious.
So even if you think these will never apply to you, you should get to know them. So when they do come - sorry they will - you can recognize them, face them, and wriggle free fast.
I probably need to do a whole blog on this.
When you don’t punch in and out, or turn off the lights at an office and bid your colleagues “see you tomorrow”...the lines between work and private life get kind of blurry. Often they just disappear.
Starting business means there’s always one more thing to do, like….always.
It’s so easy to lose track of yourself. You can feel like you have to take every call and answer every email NOW.
If you decide to start a service-based business, you’ll need to set up rules and boundaries. Keep your private time sacred and your mental health intact.
Maintaining Two Jobs
While starting your service-based business might be low cost - you still have to eat, pay rent, and get the dog her heartworm pills. Life isn’t free, and profits don’t roll in at the drop of the hat. It takes a lot of work.
As I said, the advantage of starting business with a service is that you can do it in your spare time, around your 9 to 5.
This can be tricky though. It’s a lot of plates spinning at once.
And the magic moment - just before you transition into going full-time with your business? It’s often a bit of a poop-storm of work.
Building the business until you just can’t hold onto the old job anymore, letting that first job go - it’s an act of faith. And that can be scary financially.
Yes, there’s a thrill and a big payoff too. Cling to that when the time comes to cut that cord.
This is a weird and sneaky one.
Most people start business with a distant goal. But the longer you work at it, it’s hard not to take it personally. In fact, when your product is basically YOU, it’s super tricky not to see yourself and your business as one and the same thing.
This can lead to losing perspective, bad choices, and escalation of commitment to things you shouldn’t do.
Worst of all, when you encounter setbacks and failures - which you absolutely will - you may be tempted to translate that into “I’m a failure.”
Be careful of this.
I know you think this won’t happen to you, but…it will.
When you start to think about the ups and downs of your business as a report card on you as a whole human, remember to turn outside your hamster wheel - exercise, meditate, play, most of all connect with others.
Do whatever you can to remember you’re much more than your business.
Lining Up the Ducks
Look this is a sketch. I mean this is a blog after all. I can only go so deep here. There’s way more to starting business than I can say in 1500 words.
But here’s my point…just start. Start something, anything. If it’s not right, you’ll be closer to learning what is right.
People wait forever, for all their ducks to be in a row. They wait for some external sign to know “NOW is the right time.”
Stop lining up your ducks. Stop asking the same question over and over.
Just don’t bet the whole house. Start a service-based, low-risk business. Get good advice and be willing to learn.
And then…just start.
Worried about taking the next step? Don’t fret. I got you covered in Brave Biz Lab, free coaching with a new theme each month.