If you have read either of my previous books in the “How To Become A Startup Pro - On The Side” series, you will know that I’m a staunch advocate of not reinventing the wheel and not feeling compelled to do everything yourself. I mention this again here because I cannot stress enough just how important this point is. Your role as a creative entrepreneur is not to spend all of your time in the weeds doing the work. Remember you are the brains not hands? Hands are a cheap and easy commodity to come by, brains, on the other hand, particularly good ones, are much harder to find. Your primary role is to generate ideas, define solutions and provide answers to problems that others can't. In short, your role is translating the seemingly impossible into a reality.
Just because you may not know how to do or produce something yourself, don't make the often-catastrophic mistake of dismissing a great idea as an unachievable pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. This is one of the most common reasons why would-be entrepreneurs fail. New creators often make the critically incorrect assumption that they have to be able to make, produce or service everything themselves and that any viable business opportunity can only ever be based upon their current skills, knowledge and expertise. Well, I am here to tell you that this is the thinking of a follower and not that of a leader. A leader directs, orchestrates and facilitates conditions where progress can be made. Skills can be easily learned or maximised, and the expertise of others simply leveraged where required. Leaders take action, make things happen and provide the tools, direction and support for those around them to produce their best work.
I have interests in a number of businesses where I do not produce the product or service myself. I could not manufacture, package, distribute and sell some of my products at scale, it would be impossible, so I get others to do the work for me. Take my small boutique confectionery business for example. I could not possibly make the products at scale in my kitchen, even in modest quantities. There are also the strict food hygiene laws, regulations and compliance to consider. I simply built the business infrastructure to a point where it was financially viable to outsource the manufacturing, storage and fulfilment elements. Now here is the good bit, it's nowhere near as complex or difficult as it sounds, and it’s a key component to scaling your time and revenue generation capacity.
This was a purely bootstrapped micro business and here is how I did it. To start with I devised a number of base recipes as a starting point and produced a range of samples to test my initial assumptions about the potential market and product. It was imperative to gain customer feedback so I could hone the final look and taste whilst gauging my pricing strategy and potential distribution methods. Once completed I built a simple online store myself using free tools and payment plugins, and then negotiated with a small local manufacturer to produce what I needed in small batches to my own specifications and price points.
Customer orders are taken online, collated, and then the stock is collected locally from the manufacturer and dispatched as needed. This operation virtually runs itself with a couple of hours of investment every day for packaging and fulfilment. I have even handed over the day-to-day operations to someone else to manage for me. Yes, my profit margins are lower than if I did it all myself, but I have traded limited time and effort for longer-term scalable profit potential that's devoid of hard work, time investment and continued personal involvement. Removing myself from being the business not only adds scale but also allows the generation of near passive income.
Startup Pro Insight: Do not dismiss good opportunities that involve significant manual effort and time overhead in the initial stages. Do what you need to do to get it up and running and established, and then spend your time and effort on outsourcing and automating what you can. An important principle to learn here is that it's possible to automate, outsource or delegate pretty much anything and everything if you’re inventive and resourceful enough. Don’t be put off by the fact that outsourcing and automating your production, distribution and fulfilment incurs additional costs. Considered cost for the capability to quickly scale, especially if the opportunity can deliver passive or near passive revenue, is a trade well worth making, with the caveat that you still need to remain competitive and profitable of course.
Whatever great ideas you have bubbling away in your head right now, the chances are they can be translated into tangible products or services by someone, somewhere. You do not have to do it all yourself, in fact, your default position should be not to do it yourself. When I first realised this some years ago it lifted the lid on limitless opportunities that were only constrained by my own thinking and imagination. I repeat, anything that you can conceive can be developed, built, manufactured, distributed and sold for you by others. Always keep in mind that the skills to do the actual “doing” work are easily found. The real talents that entrepreneurs bring to the table and get paid for are capability, vision, motivation, creation and facilitation.
© 2019 James Kingham | All rights reserved.