Part of being an entrepreneur is helping others to turn their ideas into businesses. As I have started working with more and more people I have decided to start putting some of the conversations on my blog. I’m doing this so other can critique the advice that I give and/or so they can also help the entrepreneurs that are seeking advice.
I’m by no means an expert in the business world. I’ve had my fair share of failures and successes. I hope by lending a helping hand to other I can help them to avoid many of the mistakes that I have already made.
Below is a conversation I had over a two week period with a young man looking to start his first online business? I attempted to get him to focus on what he enjoys doing most. After a few exchanges of basic hobby likes and dislikes we were able to come up with a game plan to help him get started.
Conversations with a Young Entrepreneur Part I
E-Mail 1 (Entrepreneur to Me)
Hey.. Thanks for your feedback. Yeah, I hear forums are hard to get traffic to and takes time. I really would just have too find some backing like you said from a minority business or university. Do you know any other good ideas out there for web business, I really want to pursue something by the summer. I been thinking constantly about something that I would like to do.
E-Mail 2 (Me to Entrepreneur)
The key to a successful web company is niche marketing. If you can find a niche that the big player have not exploited you'll have a chance at making money. This is why you might find success in a minority based program (depending on the industry).
Tell me a little about yourself. Are you in school? What are your long term goals? Do you have any money to invest in your business? How much time can you put into your business? What type of experience do you have on the Internet and in business? We need to find an idea that fits your life.
E-Mail 3 (Entrepreneur to Me)
I see what your saying. Well a little about me, I am in school but took this semester off. I am a 2nd semester soph though starting back up in the fall. I don't currently have much money to invest beside making 800 a month just working evening. I don’t have bills cause I stay with my mother til I finish school. I have lot of time to invest beside work from 5 to 11 4 days a week. I would dedicated all the rest of my time to a good biz idea if I have too!! I have experience on the web just not exp with business on the web. I also have business exp with my dad running his own youth bball club and me helping him with a ot of that. My long term goals is to become successful and make a lot of money online with something that I love to do and putting in a ot of hard work to do so. I am the first in my family to college and no one has a ot of money so I would like to do the opposite to help my family and make them proud. I have high drive for running a business and think about this all day of what I can do and where it will take me. I’ only 20 yr old right now.
E-Mail 4 (Me to Entrepreneur)
First off... get back in school ASAP. We will start there.
What type of social groups do you hang out with. I mean do you volunteer or do you work with any organizations at school. Do you have a large group of friends? What type of work do you do in the evenings? We need to find an audience for your project. You need someone to sell your service (or product) too. People always start with their widget and then go out and look for their customers. Try thinking about what customers you have easy access too and then look for a product to sell them.
This is the same for web projects. Look at the forums you belong too. Try to join as many as possible if you can join 10 forums and make 10-25 posts a week then after a few months you'll have a good audience to sell your ideas too. Try to avoid personal opinions and always use sources when needed. Think of this as building an online network of respected friends.
Lay the foundation for what ever idea you may come up with. Don't think you have to have a business up and running to be out selling.
Let me know if this all makes sense. I'm trying to give you some sort of direction towards finding what you truly want to do.
E-Mail 5 (Entrepreneur to Me)
Yeah it makes sense. Yeah, I am still taking 9 hrs this semester and 9 in summer. I just took a semester off from 18cr. I will be back at it though in august being that I only have 3 semesters left. I work in the evening at a bowling alley just being a server for the snack bar. I have a HUGE amount of friend from playing bball all my life and my dad owning a bball club for quite some time so I know a lot of people! I also do a lot of volunteer work with him helping kids from 5 to 17 with practice and other bball operations he conducts. I would like to provide some sort of online service Roger so that I can work around the clock even when school starts back up. I really appreciate all your help!!
E-Mail 6 (Me to Entrepreneur)
I think we are on to something here.
1- Set-up a forum where people can talk about basketball. I have a guy who can do that for about $100 or you can do a little research on the web and do it for free.
2- Set-up a Blog about basketball, training, and volunteering. Again I have people who can do this for $100 to $1000 depending on what you want. And again you can do a little research and do it on your own for free.
3- (In the near future) We can set you up with a website that combines your forum and your blog. Once you have the tow pieces up and running you can start looking to put together a site that can do all kinds of things. It can be a local site where you give the schedule of HS bball teams, where you list the names and phone numbers of local organization where people can play bball. If you can see where I'm going with this you have a ton of things you can do with your site.
4- (6-12 months) If you truly put some hard work into this then maybe in 6-12 months you can start to sell advertising space on your site. You would start with something simple like AdSense and then as your site stats grow you can look to sell space to local organizations, clubs, schools, stores, or what ever.
If you can put the pieces together (blog-forum-site) and then print some simple marketing materials that you can pass out to your friends, their friends, people you work with when you volunteer then you should be able to generate a decent following. It isn't easy but if you can get 100 people to subscribe to you blog and to use your forums you will have broken the start-up phase of your business plan.
Also, while doing this you will learn A LOT about starting an Internet business, marketing, advertising, and site development. We all have to have that first project and while many fail at their first attempt the experience and the education that you will get will prove to be very helpful in the future.
I hope this helps!
E-Mail 7 (Entrepreneur to Me)
I really like the idea a lot!!!!! Who do I need to contact to set it up? Can I get a domain from godaddy.. I would like to set up with topics of the nba, college and then youth by state so people in states can have there own and go to certain other states room to contact ppl bout tournaments and stuff. I would love to get this set up!! My next question would be how would I attract youth bball player to get on?? Being that most people under 17 aren't big on forums. I really like this idea tho. I know some similar to this idea that I would compete with but I really like it!!
E-Mail 8 (Me to Entrepreneur)
KISS- Keep It Simple *Stupid* (It's a generic term)
Start small... start local.. you have a lot of learning to do. Do a local blog... local forum... get some followers... use word of mouth to start...
E-Mail 9 (Entrepreneur to Me)
Sounds good. So what do I do about the blog if im not a writer?
E-Mail 10 (Me to Entrepreneur)
You'll find that if you are passionate about something... you'll be able to write... you only need to do 2-7 posts a week. Keep it simple... one can be ab announcement about an upcoming tournament... one can be on how to shoot free throws....