Lifted from a reddit post I made on r/entrepreneur:
Stop thinking of shitty ideas and start asking real people what they want for money.
You do this by picking an audience. You decide DENTISTS.
You find email address and names for dentists. You have to figure out how to do it. You pay someone or you program it or you do it yourself in a google spreadsheet for free. Stop being a little wuss, you have to keep going.
Next you email them and you ask them for their professional opinion about the worst part of doing business as a dentist. You test your email to figure out what gets the best response. You google how to do this better and improve and keep sending emails to dentists.
When they give you anything, you say “You seem really knowledgeable and I’m wondering if I can call and ask a few more questions.” Send this from your personal email address and be a real person asking with a real face they can google for. If you are young, say “I am young and simply interested in becoming a business owner like you”. Sucking up helps.
Get them on the phone. Ask them about the hardest part of doing business for them. The biggest headache they have when working. The thing she/he feels like they’re wasting money on. What sucks about running a dental business? What’s the best check you write each month? What do your colleagues complain about? What’s the most common problem in your industry, do you think, and if you’ve handled it successfully, how have you done it?
You will get a ton of information and building this skillset is absolutely invaluable as an entrepreneur and is 100% why I know I will always be able to start a business that I own. This is exactly how I started my business. I figured out an audience needed help with one task and that a huge percentage of them need help doing it or else they don’t make as much money in their business.
I just straight up asked “What is the best check you write each month?” and she told me what it was and for how much. That was $350/month, btw.
Back to you!! You talked to a dentist on the phone. Time to talk to another 20 on the phone. For an hour or more, as much time as you can get with them. Writing notes down on a pad or app the whole time. Contact info and email address as well.
This is how you begin creating a business.
The next step is to test market your product in multiple channels (cold email, google ads, bing ads, facebook ads, linkedin ads, craigslist) to prove you can make money advertising to them.
Here’s the thing about all of this. You are going to wuss out and not do this because most people do, and that’s what separates those of us who make it work through straight up actually trying and then not giving up, vs people who never try, or get their first no and give up immediately. I understand it’s scary. Get over it. You can’t be a wuss and make this work.
So don’t wuss out. Do this shit. Do it. Like, actually do it. You will amaze yourself.
I know what you’re thinking: dude I’m just 16 or 36 or I’m a woman or I’m balbalhlhasblahd and I have no credibility, why would they listen to me?
You won’t believe me when I tell you that I have done this and know from experience that saying the following is authentic, real, and works:
“I am just trying to understand how your industry works and am thinking about starting a business in your industry. I have nothing to sell or offer, just a lot of questions. I’m curious and you seem like you know a lot about your industry. Just thought I would ask.”
Send a lot of emails, get a ton of no’s, but just actually do it. Actually get started.
[Edit: Posting this 5 years later still growing this business]