This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.We all know the types of people who are great at finding the reasons why something won’t work or can’t be done.When starting a business, you’ll most likely encounter such naysayers who will be quick to give you unsolicited advice or a comment about your newly found passion and as they always do, find many reasons why you’ll fail. If you succumb to such people and don’t rise above it, you’re doomed, for before you know it you’ll be back to 9-5 in a dead end job. That’s not where you want to be ever again after you’ve made up your mind to make something of yourself and start your business.Here are 5 myths about starting a business that I’ve encountered the most.Myth #1 – You Need A Winning IdeaIt’s been said time and again that ideas are dime a dozen, and for a good reason. People often get all worked up around an idea they come up with for their business and shield it with their life, for God forbid someone should steal it. I find this to be very funny simply because I know exactly what it takes to take an idea – average or otherwise – from conception to an established business that’s profitable.Truth be told, to start a business you’ve got to have an idea for a product or a service that could ultimately meet your target audience’s unmet needs, wants and desires. You must know why you want to go into a business in the first place and who your target audience is. People don’t just wake up one day and start a business on a whim, it takes a fair bit of planning and research beforehand.So, forget about trying to find a winning idea but focus on the market and prospective clients instead, become market driven and customer centric so that you can obtain enough of real time intel on the market needs, wants and pains – only then can you come up with an adequate idea. Thereafter, time can only tell if your idea is a winning one or not, whether your business is a hero or a zero.Myth #2 – You Need A Full-Fledged Business PlanWhile the business plan is good to have when starting a business, it’s not necessarily a must. I know, many people and business pundits would disagree with me but then again, ask many of today’s most successful entrepreneurs turned billionaires about their business plans and ambitions they’ve had for their businesses when they were starting out and I’m sure you’ll be surprised.I still remember that interview in Palo Alto, California from 2004 with then very young Mark Zuckerberg, during which he clearly stated that Facebook is ”an online directory for colleges” and that his vision for Facebook is “to create a college directory product for students.” We all know what has happened since and where Facebook is today.This doesn’t mean that you should not know why you want to go into a business, who your target audience is and how will you go about promoting and ultimately selling your product or a service into a marketplace. Business plan is meant to cover the aforementioned points along with many others which are less pertinent to starting a business. So assuming you have the answers to the foregoing three points, you can draft a simple 1-3 pages document and call it what you may – even a business plan if you wish – which you’ll use as your reference point as you go along and build the business of your dreams.Myth #3 – You’ve Got to Wait for The Perfect TimeEverything that surrounds us e.g., people, nature, beauty, wealth, time etc. is relative and in an of itself, perfect. Only when things are compared to other similar things do they lose their perfection and become different things to different people. Time is no different, an abundant year filled with good health, laughter, love and business success when compared to another less abundant year, is considered to be by far better and more desirable.The perfect time is similar to the perfect place to start a business; a mythical place e.g., Silicon Valley where businesses are born to grow into a multibillion dollars’ businesses. If this myth were true, there would be no successful businesses or rich people anywhere else in the world and all of the businesses in the Silicon Valley would be multibillion dollars businesses. Again, some times and places might be more conducive to a business success than others but there’s no such a thing as the perfect time or the perfect place so don’t wait or look for it.We all know the naysayers and ‘blame-it-on-the-others’ kind of people who would give a thousand reasons why something can’t be done and not one of those reasons is them. We’ve all heard people blame their circumstances, family, kids etc. for not being able to get their life’s in order or start their dream businesses. Taking a full responsibility for one’s life is the starting point of all achievement. You’ve got to own it.Myth #4 – You Need A Lot Of Money“Money makes money” is an old adage which I believe to be very true. However, times have changed – globalization brought about by the advancements in transportation, communication and technology over the past 25 years has forever changed the business paradigm and the way money is being made, globally. Today, there are bloggers world over who make well over $100K a month by blogging about things close to their hearts from the comfort of their homes, using nothing more than a WordPress and a laptop.Similarly, a stupendous growth of online outsourcing in the last five years, made possible by the advancement and proliferation of the freelancing platforms of all kinds has enabled web developers, graphic designers, tutors, artist and many other professionals to make a comfortable living from the comfort of their own home with little to no startup capital.One of the reasons that you hear and read about so many startups globally is the very simplicity and affordability of starting a business. If for whatever reason your starting a business is contingent on securing a huge capital investment or the money that you currently don’t have or can’t spend, you can always turn to OPM or other people’s money. The world is full of angel investors and venture capitalists with deep pockets who are eager to find and invest in promising startups that fit their investment portfolio and risk appetite.Myth #5 – Build It And They Will ComeLet’s assume you come up with a great business idea for a service or a product which you believe your target audience will absolutely love and beat a path to your door. You prudently test your idea amongst your family, friends and business acquaintances who give you the stamp of approval, unanimously. With a cheeky smile on your face and full confidence, you launch it in anticipation of a feeding frenzy but weeks and months into it, no one shows up.The result of throwing a house party without an RSVP is undoubtedly an empty house party. Similarly, launching a product or a service – no matter how awesome it may be – into a marketplace without a prior due diligence and adequate action plan is ludicrous. The world of ours has become a very noisy place that makes anyone or any business standing out extremely challenging.Instead of building a product or a service and launching it into a marketplace blindly and unprepared, leverage the power of internet, blogs, social media etc. well before you launch. Ideally, what you need to do is create a tribe of followers or a community of people who share your business’s vision well before you introduce your product or a service into a marketplace. You can achieve this by starting a relevant blog, online community, actively participating in public discussions on Quora, reddit, StumbleUpon, Twitter etc.Wrapping It All UpThe world is filled with naysayers who will give you a thousand reasons why something can’t be done simply because they couldn’t do it. Don’t believe them and know with every fiber of your being that if you’re truly serious about starting a business, have an idea that you’re so passionate about and have the staying power to whether many of the hardships and obstacles startups is bound to encounter, don’t wait for the perfect time or the money but jump right in with both feet and don’t look back nor have a plan B, for if you do, you’re subconsciously setting yourself up for failure and you don’t want that.Think, act, be.Dzenan Skulj is Co-Founder & CEO at Parttimerz. A visionary entrepreneur and eternal student of life in relentless pursuit of enlightenment and utter fulfillment.
Corporate Carbon Pricing at COP21Carbon pricing will be a hot topic among companies attending COP 21 in Paris this week and next. Several events will bring together business and government leaders to talk carbon pricing, including:The formal launch of a Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, convened by the World Bank Group, to inform policies emerging in countries around the world.A high-level meeting of chief executives from the UN’s Caring for Climate initiative and government ministers on December 8 as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. Don’t: Assume all companies are going to have a similar or comparable carbon price.Do: Recognize that companies put a price on carbon in different ways and for different purposes.As tempting as it may be to compare one company’s carbon price to another’s, the first step should be clarifying objectives and approaches. One company may be most interested in carbon pricing as a tool for preparing for current or future national, regional or local regulations. It might use a “shadow price” to represent costs associated with reducing GHG emissions in its operations or value chain, as Statoil, Eskom and Novartis are doing. Another company, meanwhile, may be using a carbon price to collect internal funds to help achieve its GHG reduction targets, as Microsoft and Ben & Jerry’s are doing. That company might have an internal tax or fee to support projects that reduce GHGs in its operations or supply chain. These different objectives and approaches to carbon pricing mean that the price a company will use can be very different.Don’t: Try to predict a market price for carbon.Do: Focus on goals and impact.A good starting point is a science-based GHG reduction target, which means setting an emissions reduction goal in line with what the science says is necessary to limit global warming to 2 degrees C and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Companies like Novartis and BT are using carbon pricing as a tool to help achieve such targets.Don’t: Try to solve all the challenges up front with a complex carbon pricing program.Do: Find a simple, strategic starting point.Companies that have had success with carbon pricing are learning by doing. Even those that have been pricing carbon for more than 10 years are actively updating their approach. Many companies are starting by linking carbon pricing with strategic growth priorities, like low-carbon products and services, as Royal DSM, Braskem and SUEZ environnement are doing.Don’t: Assume you need to follow existing carbon pricing models.Do: Leave room for innovation and creativity.Consider novel approaches that create and align incentives. Companies are exploring creative options, such as taxing marketing budgets to fund research and development pipelines or integrating a carbon price into annual revenue targets.Most importantly, do find ways to share your experience. Some insights and learning may be sources of competitive advantages, but many companies are sharing their experiences in the new Executive Guide and in UN Global Compact’s Business & Investors working group. They are also sharing insights with governments, for example as part of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.The more shared learning, the greater the chances are that those hundreds of companies pricing carbon can do so with positive impacts for the climate and their bottom lines.Have a creative approach to carbon pricing? Confronting a challenging obstacle to carbon pricing? Want to connect with other companies who are pricing carbon? Email [email protected] and join the conversation on Twitter (#PriceOnCarbon) to share your story, ideas or questions. There has never been a better time to ask: what are you doing to price carbon?Hundreds of companies are now pricing carbon, and hundreds more expect to in the next couple years. An internal price on carbon is emerging as a useful tool for integrating climate change considerations—specifically the value of reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs)—in business decisions.A new Executive Guide to Carbon Pricing Leadership looks closer at how companies are doing this, drawing insights from dozens of business leaders. WRI worked with Duke University and UN Global Compact to interview, survey and consult members of the Business & Investor Working Group on Carbon Pricing and many others. The research showed that carbon pricing can look very different depending on the type of company, context and objectives.Companies that informed the new Executive Guide highlighted several pitfalls to avoid and successes to build on as other companies design their own carbon pricing programs: