One of the things I love most about my job is meeting accidental entrepreneurs. There’s an undeniable trend of people who want to be their own boss, who hustle to achieve the American dream, and who want to break free from the corporate world. I love those guys too, but there’s a special place in my heart for the accidental entrepreneurs; the ones who never intended to start a business, whose creativity and passion has evolved into something that makes them think ‘hey, I might have something here’.
Accidental entrepreneurs find themselves at the intersection between something they like doing or are good at, and what other people care about and are willing to pay for. This is something Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, calls The Lesson of Convergence. They don’t necessarily have formal training and they don’t follow a business plan but they recognize that they provide value and figure things out along the way.
Fortunately, today’s technology makes figuring it out easier than ever. You can get access to resources from across the globe, you can tap into thousands of potential brand advocates through social media and you can have an e-commerce website up and running with a couple of iPhone pictures and a few clicks of a button. Never has freedom been so accessible. Though it is entirely possible to end up living the #entrepreneurlife, it isn’t necessarily easy, especially when it’s unplanned.
If you’re an accidental entrepreneur and you’re in the process of scaling your idea into a business, you’ll need these 5 key elements to get started:
1. Sense of resourcefulness
You don’t need to have a Master’s in Business to run a business, you don’t even necessarily need to have a particular area of expertise but what you do need, is a sense of resourcefulness. This skill may require some fine tuning throughout your journey but is arguably the most important element in scaling your business.
Internal resourcefulness will require some skill transformation. Skill transformation is understanding that you’re likely good at more than just one thing, looking beyond the obvious of your every-day strengths, and making the most of your related skills to get the job done.
External resourcefulness is understanding when you truly lack the skills needed to keep the ball rolling and tapping into your network to pull additional resources and expertise together.
2. Something to sell
Whether it’s a product or service, you’ll need something to offer your customers. Who would’ve thought?
3. A value proposition
What is valuable to me may not be valuable to you, and vice versa, but regardless of personal opinion, if someone sees worth in what you are offering and wants it, it is valuable - at least to them. Your value proposition is a promise to your customers of the value they can expect to receive from doing business with you. It should explain how your product or service can improve their situation, the specific benefits and what makes you unique. By combining your product or service with your value proposition messaging, you’ve set the foundation for a relationship and not just a transaction; this increases your chance for repeat customers.
As you may have guessed it, you’ll need a clientele. The people who see value in your product or service are your ideal audience. While your audience has the ability to evolve and grow, take advantage of the lowest hanging fruit while getting your business off the ground. An audience that resonates with your value proposition will be crucial to generating more awareness and ultimately more sales in the early phases of your business.
5. A means of getting paid
I’m going to give another shout-out to today’s technology on this one. Thanks to the ever-evolving payments industry, entrepreneurs have a variety of tools and platforms to choose from that makes getting paid easier than ever before. Payment companies vary in cost and benefits so it’s worthwhile to do your homework and see which one is best for you. Entrepreneur.com offered a great resource for people just like you, 25 Payment Tools for Small Businesses, Freelancers and Startups.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” - Aristotle
Each element on its own does not equate to a business, but put them together and guess what? You’re officially an entrepreneur, whether accidentally or not.