One of the main struggles I see with my clients and the other wanna-be entrepreneurs I’m connected to, is that they come at their new business with this all-or-nothing mentality. They think they have to have it ALL figured out before they start, or else they can’t start.
This happens especially when people are trying to figure out what services to offer, and how to package their products. And most people go about it all backwards (myself included – I totally did this!).
You think about what you might want to offer, then you spend tons of time thinking about how to package it, writing website copy for a sales page, deciding on pricing, and getting the nuts and blots figured out… but you do all this BEFORE you have even tested out your service!
Enter income projects. I first learned about this term from my colleague Alex Baisley, and everything clicked.
What if instead of starting a business, you just started a small project to see how it feels to actually be doing what you think you want to be doing. Like, in real life. With real people. On a really small, no-pressure scale.
So instead of having to make the logo, and come up with the business name, and create the website, and write a sales page, and start a Facebook group and all the other stuff most people think are the first steps – what if you just started actually doing your work with people? And you get to make a little money on the side by charging a nominal fee while you test out all your different ideas (hence why it’s called an income project).
Income projects are great because they take all the pressure off, and they don’t feel as heavy as “starting a business”. And they can usually be done in a matter of a week, so it’s not like you need endless time to plan it.
Here’s a real life example of how an income project might work: Dale has a cooking business where she caters events and bakes super unique cakes for special occasions. She wants to start building her business more online, and wants to start offering online cooking classes, but she’s trying to figure out if this is a good idea or not. So take the mystery out of it and test it out! What Dale could do would be to grab a friend or a current client and say “Hey, I’m thinking of doing cooking classes online. Will you be my guinea pig?”. Then she can figure out a rough idea of how she might like to structure it, and test it out with her friend/client for free or for a low cost.
Another example: Lindsay can’t decide if she wants to start a business based around graphic design, or copywriting, or baking, or fashion coaching. So she might start 4 different income projects to test out these different ways of working with people and see what she enjoys. “Hey, friend, I think I want to start a fashion coaching business. I know you suck at dressing yourself and that you have that big interview coming up. Can I work with you to help you choose the perfect outfit, and see how it goes?” Easy Peasey. She might also connect with someone from the new Uncaged Lifers Facebook group and say “Hey – I’ve always been a writer and I think I want to try my hand at copywriting. Can I help you craft the perfect tagline? I’ll only charge ya $25 as long as you write me a sweet testimonial (if you love what I create for you)” Bam – another income project! Lindsay gets to help someone and test her ideas, and her friend gets some free help and can offer great feedback about how it went on her end, as the client.
Starting a project will help you will learn a TON about how you want to work with people, what works and what doesn’t, but you’ll get great feedback (and maybe even your first testimonial!). And then you can tweak and change and try it again and your services will just start to fall into place.
Instead of sitting there and trying to hammer things out through thinking, you get to let them evolve organically by doing.
Then when you know what you LOVE doing, when you know what you’re GOOD at what you’re doing (based on the feedback you get), and you start to get the feeling that you might want to expand on what you have already tried, then you can start to think about how these projects might take shape as actual business offerings.
Doesn’t that feel so much better than trying to figure it all out ahead of time? NO ONE* (*actual statistic) got it right on the first try. All the people you see killing it online are killing it because they worked their way up through trial and error to eventually find their perfect sweet spot.
Start a project, not a business. It’s WAY easier and will actually get you there faster, because it will take the pressure off AND it will let you finally get started doing something. Sounds way better than being stuck in “I have to get it right!” mode and thus doing nothing, right?
I’d love to hear from you! Are you having trouble figuring out what to offer? What is an income project that you could test out this week that would help you get started? Post your income project idea below and maybe someone in the comments will be willing to be your first test client!