How to Start a Business in a Week
Two-thirds (66%) of people say they want to start a business and work for themselves.
Yet less than 5% actually get their business up and running. That makes me sad.
Business ownership has been the best choice I ever made. My business has provided me with money, autonomy and a continual education. Sure, it's hard work to get started, but the benefits are absolutely worth it.
I want you to feel the same exhilaration that comes from owning a profitable small business.
In this post, I'll show you how to start your own business in one week. Seven days from now, you'll be able to offer a product or service for money, accept payment from customers, and keep track of your new income.
Owning a Business vs Owning a Job
Before we get into the steps to start a business in a week, let's clear something up.
Owning a business is different than owning a job. Although most entrepreneurs start out doing everything, you need to begin with the end in mind (thanks Stephen Covey).
My friend once told me that a business is a profitable, sustainable venture that can run without you.
A business is a profitable, sustainable venture that can run without you. 💰✅😀
With that definition in mind, your business idea should:
- Be time independent (i.e. not hourly work)
- Have the ability to scale (to $10,000+ per month?)
- Be accessible on the internet (via search or to deliver your product/service)
- Able to be outsourced (at least in large part)
- Be automation friendly (software, email, systems and processes)
- Have control over products/services to be offered (no MLM/network marketing)
- Have recurring revenue (optional, but awesome)
That should narrow down the possible businesses you consider.
No Uber/Lyft driving (hourly)
No selling trinkets at trade shows (no scale, unless also online)
No one-to-one service delivery (not scalable, hourly?)
No multi-level marketing (no control of product, plus MLM's are super scammy)
No door-to-door selling or manual labor (no automation)
So what types of business should you consider?
Three of my favorites are:
- Online education
- Membership websites
- Affiliate sales
I won't get into details on these in this post, but if you have questions about these just leave it in the comments below. I'll answer if I can or point you in the right direction.
How to Start a Business in a Week:
A Step by Step Guide
I'm going to give you 7 things you should do in the next week to get going quickly. I'm also going to share 4 mistakes you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT DO when you're getting started.
Please, please, please do not delay getting your new business up and running because of these distractions!
Okay, here we go.
Step 1: Open a separate bank account
I assume you want to have income from your business? Good.
Open a separate bank account to put that income. This should not be a business account. Just open another checking account in your name at your current bank. Hopefully with no fees or minimums.
Use your monthly statements as your initial (very simple) accounting system. You'll see how money comes in and moves out.
Business bank accounts are a total scam. Many charge crazy monthly fees or have ridiculous minimums to maintain. When you get to a certain stage, you can open a free business account, but not now.
You need to have a separate account for this money, though. DO NOT mingle it with your personal money. Just don't.
Step 2: Set up a PayPal business account
This will let you accept payments easily.
PayPal is a trusted and secure way to get paid. Customers can use their credit card or just PayPal you the money. You can even setup up recurring payments if needed.
PayPal will also give you a BUY NOW button to put on your website. Customers can enter their payment information and you don't have to deal with it.
If you want to receive a check for payments, that's fine to start out. Just know at some point you need to go online and automated.
Step 3: Register your "home base" online
See if yourfullname.com or yournickname.com is available as a domain. Try variations until you find something simple and clearly connected to you.
Don't waste time trying for cool business names. You also don't want to box yourself in with an ultra-specific name, like "wesellbeaniebabies.com".
For example, I own TommySikes.com. I don't use it as a separate site, but I own the website name.
Yourfullname.com will work for now, plus you'll be happy to secure it instead of that other person with the same name.
Step 4: Develop your Offer That Converts (OTC)
You need an offer that people read or hear and say "Huh. That sounds good. Tell me more!"
This is what James Schramko calls your Offer That Converts. Without this nothing else matters. Once you have an offer that converts consistently, your business will be successful.
It may take time to work out your OTC. Think of it as a research project that you keep improving and testing over time. You can have variations of your OTC to fit the audience or product/service you're focusing on.
A good format for your OTC is:
"Get [result/outcome customer gets] so [major transformation or change in status customer desires] without [common roadblock or pain point that stops them]."
A real world example: "Get passive monthly income so you control your time and financial future without wasting money on an MBA or working 80 hours a week".
You can use this in your marketing copy and when you're talking to new people.
Step 5: Research and learn from your competitors
If you can't find anyone doing the thing you want to do, that's not good.
You want the product/service you're offering to:
- Solve a real problem that people want a solution to, and
- Be something customers are already spending money to fix
Do a Google search for your product/service. If you get no results, that means that the problem you're trying to solve is not important enough. Try to find a bigger problem.
If you do get results, check your competitors websites for research.
Look for things like:
- What verbiage do they use to describe the problem?
- Do they offer multiple services or products?
- How do they price their offer?
- Are they speaking to a specific sub-group or niche of people?
All of this information will help you tweak your offer based on good research, not guesswork.
Step 6: Create a one-page website
Making a website for your new business is easy.
Use WordPress to make a simple one-page website. It should have your Offer That Converts, a little about you, social proof or endorsements (if you have them) and your BUY NOW button.
There are a ton of tutorials for setting up a new WordPress website.
If you're already familiar with WordPress, I highly recommend Thrive Themes for their WordPresss templates and tutorials.
If you don't ask people for money and see what happens, you will never build a real business. Always focus on the problems and desires of the customer, and how your offer helps them. Do this on your website too.
Make your website be your salesperson who works 24/7. It should be 5% about you and 95% about your customer and their problem/desire.
Step 7: Find networking events on Meetup.com and test your Offer That Converts
You have your bank account. You have your BUY NOW button. You have your one-page website.
Now it's time to try out your offer on real people and see how they react. Maybe practice a couple of versions to test.
The best way to do this is using Meetup.com. You can find a ton of local in-person events. Go to one and when someone introduces themself and asks "What do you do?", give them your offer.
See how they react. What questions do they ask? Do they understand exactly what you're offering?
Listen to the way other people market themselves. Does their offer convert you?
Four Huge Mistakes to Avoid When Getting Started
Now that you have a short, simple list of things to get done in the first week, let me share X things you must avoid to start off strong.
There are others (I'm sure), but these are some that I see frequently.
You've been warned.
Mistake 1: Trying to figure out the right business type
I have good news for you.
You already have a business. It's you. It's called being a sole-proprietor and there is no setup or cost involved.
Using your own Social Security number, you're already able to work for yourself. There's no need to do anything else when getting started.
LLC, S-Corp, Partnership, PLLC. Forget about all that. It's a waste of time and money until you reach your money milestone. That's when you present your Offer That Converts and someone says "Yes!" and pays you money.
Only after you have proven to yourself that your business solves a big enough problem that people have (repeatedly) given you money should you consider another business type.
Mistake 2: Getting business cards
Like figuring out your business type, getting business cards printed is a complete waste of time and money. And please, please, please do not print your own business cards on your home printer!
You're better to go without cards to start. And all printed marketing materials.
There will (maybe) be a time for that. But not now. And possibly never.
So what if someone asks for your business card at a networking event?
Tell them you can email them your contact info. Ask for their email address. They may give you their card. Or just pull out your phone and add a new contact and have them type in their email.
Then when you get home, send them a quick thank you email with your info. Easy peasy.
Mistake 3: Renting or leasing office space
Do not, under any circumstances, sign a rent or lease agreement when you first start your business.
Why would you agree to a long-term financial commitment when you haven't proven your idea?
Let you website be your virtual office. If people want more info, they can email you. If someone wants to meet in person, do it at a local coffee shop. Or reserve a private room at your local library. Usually that's free.
I also would not have customers come to your house. There are lots of third party options. Or just keep it all virtual and online.
Mistake 4: That other excuse you're telling yourself right now
I get it. This can be scary.
I was terrified when I started out on my own.
But it was also super exciting. All the opportunity. New things to learn and put into action. Meeting so many amazing people. Helping another person to improve their life.
What's better than that?
Now It's Your Turn
I hope you're excited. I'm excited for you.
Now you need to get into action mode. Everything in this checklist can easily be done in 7 days. You can start your own business in a week.
It works like a flywheel. It may be hard to get it moving, but once you do, the momentum will carry you along.
Two quick questions for you:
- What business idea are you going to start with?
- Was anything in this post confusing or needs more explaining?
Leave me your answers in the comments below.