I had completed my freelancer profile on Elance, now Upwork, and launched my career as a freelance writer. But as a non-native speaker from Nigeria, northern Nigeria to be precise, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. My inner voice talking to me mattered.
“You’re a great writer,” the inner voice encouraged me. “Click the submit button.”
I clicked it.
And I’ll tell you what happened next in a moment, but first…
How to Build a Business That Lasts
The trick to building a lasting business is to discover your talent, formulate it into a business idea, and turn the idea into a product or saleable service. Make the idea memorable. Brand it.
All great ideas were once abstract concepts before they were created into paid products.
Creating a business from your personal skills is the key to building a business that lasts. Why? Because when you turn your passion into a business, you’ll feel as though it’s just your personal project. This means you’ll never get tired, bored, or even feel that you’re working.
Even if you make $0.00 at the end of first twelve or twenty-four months of your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll not pack your sheets, shut down your online store, and wave bye-bye to your startup. The reason?
You’re not doing it for money. You’re doing it for the love.
The best CEOs know that love has a powerful effect on a business as much as it does in marriage. They know that money is sweet but love is sweeter. It lasts longer than money. From top business titans to small startup founders, successful entrepreneurs always ask this one single question: Are my ideas bigger than my fears?
The richest man on the earth Jeff Bezos built Amazon after answering that question in the affirmative. And years later, many successful Amazon sellers become millionaires doing the same.
But how do they do it?
How to Turn Your Abstract Idea Into Physical or Virtual Product
Think of it this way, every fruitful business is watered with both a unique product and amazing customer experience. At the end of the day, your customers aren’t interested in you, your talent, or your business ideas. Their concern is about themselves, the value that your product will bring in to their life.
Once you figured out what you’re good at, move further to interrogate the idea. To do so, ask the following questions:
- Is the idea really noble and great and profitable, or is it just your own wishful thinking?
- If you’re really good at a specific skill, for example, then how does that skill bring 10x value to your market segment?
- What’s the Unique Selling Point (USP) of that skill or idea of yours?
To answer all these questions, you need to immerse yourself in deep market research about your newly founded business idea, about your unique powers and natural endowments, about your market, clients, and industry at large.
Additionally, you need the confidence to believe in yourself, and be realistic about your shortcomings. You also need a strong commitment to keep digging, working, hunting … until you found that unique “something” worth paying for. When you find that “something” worth paying for, what should you do next?
Companies that are worth their salt have a good reputation of being producers of quality products and deliverers of amazing experiences.
They built that reputation because they prepared themselves for challenges: They believed in their ideas. They researched their competition. And above all, they were confident that their product would stand out in the marketplace.
So they got to work:
They spent time to perfect their product—getting all the features right—so that the product would do what it said it would do, without glitches and bugs. Mark Zuckerberg’s early preparation—investing heavily on TheFacebook servers to make sure that the site didn’t crash—was a case in point.
Your entrepreneurial journey is, therefore, a long walk through an uneasy, uncertain path. There are no shortcuts. Be prepared for it.
You have researched your market and are prepared to dominate it, right? Your next step is to start selling your product or service to your friends and family in your locality.
In other words, audition in front of a small audience, get some feedback, pivot, and practice again. In 1981, the Beastie Boys started on a small scale, rapping at rehearsals, testing their “rap product” to a handful of audience in Kansas City.
During the course of their performances, the Beastie Boys realized that the audience preferred rap to punk. They pivoted. They started preparing to perform in front of a larger audience.
The Beastie Boys released their first hip hop track, and it immediately caught fire in New York nightclubs. Decades later, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, thanks to the feedback they got from their small-scale performances at local night clubs. They never failed.
If you want to build a lasting business, it doesn’t matter if you’re a New Yorker or a Nigerian. Just be ready to refine your ideas, turn them into products, ship the products to a small-scale market segment in your community, and gather enough feedback. Then refine the product again and face the world.
Now back to my story…
“Okay,” I said. “I clicked the ‘submit’ button.”
“Good,” said my inner voice, followed by a deep breath.
That morning I went out with the boys and played football, then went to the gym to flush out the fears that buckled my mind. The next morning I began writing and proposing jobs with full confidence and commitment. Seven years later, I became a full-time freelance writer, occasionally earning six-figures a year.
The business never failed.