I consulted with a client who had a large number of business ideas, but did not have the equipment or skills to properly present them to potential backers.
The client being discussed will remain anonymous, but his experiences are not unusual among disadvantaged populations. His circumstances were briefly that he is in his late 20s, has a disability income, shares a living space and spends much of his free time in the public library where he is an avid reader. He started, but did not complete, being certified as a fitness trainer, and is now overweight without the slim, fit image of your typical fitness expert on TV.
Somehow he has largely by-passed the digital world and is presently stuck in an antilog universe. He would like to own a sophisticated smart phone capable of manipulating digital images that he perceives would be useful in advertising his products and services, but operates the public computers at the library only infrequently and hesitantly.
I found his business ideas to be reasonable, to fill an unmet need in the community, possible to upscale on a local and national basis, but except for a sketch and name of a possible website, completely unrealized. His approach thus far had been to solicit money to finance his project, and he had secured a $10,000 loan, but had not managed to obtain other backers. He had contacted an angel investor and sent in a proposal, but he felt that he never got past the gatekeeper. He came to me discouraged and disappointed. He had not given up, but was uncertain as to which way to go. One of the possibilities that he mentioned was writing a book, but he thought that would be four years away.
I gave him two types of recommendations. The first was two truisms that I developed in my book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business in Midlife.”
- Creative ideas without realization have little value in the marketplace.
- Communication in print, visual and auditory media is vital for a business’ success.
This is accurate, if blunt, advice to give to a creative person who has already tried his best available approaches and failed. To make such statements and say nothing else would be to invite depression, reinforce a negative self-image and prevent him from progressing on his own. The fact that he came to me in the first place indicates that he is still seeking to improve his odds towards owning a successful business. What I am obligated to do is to tell him some positive things that he can do to improve his presentations to the point that serious backers would consider them.
His action plan: Part I. Skill Enhancement.
- The client has some catching up to do to become conversant and be able to use computers, smart phones and other equipment to allow him to communicate easily on the web and develop a following. Computer literacy programs are available at local libraries. The Salvation Army thrift stores will sometimes receive workable computers with word processing programs already on them that people have replaced in their home or work environments. Or he may have a relative or friend with an older computer that they will give him. These are typically stripped of personal files, but the operating files and sometimes antivirus programs are still operational. Such units are available at far less costs than if purchased new. Obviously, a computer literate friend or salesperson at the store needs to guide him in the selection of a good instrument. Once he has his own laptop he can began to express his creative concepts on paper, outline them, approach organizations like Kickstarter and Go Fund Me for participation, advertise his services and otherwise communicate his message to the world. An additional possible problem for the client is to find a place where he can safely store his computer. Libraries may also sometimes have lockers to enable their clients to store items overnight.
- It is necessary for any modern business to be able to produce visual files to represent their products or services. The least expensive access to a workable video and image producing system is the present generation of video cameras by Sony, Cannon and others. Desirable features in such a camera are does it have a rechargeable battery and charger with it? Does it have a USB port that is compatible with your computer? Does it have a zoom lens capability? Does it also have the provision to take still, as well as moving pictures? Almost all current cameras will have these capabilities. Make sure that your camera and video equipment are of the same generation. Another accessory that is needed along with the camera is a tripod to enable stable images to be recorded.
- Do whatever is necessary to complete certifications in the field/s represented by the new business – particularly, if this is some sort of therapy.
His Action Plan: Part 2. Demonstration of Concept.
- If offering a service, as the client proposed for one of his business ideas, he need to be able to show that he has successfully applied it in real-world situations. I suggested that he work as a volunteer and become friends with others with similar interests. This can result in picking up paying clients, having experiences that can be document and perhaps even developing novel techniques and practices that can set the client apart from his competition.
- For new products, get them designed and a prototyped along with a copyrighted name and trademark. He might also begin the patent application process. If the concept is to bundle already existing products, assemble the items that are to be offered for a reasonable “show and tell” in person or on video. If this is a new, unpatented product, keep this video private and only have it seen by those that have been approached.
- A million books are published each year and my client mentioned writing one. Start now and modify it as new material becomes available. The only thing that is absolutely sure about book writing is that books that are never started will never be finished.
- If he is interested in aspects of becoming a personal therapist or trainer it would be helpful if he were in better shape himself. Getting himself into condition could, in-fact, help him sell his own programs.
Once these steps have been taken the client will be in a much better position to present his business concepts to potential investors or clients and might well try a Kickstarter or Go Fund Me campaign to judge the potential value of this venture. A successful Kickstarter program will considerably enhance the new business’ prospect of attracting independent investors.
Much more information is available on business topics in my most recent book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In this book I advocate starting a series of businesses throughout one’s life to raise immediate cash as needed and plan for medium and long-term goals. The ideal result will be to help you discover your business of passion that will carry you through the remainder of your working life. Create Your Own Job Security is available from Amazon.com in either softcover or an e-book, from other on-line book retailers and from your local bookstore or ordered using the PayPal button below. I also offer individual or on-site consultations which may be arranged using the contact form below.
Create Your Own Job Security
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