I currently work for someone else, but that doesn’t mean you have to. I love my day job, but there are too many people out there who don’t. This post is for them. For those of you who hate 40 hours of the week but are too afraid to try something new, here are 7 tips that should kick you in the ass:
James Altucher is one of my favorite bloggers. He is a cross between a schizophrenic and a zen master, which makes for some entertaining reading. In one of his posts, James describes his habit of making lists – a practice I fully ascribe to. He claims that making lists and sub-lists and sub-sub-lists is a good way to get closer to acting on an idea. I can attest that this works, as making lists has helped me start many projects.
Right now in Evernote I have 17 Idea Lists with about 30 more sublists – that’s 100s of ideas stored. These range from books ideas to web app ideas to blog ideas for Tech.li. I won’t accomplish everything on those lists, but the point is that I’m stretching my mind as I create them. And with each sublist I create, an idea is getting clearer in my mind, which brings me closer to tackling it.
2) Rip Apart New Products
One of the great things about writing for Tech.li is that I am forced to dive deep into products in order to write posts like this. When you compare two products, you have to decide what is important about each of them, and which features really matter in the product’s domain. Deciding what’s important is a huge challenge for most people, which leaves them fiddling with the CSS on their website instead of making sales calls or writing that next great post.
3) Think about What Sucks
Just sitting here, I can think of 5 things that suck – finding an apartment, going to the dry cleaners, buying lightbulbs, flu season and figuring out what to eat for lunch. Some of these may not work as startup ideas, but now that I’ve got you writing lists, you can write down these 5 things that suck and then continue to write more. In business, all you need is one good idea, so write down 100 things that suck and see if any of them could actually make a good business.
4) Find 1 client
As many will attest, getting started is always the hardest part. In the case of starting your side gig, finding that first client is the most difficult. Ramit Sethi tells you to find 3 clients, but I am suggesting to just get one. Claw your way to one client and you will have the experience and social proof you need to get the next two clients. And then the next five. And then you can quit your day job.
5) Go to an Entrepreneurship Meet Up
I get fired up talking to entrepreneurs – their enthusiasm is probably the greatest high I get. If you are on the fence about starting a new project or venture, go to a startup meetup and listen to the stories people tell about starting their own companies. All of them have had ups and downs, but you can tell by the their faces that it is the ride of their lives.
6) Prototype your Idea
A lot of the things I list here are about getting started. The fear of starting still grips me for a moment before I start writing a blog post, but I’ve trained myself to dive right in and get a first draft done as quickly as possible. This fear is why you should prototype your next idea right now using one of these tools.
Take the next hour and mock up what you want to make. Don’t sit here and click through 10 more websites.
7) Ask people what they would pay for. Make it.
This is another James Altucher gem – I told you I love this guy. When he was starting a company, he just went to people and asked what they would pay for. Then he went home and made it.
Who knew that you could just ASK people what they would pay for, even before building something. This person you ask could be a friend who owns a business or a random consumer. Just find out what they would buy and then make it. It doesn’t matter if it sucks, it doesn’t matter if they end up saying no – the point is you’ve gotten into the habit of making something people would buy. Stick with that habit.
All of these are tips I’ve picked up over the years in order to be more proactive. I don’t always follow them, but when I do, magic starts to happen. You should see for yourself.