I have been working on a couple of start-ups (muses) of late.
If you are a business guru then this post may sound like layman language for everything you already know. After reading a certain blog post recently on lifestyle design I was moved to write something in reply. The blog was titled “Why lifestyle design will make you miserable.” The author aptly chose that title in complete blindness to his own career choice. Being a business coach himself it appeared like he was talking down on the new wave of people leaving their jobs and starting coaching careers to show other people how they can do the same – A bit pretentious if you asked me.
The long and short of his perspective was that it’s a bad move to design your lifestyle towards something you desire to gain but don’t have the desire to sweat your hands over. The idea was that it is not possible to start a business that you will not toil and involve yourself in full time. For example if you can’t get your hand dirty in the farm mud then you should stay away from the fantasy of living in a farm. I don’t on the other hand agree with this.
People are generally still reluctant to embrace the idea of muses. Muses are essentially businesses which are modeled to earn you a certain amount of income which will fund your dreams. If for instance you want to travel 3 times each year to different parts of the world with a total budget of 6000 dollars then you need to simply figure out how to make 500 (6000/12) dollars a month. If you are to start a full time business then you should expect 500 dollars a month from it. If you are looking to land 10 reliable clients each month then each client will probably need to buy a 50 dollar product from you each month. That’s when you start working out how your marketing strategy will land you at least 10 guys a month and your dream is born.
Outsourcing and automation
The problem comes when a mentality of do it yourself operations is taken up. You probably need to sit and think over what bits are harder to accomplish and which ones are in your range of expertise. What you can’t do is what you shelve of to a few employees or contractors. This way you don’t have to involve yourself in the business all day long. Many people fail to see the immense ease that automation and outsourcing provides for muses. In fact, automation and outsourcing are the backbone of muses. Without them, the feasibility of any such business fizzles out with the complexity of both performing and managing your business. And in essence every business organization understands this. The difference is that other businesses incorporate hiring and technology into their company policy and culture. With such a model everything get a bit more complex and eventually a lot less objective. You don’t need your marketer to dress in a suit or uniform in order for them to go about their work. You just need results.
All that a muse needs is a master plan. If your mind is objective enough to sieve through unnecessary BS and gimmicks and cut down to the bare minimum of what needs to get down then it shouldn’t be hard at all to run it in your pajamas.
Let’s take for instance a publishing firm. If you have a printing firm with a good deal for you, good writers and good marketing agents then you will probably be ready to roll in no time. Of course no business gets anywhere without capital. And with the risk that is usually involved it is easy to see why most people would not be amused by the idea of a muse. The truth however is that anyone with enough confidence in his ability to make sound decisions with any set of constraints will have minimal reason to worry about losing money. It’s almost like playing poker with people who don’t know the rules whearas you know techniques that could earn you millions.
If you are still afraid of losing money, there is something in the start-up community called the art of bootstrapping. Start small get big. In truth, no business newbie is ever ready to start big especially in a muse that you have never successfully attempted before. You know you want to be big but that calls for very huge funding and massive expertise. Can you handle a million dollars well enough to produce two million in one quarter? Do you have that skill set? Organic growth creates the best funding system on the planet. Profit grows to realize itself and it all becomes a cycle of self sustaining business expansion. With organic growth you become a force that is indomitable. You know what it means to sell one pair of shoes in one month, a hundred in a day and eventually and entire chain of shoe stores to an investor in one night. You need to take small steady leaps with muses.
In business you need people. When you hear about networking the idea that comes to mind is constantly chatting with people about how they can help your business. And mostly with people you don’t know. If you are like me and are afraid of meeting too many new people all at once then you can see how this bit gets a little tougher than the rest. It always seems like you are bugging them when you come out asking for help. On the contrary, it need not be so. The best way to network is to find a way to meet other people’s needs and at the same time find out how they can help you out – a little info here and there, a little hook up with some useful people. It’s simply a value exchange process.
As you go about everyday musing you will come across unforeseen problems. But how do you solve a problem that everyone has encountered and cowered away from? Simple, you innovate. Solutions are simply an idea away and if you exercise your creative nerve consistently you will become a business guru in no time. Innovation is avoiding the well worn solutions that tend not to work in several occasions and embracing new techniques that you are confident in trying. It is innovation that spearheads most companies above their competition. If Apple got stuck at making macs alone then we may never have had the opportunity to enjoy the iPod. In fact I was quite fine with my IBM PC before the iPod came out so to me Apple was a very irrelevant resident in the silicon valley. You need to innovate to meet demand more than anything else.