The key to sustainable entrepreneurship for those in a 9-to-5 is not some cinematic quitting of their jobs, but leveraging their own advantage via their own background and knowledge.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Being “100% committed” is a noble goal, but it deludes people into thinking that they have to fully invest in entrepreneurship without testing the waters first.
When the pandemic started, I toyed with an idea of creating a startup, but the hardest part is coming up with a viable idea. By this stage of my career I’d built up a decent amount of experience within the world of remote work, tech outsourcing and software development and all of it lead to my epiphany: The key to a startup when you have had many jobs in a certain industry is to build your business around previous experience.
Step 1: Look to the knowledge gap
When I was first coming up with the concept I realized that so much of my experience within the outsourcing industry was shrouded from the everyday person. Even something as simple as brand recognition is fairly nonexistent in the B2B space. I confirmed the suspicions with a quick Google search. There was content about several of the topics that a prospective buyer should know but it was all biased, short and failed to give a true insight into the industry. This was my opportunity to seize on the gap and help people through my unique perspective.
Related: Start, run and grow your business.
Step 2: Choose the form for your startup
As a long time member of the app development community, I’ve seen my fair share of wasted budgets on poor ideas. Not to say that an app isn’t appropriate in certain circumstances, but it is often much better to prove product-market fit early rather than spend extra money on a bad idea. To that end, my business partner and I decided a simple website was the best starting point to generate an audience and prove if there was a real market need for our business.
Step 3: Test viability with a quick MVP
Before investing too many funds into this endeavor, I wanted to see whether an audience could even be generated. We quickly settled on an MVP that consisted of 25 articles and a variety of topics to determine feasibility. Speed was essential, so as to fit this startup endeavor around our full-time work schedules. After taking over a week to produce the first article, we quickly streamlined the process. My business partner would interview me on particular topics and we would create 30 minute Zoom recordings. Those recordings were then given to a writer who was able to take inspiration from the videos and create complete pieces of content. By doing two interviews a week we achieved a viable MVP in just 12 weeks.
Related: 5 Ways Lean Teams Can Work Smarter and Get More Done
Step 4: Leave your ego at the door
The reason you use your personal experience as a starting point is that it is relatively frictionless and you have an in-built advantage against potential competition. The step here is to listen to where your background and your audience’s interest intersect. The initial results were surprising: International content was the best from our digital nomad and entrepreneur visa index to the best software recommendations for distributed tech and SaaS companies. Even though my primary role in outsourced software development was the original motivator for creating my startup, my audience was more interested in the systems I used to manage a remote team across five countries. Leaving my ego at the door, I pivoted to focus on the latter.
Results and rewards
The site now receives 3000 views a month from a tech-oriented audience and has been featured in “Forbes”, “Ad Age”, “Hacker Noon” and Business.com. Not only has this my concept been proven, it’s all been done with less than an hour of work a week all while maintaining a full-time job. This is the key to sustainable entrepreneurship – not to glorify 18 hour work days and associated burnout, but to implement a methodical and consistent approach.
Now the burning question: Was my employer mad about it? Not only did they applaud my experiments, NanoGlobals even reactivated a 6-figure client relationship that had gone cold. Creating a startup focused on your experience could be the best investment you’ve ever made.
Related: The 5 Most Powerful Partnerships You Can Have to Achieve Your Goals