Can I possibly create a business based on things I already know?

posted by Russ, September 4 in lifestyle design with tags , , , ,

1 comment so far

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about this topic lately, and about how ordinary people are learning to monetize their existing skills, and ultimately employ themselves. Is it really possible? And do I have any skill or knowledge that people would pay for?

Often I’ll find myself browsing random job postings or gigs on Craigslist for non-traditional types of employment, and I’ll look and think, wow, I wish I had the skills they are looking for, then I could hire myself out rather than work for someone. (By non-traditional I really mean any jobs that won’t require me to sit and get paid for my time rather than my work, like most jobs in my field do)

My goal has been always to be self employed, but my major stumbling block is that I don’t feel like I am an expert at any one thing or skilled enough to get paid the big bucks. I feel like I know enough to do my job and my hobbies well, but not enough to consider myself an expert. But as I mentioned, I keep reading more about success stories of people monetizing the current skill(s). Rather than going to school or getting trained in some new field that they may have been curious about, they are simply using what they already know and are learning how to simply make money doing that.

So this has gotten my wheels turning a bit. For one, I have been a software engineer for the past 8 years, and three of them have been with a small company where I am doing much more than software (web, database). But still I feel like I don’t know enough to try to market myself in this field. However, I will admit that this could simply be a confidence issue rather than a skill issue, because in talking to other people it seems that plenty of people who employ themselves don’t know everything prior to doing a job for someone. The difference is that they pretend that they know everything and then learn on the fly.

Here are a few other things that I could possibly market or monetize:

  • I have in one form or another been hosting and running my own (and family member’s) websites for the past 5 years. This includes setting up the hosting, doing all the coding, the design, fixing browser compatibility issues, setting up blogs, and wading through more HTML and CSS code than normal people care to look at. I don’t consider myself a web designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure the skills I do have could come in handy for some people.
  • I can usually find the answer to any question on any topic in a matter of minutes using the handy dandy internet. To me I consider this normal, but have realized that the majority of people who aren’t computer geeks can’t do this. They get caught on spam pages, with non credible data, or it takes them forever. I think I first realized how good at this I was when my girlfriend saw me find something so fast. She couldn’t believe it. Now she calls or texts me when she needs an answer, and I can usually find it while we’re still on the phone. Trivial, I know, but I’m sure this is a skill some people wish they had. I guess maybe I am an expert at using the internets.
  • I read way too many books, magazines, blogs, and other articles and now have acquired a vast array of knowledge on a wide variety of topics.

Moving away from the geeky stuff now…

  • I have had people tell me I am extremely knowledgeable about trails and hiking spots near where I live. I have been to and seen a ton (but not nearly all) of the things to do and see in San Diego, and apparently have ticked more things off the San Diego “to do” list than people I know that are natives here have. I know most of the neighborhoods and can point things out on a local map that people who grew up here have never heard of.
  • Last summer, I managed to take my average body, casual runner’s legs, and an endurance that was better for happy hour than an hour long hike, and I hauled it to the top of Mt Whitney, in one day… That includes the full 22 miles and 6000+ feet of elevation gain.

I am not putting all this up here to brag, trust me. But I am trying to convince myself that I have at least some set of skills that is marketable and can make me a living. Looking at things in this light is new for me, almost revelational. All of a sudden I am seeing that — dare I say it? — I just might be an expert at something.

Now I just need to hone in on what that is. And determine if there is any way to take the scope of different things I know and could be considered expert on, and connect them in a way to create something of value for someone else. And hopefully something that they would be willing to pay for.

Originally posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009 at 5:57 AM .

One Response to “Can I possibly create a business based on things I already know?”

  1. This really answered my problem, thank you!

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