If you do a Google search for “business ideas” you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and confused by articles offering numerous, random suggestions. And while some of the ideas may be inspiring, they also miss the most obvious – and easiest – way to generate income as an entrepreneur.
Become a professional service provider based on the skills you already have.
Think you can’t do it? Think again. Because if you’ve ever excelled and enjoyed any job-related task, you can sell that service to organizations and individuals.
Following this process helps you avoid many of the risks associated with entrepreneurship. It helps you avoid imposter syndrome by doing something you know you are good at, and since you’ve been paid for them in the past, you know there’s a market for your services.
So stop looking externally for business ideas. Everything you need to start a business is already within you. Here’s a three step process to get you started.
Determine your zone of genius
It’s time to get paid, and the first step is to determine your Zone of Genius, which are the tasks you feel uniquely qualified to perform and enjoy. This term comes from the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and I’ll walk you through the process of discovering yours now.
We’ll start by gaining a basic understanding of the various zones of competence.
Incompetence: You’re not good at these things and don’t want to be
Competence: You can perform these tasks but others can do it just as well
Excellence: You can perform these activities extremely well but it may not be as rewarding as you’d like at times.
Genius: These are the activities you enjoy and want to keep developing. You could talk about them for hours and never get bored. This is the service you’ll offer to clients.
Next, open up this spreadsheet. In Column E jot down all the organizations you’ve worked at. Once you’ve completed that, write down all the major tasks and activities you performed at each organization in Column F. This also includes tools and processes involved with each role, and you can probably lift most of this information from your resume or LinkedIn profile .
Now it’s time to assign all these tasks and activities to various Zones of Competence. You’ll want to be extremely honest with yourself here. In most cases you should have a handful of activities in your Zone of Genius, a few more in your Zone of Excellence, and even more in the remaining zones.
You can see the example from your worksheet below.
Based on the example above, this person could become a consultant who helps organizations plan their Facebook ad campaigns. We’ll go deeper into potential service offerings next.
Related: 5 Steps to Get (Almost) Anyone to Connect With You on LinkedIn
Determine the specific services you’ll sell
Now that you’ve identified the skills you want to monetize, it’s time to create services based on these skills. I created the ACTION business ideation model to help you quickly determine which services you’d like to offer.
These can be scary if we’re talking about your taxes, but they’re extremely beneficial if you provide them as a service to organizations or individuals. Based on your zone of genius, this is the step-by-step approach you’ll use to analyze a company or process. Your main goal here is to identify areas of improvement or opportunity.
Need help creating your audit? Watch this step-by-step video I created.
This involves providing your opinions, analyses, and recommendations to organizations or individuals based on your own expertise. Fortunately, you can use the same process that you already created for your audit.
You’ll help individuals or organizations develop the specific skills needed to perform their job. This is different from consulting, but it’s somewhat related. Maybe during your audit or consulting you discovered they need to start leveraging a new process, but they don’t currently know how to. That’s where you come in to provide training.
This is where you help your clients implement the tools or teams needed to achieve their goals. It could be onboarding a new tool or even selecting the right vendor to partner with.
This is one of my favorite ways to make money. With retainers you continue to provide advice and services based on your area of expertise. But you may not have a specific project you’re working on. You’re just there to answer questions whenever they arise. I strongly recommend offering retainers at the end of any project so you can continue generating revenue from your clients.
By design this is the most flexible part of the model. What ideas can you come up with based on the organization, their goals and creative ways you can help them reach their desired outcome?
I’ll give you an example here. I make educational videos focused on entrepreneurship for one of my business partners. But I recently pitched them on a new opportunity, which is setting up an accountability program for all their program participants. This is aligned with my previous work and their mission so they were receptive to the idea.
So that’s ACTION business ideation model. You can pick one or all of these, but I highly recommend offering audits since it establishes the baseline for all your other service offerings.
Next up, we’ll cover promoting your business.
Realted: How Networking Is Necessary for Effective Entrepreneurship
Ask your network to spread the word about your business
I’ve interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, and 90 percent of their first clients came from their network. So before you start posting on social media begging strangers to work with you, start with the people who already know, like and trust you.
Think of 10-20 people you know who can spread the word about your new business. This includes previous coworkers, friends and relatives. Ideally, these individuals would have access to a relevant network. Meaning they may know people or organizations that could use your services.
Then, you’re going to reach out to them and ask for their help. Here’s a template you start with.
Hope all is well on your end.
Reaching out to let you know that I’ve started a new business and I’m wondering if you could help me spread the word.
In short, I help (target audience), (take this action) so they can (achieve a specific outcome)
Would you happen to know of any individuals or companies that would be interested in this service? If so, I’d appreciate it if you could introduce us or just forward this email.
Thanks for your support!
You can send this message via email or messaging, whichever makes the most sense for you based on your relationship.
Entrepreneurship is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. By following this process you’ll be able to make money, save time and avoid burnout.
If you don’t get leads within the first seven days, I suggest reaching out to more people in your network using the same message. This is most likely how you’ll get your first client, so stick with it.
And I know you’re still going to have some questions.
- How much should I charge?
- How do I get more people asking for my services?
- How do I keep my clients happy?
If you’d like help with that, consider joining my video course, The Solopreneur’s Shortcut. You’ll get answers to all these questions and more through a combination of videos, worksheets and templates.
Either way, I wish you the best of luck!