How to start a real small small business

Small Steps with kettle corn

Shawn popped up a business test in his own yard! Photo by Deb Brown

Your fellow reader Ava asked a great question:

If I am already working, in school, and wanting to start up just a real small small business, then how would that work differently from someone who is coming from a completely different stand point, like not working or in school and is just generally starting up their business with saved money? Thank you!

The secret to starting a real side hustle, side gig or just a real small small business is to take small steps.

Try small scale steps that get your idea in front of people who can pay for it. That’s how you’ll build knowledge of what works, build an initial following in the market, and build assets toward your next, bigger step.

headbands for sale on a counter in a beauty salon

You don’t need much to start small. Even one square foot of space may be enough. Photo by Becky McCray.

  • Try something temporary: pop-up for a day, a week or a season.
  • Try something tiny: look for just a few hundred square feet to set up in.
  • Try something together: set up your business inside an existing business, coworking space, maker space, shared art studio, or shared commercial kitchen.
  • Try a truck or trailer: use more than one town to gather enough customers.

For example, a high school student in Alva, Oklahoma, popped up a business test by borrowing just one square foot of counter space in a beauty salon. She sold hand braided headbands made from fabrics scraps.

Our Deb Brown wrote more about testing your way into business here: Business plans are not worth the paper they’re written on

Surprise twist: this is how I’d advise someone not working or in school, someone who was generally starting up their business with saved money, too.

You can ask your rural small business question here.

About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.

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