It has been four days now since I started on this journey, there have been disbelievers near and far, but also an overwhelming amount of support. In these few short days I’ve taken some important steps towards my goal, and I’ll do my best to outline them here for you to follow.
The first step was to build a following, within my own social sphere and without, such that I could not simply abandon the project. If I did now, many people would be disappointed – and worse, the naysayers would have been right all along. This is something that I cannot allow to happen, no matter what.
My next step was to consider my target. Even though I didn’t know what the business would end up being, I did know that it had to have a large group of customers with similar needs. After some deliberation I was considering real estate agents, local business owners, and suburban homeowners. I eliminated suburban homeowners for the audiences benefit, since some of you may not live in neighborhoods that are safe to go door to door. I eliminated real estate agents based on my assumption that they probably get a lot more spam than regular businesses – which might make it harder to get their attention. For those following, real estate agents wouldn’t be a bad choice – just know that making friends and spreading through word of mouth is extremely powerful for that path.
Once the vague target market had been decided on, I moved into lead generating with a goal of 100 businesses. First I considered businesses that I frequent, as they would probably be pretty comfortable talking to me. Next I tried browsing the Omaha chamber of commerce website for leads, but it was a little too clunky to use for this purpose. My most potent source of leads was actually google maps with incredibly vague searches. Through several hours of panning through the map with search terms like “Omaha services” and “Cafe Omaha”, as well as some suggested by my fiance, I had arrived at 100 businesses on my list.
The next day, I had a meetup with another local entrepreneur. We met at a coffee shop downtown, and all did not go as planned. As soon as I arrived downtown, I began to feel sick. Upon arriving at the coffee shop, It was confirmed. Throughout the interview, he gave me some advice:
- Don’t bother with craigslist ads, those aren’t the people you want to talk to.
- Revise your script to be much shorter, don’t waste even a second of their time.
- Contact the local colleges and chamber, they might be able to help
Upon arriving home, I was pretty much useless the rest of the day. I tried to find contact information for some of the businesses I had listed, but it was a futile effort and I found that 5 hours had passed without anything of significance getting done. Lesson learned: Don’t get sick, and when you are sick just focus on getting better. Fortunately I recovered in a short period of time.
I didn’t completely trust google to give me accurate contact info, as it has given me bogus phone numbers in the past – and it definitely won’t tell me if the business prefers emails or has a contact form. So, for about 12 hours, I scoured the web for each of these companies websites. When I found one, I tried to get an email or contact form location as well as the phone number. Some of these websites didn’t have businesses anymore, some of these businesses were actually franchises with their headquarters in a different state, some of these businesses didn’t have websites, some of their websites were awful or impossible to read, one made me throw up a little.
Now, with the list slimmed down to 92 businesses and contact information gathered for all of them, I come to the main focus of this article – Sorry if it got a little long. Where I am right now is where many people stop. They plan and plan, they gather contacts, they talk to their friends about it, but when it comes down to it they just don’t follow through. Maybe they think their plan needs work, or that it won’t work, that the market won’t support it, I’ve been there before. This is the precipice of failure, this is where you fall into failure or learn to fly.
Once you start establishing relationships with others, as a business, you are a business. It doesn’t happen when you file LLC paperwork, or build a website, or follow the blog post you found titled “7 steps to starting your business!”. It’s all about the relationships you form with others. And, because of this, many of you have a distinct advantage over me. It’ll be easier for those of you following along than it is for me. Why?
Because dialing phone numbers makes me sick. I get anxiety attacks every time. Sometimes I throw up, drop the phone, or stare at it paralyzed with fear. And it makes no sense at all, not even to me. Sharing this little tidbit about myself isn’t particularly easy, but it’s important – because now you know that even if you have something like this too, you can still do this. I’ll be starting with businesses that listed emails, contact forms, and social media as their preferred form of contact – but eventually I’ll have to move on to someone who only listed a phone number. So, stay tuned and thanks for reading!