The 6 points to starting a meaningful, sustainable and successful business (full time or side hustle)

In an ideal world, everything you do would bring joy into your life and joy into the world in general.  Well the real world is not necessarily the ideal one, but it can be if you work to create it.  I've written before about why I think everyone should have a side hustle (even if you already own your own, main business), now I'm going to go over the basics of setting up a successful business, whether for a full-time income or as a side hustle.

Let's be clear about this, you can set up a successful business even in a recession and even in a niche and/or geographical area where there are a lot of similar businesses.  In fact, I'd argue that having your own business, at least as a side hustle, is even more important in a recession, because that's exactly the time when unscrupulous employers are most likely to try to take advantage of a difficult job market.  So, without further ado, here are the 6 points you need to know to start a successful business, whether you want to make it your main income or keep it as a side hustle.

All businesses need to be sustainable in terms of time as well as in terms of money

You've probably read the statistics about the number of new businesses that fail in short order.  I suspect that the single biggest reason why businesses fail is because people leap into their new business model enthusiastically and assume that if they work every waking hour of every day, then after 6 months they'll have a fully-fledged business.  Sometimes this works for them, I'd suspect most of the time it doesn't.  Being your own boss is hard work and it can involve long hours, but there needs to be a balance.  If your business is to succeed over the long term, then you need to be able to make a viable income from a reasonable number of hours of work.  This is the single, biggest reason I recommend starting any new business as a side hustle and then transitioning into making it a full-time income (if you decide that's what you want).  It allows you to feel your way through the realities of pricing your goods and/or services so you earn a decent rate for your time.

All businesses need to be legally viable

This may sound like stating the blindingly obvious but it's extraordinary how many small/micro businesses seem to overlook this point.  First of all, you need to make sure you register for tax and if you're operating internationally (or even outside your own state in some countries) then you need to check how that impacts your tax status.  For example in the EU, if you sell digital products the sales tax applied is the tax in the purchaser's country rather than the vendor's which means that if you sell digital downloads on your own website, you need to know the sales tax in each an every member country.  Your alternatives are basically to sell through Amazon (who take care of that for you) or to sell you digital products in physical form e.g. to put them on a CD.  Similarly craft sellers and/or sellers of food items need to check the laws around their business area.  If you're taking payment by a non-cash means (e.g. Visa cards) then you need to check the scheme rules too.

All businesses need to add value

I would suspect that the second biggest mistake that people make when starting a businesses is to think that they should be competing on price.  Actually, that is the absolutely worst way to differentiate yourself because all you do is set yourself on a "race to the bottom" with other people who make the same mistake.  What consumers want is value, which is ultimately the relationship between the price and the benefit.  Only if they perceive two items (or services) as being identical in every other way will price become a major decision factor.  For the record, obviously consumers have to be able to afford an item or service in the first place and as the price of an item or service goes up, the potential buyer pool gets smaller and you will need to factor this reality into your business plan, but the fact still remains that consumers of all levels of income are driven far more by value than they are by headline price.

All businesses need a brand

In the post I linked earlier, I spoke about the importance of branding and in my opinion it's impossible to overstate the importance of having an identifiable brand with positive associations.  As I explained in my previous post, you can build a brand without monetising it so you have it ready if you do decide you want to turn it into a business.

All businesses need a customer base

Your brand is about recognition, when (if) you are ready to turn that recognition into an income then you need to build a customer base.  Fortunately the work you do to build your brand will probably also go a long way to helping you build that customer base.  Both aspects of developing a business as about engaging with people and developing good relationships with them.  Your brand is what builds trust (and in some situations authority), your customer base is a group of people who will buy for you due to a combination of your brand and the fact that you can deliver products and/or services which meet their needs and/or wants.

All businesses need effective processes

Processes are what keep a business running smoothly and customers happy.  As your business develops and even after it's reached maturity, it's important to look and see what can be done to ensure that it runs it smoothly as it possibly can to make your life as easy as possible and your customers as happy as they can be.

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