aka: how to have you ice cream and eat it too!

Last year I took part in a wonderful business course called Rich Happy and Hot B-School with Marie Forleo and one of the bonus sections of this course was Ramit Sethi’s guide on how to earn your first $1000. How and where to begin.
Now, if you are anything like me with grand dreams of being self employed, then Ramit is your go-to guy. (So is Marie Forleo on that note!) You can find out more about him at Earn 1 K and I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Here’s what he recommends.

Step 1: Define Your Skills: Start by writing down all of your skills in 5 minutes ONLY. Skills are things like photography, html code, writing, driving, etc. You don’t have to be “the world’s greatest…”, just decent at it.
Step 2: Define Your Strengths: 
A close friend, coworker or family member can be a huge help in defining your strengths, so you may want to call someone up to get some feedback for this one.
Write down all the strengths you know you have. Strengths can be “good at negotiating,” “personable” or “decisive.”
Step 3: Find Your Interests 
Write down everything you are interested in. If you are stuck, think about the types of things you do on your day off. Think about the blogs or websites you visit. When you find yourself with an hour of time, how do you spend it?
Step 4: Put it all together 
Take your three lists, and look for intersections. Can you find a common thread?
Write down three potential services you could offer based on your lists. Keep in mind that it you don’t always have to incorporate all three categories.

Step 5: Find Your Market

Research your ideas. You can do some Google and Craigslist searches to see what comes up. Is anyone currently offering what you might offer? That’s a good thing.

Examples: Transforming skills-strengths-interests into viable business ideas
Here are three real life examples of what to watch out for when crafting your idea.
1) Example 1: Test the Waters Before Jumping In
Matt loves dogs, wanted freedom and wanted to try out running his own business bringing these two interests / skills together. Seems like he could put that together into something, right? He ended up coming up with the idea of a dog sitting business (this is a completely true story of Matt Cheney, who worked with me at IWillTeach last year).
In the VERY beginning of the business, Matt had a great time — taking care of dogs, getting some extra income, and doing preliminary marketing for his services.
But a couple of things started closing in on him — and these all had to do with execution. For example, Matt didn’t realize that he would also become the Chief Financial Officer, the counselor, the customer service rep, the cashier, etc, and bad stuff started to happen. If he had tested the model by starting out freelancing instead of jumping right into forming an S-Corp, getting a bad business partner, taking out loans, etc. he would have realized that this wasn’t a very good fit.
Lesson: Start small, get a few customers and test the waters. It’s low risk, and high reward.

2) Example 2: Where’s the Viable Market?

April D. loves yoga, and loves writing. Naturally, she figured she’d simply put the two together and dollars would start raining from the sky. Copywriting and newsletters for yoga studios — perfect, right?
Uh, do yoga studios need newsletters and copywriting? If they think they need it, how BADLY do they need it? Enough that they’re willing to PAY for it?
April was one of my Earn1k alums who went through the entire program and ended up doubling her income AND quitting her suffocating 9 to 5 job to go freelance full-time.
She DIDN’T get these results by copywriting newsletters for yoga studios.
April nailed down her skills, strengths and interests, and used Earn1k to perfect the critical last ingredient — identifying and testing a paying market.
The full Earn1k course — which took April from a stifled cubicle worker to an independent freelancer — includes exclusive HD video of some of today’s most successful freelancers, audio recordings, case studies, and original Master Classes with entrepreneurs who put together some of their top strategies for Earn1k members only.
You can’t join Earn1K right now — it’s closed.  But Ramit will be re-opening the course later on.  Stay tuned.
Image source.

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