A few friends who have been thinking about the self employed life have asked me how I learned what I know about running a business.

On the surface, I am a weird person to ask. I’m a geology major with a teaching certification. What do I know about running a business? Apparently enough!

Here are a few of my favorite resources to consider in terms of business development:

1) Earn 1K
So if you aren’t sure what you want to do in terms of work, this is the best place to start. Ramit Seti has a free idea generator to help you come up with business ideas. His online class costs $1000 but the idea is you earn that money (and then some) back over time. Among the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

2) Local Resources
If you are looking for long term support and your timing is right, WHCA here in Downeast Maine has a program called Incubator Without Walls.  Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development has a ‘Top Gun’ program running in the Portland area. These are both longer term programs (months to a year) that you do with a group of other people like yourself and people I know who have been through them really enjoyed them and got a lot of useful info out of them.

If you want something that’s a shorter time frame or just some one-on-one consulting to help you finish up your plan, you can try something like Women Work and Community whose ‘New Ventures’ class I took four years ago. 

Whether you live near me in Maine or not, you no doubt have some local business consulting resources supported by a local university, the government, or a business-related non-profit. Leave a comment with this blog post and let us know what you find in your corner of the world… you can help someone else out! 

3) Books
I joke around with my friends that if I ever wrote a business book it’d be really short:

1) Do good work.
2) Be nice to people.
3) Don’t spend more money than you make.

That said, there are lots of great books about starting a business out there. Personally I enjoy reading the biography type books. Like I got way more at of Poppy King’s “Confessions of a Lipstick Queen” (she starting a lipstick company out of high school) than I was expecting to when I paid $1.99 for it at Mardens.

I don’t believe you have to learn from people in your field necessarily, just sometimes hearing a concept put a different way can help. Right now, I’m working on “$100 Startup “.

4) Other People

There’s a fine line between listening to other people and letting them run the show. My initial instinct when people ask me about changing how I do something is “No!” But instead of saying that out loud, I take a breath and say “Why do you say that?”

Guess what? While I didn’t screw up anything in my business entirely (yet), I didn’t necessarily set it up to be the most well oiled machine possible. So when other people look at something and have an idea, it might be a good to listen to it. Alice coming on board has brought some great new ideas for example.

That said, if I know the rationale and something still doesn’t feel right in my gut, I won’t do it. I once heard somewhere that your brain takes in a lot more information than you realize you are processing so that ‘gut feeling’ you get is actually your brain taking it all into account and spitting out a valid answer. But understand what you are saying no to before you actually say it.

So with a combination of courses, self reflection, books, and other people’s opinions who you trust, you’ll get a lot of good information about running a business that’ll help in other aspects of your life. And while a business degree is helpful, don’t let not having one stop you from going after what you want. I didn’t. :^)

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