Starting Out Big When You’re Starting Out Small

When you’re starting any business — an Internet business, for example, with a new website and an e-mail list of zero names — the thought of competing with the established companies out there can be intimidating. And if you’re trying to set up a partnership or joint venture, the fact that you’ve just started can seem like an insurmountable hurdle.

That’s the way I felt a few months back when I was getting into a business that was new for me: Doing commercial voiceover work. But I put into place some advice that I am always giving my clients. And it worked beautifully to open doors for me.

The advice? “Focus on your strengths.”

I’ve got 25 years of public speaking under my belt, and last summer a client gave me the opportunity to do some voiceover work for him. The project was a success — and it cemented my decision to get some coaching, become proficient in voiceover, and build that part of my consulting business.

Call it coincidence, but the day after I made that decision I discovered that a major conference of top voiceover professionals was being held the following weekend just down the road from me in Portland, Oregon. The only problem was that, to attend, I needed to be a working voiceover professional with at least a year of experience — which, of course, I didn’t have.

What I did have was 25 years of experience in business and marketing. And when I did some research, I found that many voiceover artists were asking business and marketing questions on discussion boards. In general, there appeared to be a lack of self-promotion skills in the voiceover community.

So I put my best foot forward and wrote an e-mail to the organizers of the conference. I explained that, although I’d just started out in voiceover, I had 25 years of international business and marketing experience — and that I would love to attend, contribute, and share my expertise with the other attendees.

A few weeks later, I was voted one of the best presenters at the event, where I made some great business and personal connections. As a result of a referral from one of those connections, I’ve just completed a university-accredited course in voiceover with a top LA voiceover coach, and the skills I’ve learned have more than paid for my investment. But if I’d given up because I didn’t have the “official” requirements to attend the conference, none of this would have happened.

When you are starting your own business, the business may be new but there’s a strong possibility that you have at least 5 years of experience (perhaps many more) in a related field. And that’s what you focus on.

Let’s say you’re contacting potential business and joint venture partners. Astute business owners, marketers, and e-mail list owners are always looking for new ideas to captivate their customers. So if you can bring something fresh and relevant to the table, you improve your chances of working with them.

Look for something in your experience that you can apply. If, for example, you are starting an investment newsletter and have 15 years of experience as a successful trader, that 15 years of experience is your strength. If you’re starting a website to show the best trout fishing locations in Oregon and you’ve been trout fishing for the last 35 years, focus on those 35 years.

In other words, find something in your experience that will be useful to the people you want to connect with — whether they’re potential partners or customers. (For me, it was that the voiceover community needed strong marketing and promotional skills.)

A side benefit of starting a new venture while “piggybacking” on your existing strengths is that you quickly gain credibility. (I gained immediate implied credibility at the voiceover conference because of my depth of experience in marketing.)

Kicking off a new venture in this way will help you overcome any resistance based on your being too “new.”

[Ed Note: If you are looking to start an online business to capitalize on your professional experience but aren’t sure where to begin, we have the answer you are looking for. The Internet Money Club was designed to teach anyone, regardless of past experience (in business or online) how to start and grow a profitable Internet business. You’ll learn about e-mail list building, product and content creation, joint ventures and affiliate marketing, copywriting, and much more. But you must hurry. Once we have 250 new members, the doors to the IMC will be closed for another year. So don’t wait.