We talked to two of the most successful small business owners we could find, Mike Andes and Paul Akers, to help you learn how to start a business. Hours of interviews were conducted to get the information about starting a successful business. We’re going to share it all with you!
Mike Andes turned a childhood lawn care business into one of Entrepreneur’s top 500 franchises. Augusta Lawn Care Services has more than 40 franchisees across the U.S. In addition, Mike has gone on to get an MBA, write multiple books, and teach others how to create a successful business.
Paul Akers turned an idea for easy screw covers for cabinets into a successful business that launches 30 new products a year. Fast Cap has been introducing new products to increase the efficiency of cabinetry for nearly 25 years, and has developed a reputation as an expert in Lean Manufacturing.
How to Start a Business: The Ultimate Guide 2023
Between the two of them, they know everything you could possibly want to know about starting a small business and scaling it.
The steps to starting a business
Paul and Mike spent hours talking to us about business. From their discussions, we came up with a 13-step process to start your own business. Aspects of opening a business we’ll discuss include:
Identify a Problem
Proof of Concept
Build Quality Quicker
Total Addressable Market
Name the Business
Structure the Business
Preparing for Opening Day
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Know Yourself
Both of them agree that the first step to starting a business is knowing yourself, but they take a different approach to how to communicate it.
Mike suggests looking at three things:
You want to find the intersection of what you’re good at, what you can make money doing, and what you are passionate about.
If you don’t necessarily know what meets all these categories, there are a couple of tools available to help you. Here are some of my favorite:
Free Aptitude and Interest Tests: These recommend suggestions of what you are good at and can get paid for. Try a couple of the tests offered online.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: The BLS is a great place to get an idea of where wage growth and earnings are. Right now, manufacturing is where a ton of the growth is occurring
Paul agrees that you should love what you’re doing but that the primary focus should be asking yourself “What am I good at?” He goes even further and says:
You really have to be an expert in your field, or you almost don’t have a chance these days.
The difference between their advice seems to be the difference between service and creating goods.
If you are opening a business in a new field, make sure it’s one where providing great service is enough.
Once you have experience opening your first business, opening businesses in other fields becomes easier because you learn from your mistakes.
Step 2: How to Come up with Business Idea
When thinking about how to start a business, it’s important to remember that every business is a solution to a problem. If you have the problem, someone else probably does too. If you are doing something and think:
there’s a better way.
Follow that! Research it. Find a way to make it better. There’s a business idea.
Mike told us:
Look for ways to improve in your everyday life. There are problems to be solved every day. If it saves you time, it will save others time. The more time people save, the more they’ll pay for something.
Here are some questions that people have that may give you some ideas on how to start a business.
How can I start a business with no money?
Starting a company doesn’t have to cost a lot of money — or any for that matter. We asked Mike this question, and here’s what he told us:
In the landscaping industry, you can’t start a lawn mowing business without money cause you need a lawnmower, but you can sell your time and start a weed-pulling business.
So if you don’t have a lot of money, look at what you have available and ask yourself ” how do I start a business with what I have?”
What is the easiest business to start?
The easiest business to start will typically be a cleaning business, pet sitting business, rideshare business, or a freelancing business.
A house cleaning business is super easy. You should have all the supplies you need to open a cleaning business at your house. Find out how Christopher Mondragon turned less than $2k into a $125k/month cleaning business.
Starting a pet sitting business is also super easy. Just check out our definitive guide on starting a pet business.
Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft hire people as independent contractors. All you need is a car, a good driving record, and a business license. There are people who make up to $1,000/day. Theses are low pressure/low-cost ways to learn how to start a small business.
Freelancing on sites like upwork.com and Fiverr are also good ways to start if you have skills in writing, research, programming, or other in-demand fields.
Let’s keep moving through the steps to start a small business.
Step 2.5: Product Development
If you are building physical goods or are a web developer, you will need to do some product development and testing before you can really analyze the market.
This section will focus on the product development business model with information from Paul Akers.
Paul discusses 3 aspects that are a combination of identifying the idea and market research. They include:
Proof of Concept
Self Test, Beta Testing-Potentially Market Research
Build Quality Quicker-Potentially Market Research
Let’s look at each.
Proof of Concept
Proof of concept is the stage in idea generation where you turn your small business ideas into an actual product. Both physical and software products consider this “building a prototype,” sometimes called “wireframes” in software development.
A prototype for a physical product is normally semi-functional, while a prototype with software is mostly going to show the process that the user would go through visually. It does not have all the back-end coding that makes it work like a normal web application.
Proof of concept is the first test to see if your idea works. First, You need to know that what you have created works better than what you were using before. Then, if you find yourself still going for the old solution, it didn’t solve the problem.