During the last few weeks I’ve indicated some of the benefits & pitfalls of going solo. I’ve also detailed the key differences between self-employment and running your own business. You have also seen a variety of ways to do both.
This week I want to give you the benefit of my experience working in a number of businesses. If freedom is your goal, be aware that not all businesses will give you that. Some businesses can be very tying or demanding.
First of all, what are you going to sell. There are three types of product:
products you sell once, in other words every sale is to a new customer.
Products with repeat sales, customers keep coming back for more.
Products that are part of a family or range, you can keep on selling new products to existing customers.
The second is preferable to the first, but the third is the easiest, once you have a satisfied customer, they automatically keep buying. The first is the hardest as you are having to constantly find new customers and persuade them to buy.
Services likewise fall into 3 different categories just as the products above. However, services also have a different set of categories in addition to the above.
Services you provide personally.
Services provided by employees or subcontractors.
Services that can be delivered automatically.
The above can also be applied to products but in a slightly different way.
You can produce the products yourself.
You can employ other people to make them.
Or you can buy them in for resale.
As you can see, there are a large variety of options here, as well as permutations of two or more of the above.
Producing products or services yourself is very tying. Most people who take this route do not achieve the kind of freedom they seek.
Employing other people can also be very tying, they have to be supervised and managed and someone has to bring in the sales to keep them all busy. There is also a lot of bureaucracy and cost involved in employing staff. This is especially so in UK and Europe, though not quite so bad in USA.
Without going into too much further detail on all these different options, let me give you a few pointers to what I think are the ideal “freedom” businesses.
The ideal product should not need your personal input to produce it on a continuous basis. You may have to create the idea at first, but if you become a production line, you cannot be free.
The perfect product should be deliverable to the customer on “autopilot”, in other words you should not have to concern yourself about delivery.
Similarly, orders should be processed via a simple procedure that carries on automatically once you have set it up.
Payment should ideally be made directly into your bank account, processing cash and cheques is very time consuming.
The perfect product should require very little customer service and the little that is needed should be able to be carried out remotely, e.g by email, telephone etc.
The perfect business should be “portable”, in other words you should be able to run it from anywhere.
Your ideal business should require very little personal input from you other than setting it up in the first place, over- seeing the operation and devising and implementing new ideas for marketing the product.
In a perfect world, your business should not require employees, by which I mean staff directly employed by you. You will need the input of other people, but they should be suppliers, agents, affiliates etc. You may also need professional advisors for the tricky legal & financial stuff or to help with developing the business.
Both Mail Order and Internet businesses can be set up to meet these requirements. This is why I highlighted them in an earlier article!
Next time I shall talk about the basic needs of any business and what separates the successes from the failures.
Until then, have a great week!