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How to Become an Entrepreneur Without an Idea (2023)

Want to know if YOU have what it takes to become an entrepreneur?

I’ve helped 1000s of students start their own businesses. Many of them have gone on to quit their 9-5 and make a full-time income from their businesses.

Today, I share those strategies with you. With them, you learn how to build a profitable business as fast as possible. The results you can get include results like this:

Coaching result

Want to learn how to build your own business? Read on! 

Chapter 1: What is entrepreneurship? 
Chapter 2: How to choose a business model
Chapter 3: How to build your business in two steps
Chapter 4: The best way to grow a profitable business
Chapter 5: How to go full-time with your business and continue growing it

Chapter 1: What is entrepreneurship?

Let’s take it from the start: What entrepreneurship is.

As an entrepreneur, you run your own company. You’re in charge and can grow your business as much as you want. But entrepreneurship also comes with its own challenges.

Here’s what you need to know about what it means to become an entrepreneur. 

The benefits of entrepreneurship

You might want to become an entrepreneur because of the many perks it offers. You’re not alone.

According to Freelancers Union, 57 million Americans do some type of freelancing work (this includes coaching and consulting). 

Here’s the thing:

As an entrepreneur, you get to work on things that can have a huge impact on people’s lives and feel more fulfilled in your work.

Working for yourself means more flexibility because you choose what your workday looks like. You decide if you go on a vacation next month or take the afternoon off. 

Not only that, but you’re also challenged every day. You see, starting a business means that you step out on a personal development journey you probably wouldn’t otherwise. 

After all, as an entrepreneur, you need to shift a lot of your thinking and overcome mental blocks and barriers to be able to earn more and grow your business.

For example, here’s why these successful entrepreneurs started their businesses:

Jessica Mehring

“In a nutshell, I wanted more control over my life — where I worked, what projects I worked on, and how those projects were delivered. The longer answer is that corporate life was no longer working for me. I was told what projects to complete and how to complete them, but I’d been a copywriter for so long, I knew what they were asking wouldn’t get them the results they were after.

It broke my heart, because I believed in what that enterprise technology company was doing in the world. I knew I could do better for them, but I couldn’t do that as an employee. That realization came at a pivotal time, too. I had worked at home for that enterprise technology company for 7 years, I was pregnant, and there was a corporate mandate that all remote employees were to be moved into onsite offices. I couldn’t imagine spending my days working in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, producing work I didn’t believe in, an hour away from my family.

Becoming an entrepreneur seemed less risky than that!”

Jessica Mehring, Conversion Content Writer, Horizon Peak Consulting

Maya Elious

“Although I fell into entrepreneurship unintentionally, I remained an entrepreneur because I liked knowing that my creative ideas made a difference in someone’s life and business.”

Maya Elious, Brand Strategist,

What it takes to become an entrepreneur

At the same time, this personal development journey does come with its own challenges. You need to learn how to build your confidence and be OK with rejection. 

I’ve seen this first-hand. When I first started my business, my parents didn’t believe in me, which took a huge toll on my self-confidence.

I didn’t feel comfortable promoting myself (it felt so salesy!).

Plus, I didn’t know any entrepreneurs in real life, so I didn’t even understand what a business could look like.

Luisa Zhou talk Gary V live
Today I speak on stages with people like Gary V. It wasn’t always so- being an entrepreneur means rejections, “failures,” and getting outside of your comfort zone.

Those are all things that I learned along the way. And you can, too.

What it takes is that you decide today that you want to start a business and eventually leave your 9-5.

Then you start figuring it out, bit by bit.

How to go from a 9-5 to entrepreneurship

So how do you take the plunge and go from your 9-5 and start a full-time business? 

When I decided to become an entrepreneur, I had a great job with a six-figure salary and I managed a team of seven people.

I had everything I (and my parents) had ever dreamt of.

The managerial position, a great career, money in the bank, a high-rise condo apartment in New York… 

Image of New York
I had everything I had ever wanted. But I had a nagging feeling… I didn’t feel fulfilled.

At the same time, I felt unfulfilled. And when I looked at people who were a few steps ahead of me, like our company’s vice president, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to end up there.”

That’s when the thought of starting my own business started to take root. I figured, “What have I got to lose?” If my business didn’t pan out, so what? I wouldn’t be looking back many years from now thinking, “If only I had started that business all those years ago.”

While it might feel scary to start a business and take on the financial insecurity that comes with it, there’s one important thing to remember:

You don’t need (and probably shouldn’t) quit your job before you’ve built up a great income in your business.

For example, I started my business when I was still in my 9-5. When I quit my job a few months later, I had already made over $100,000 in my business.

Coaching business income

And I always recommend my clients to keep their business as a side business until they’ve exceeded a certain threshold. (My recommendation? Double your monthly salary). 

Why? Because this way, you can prepare for expenses like taxes and avoid any financial stress or feeling like you don’t know how much money you’ll be making next month. 

Now you know what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Excited to start building your own business? That’s what we’ll look at next.

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Chapter 2: How to choose a business model

Before anything else, you need to decide on the type of business that you want to build. You see, there are different business models and they all come with their pros and cons.

You can start a secure business that lets you quit your job and make a great income. Or a risky and world-altering startup with venture capital money. Here’s what you need to know about both business models.

Building a startup

Years before I built my coaching business, I dabbled in entrepreneurship. One of my ventures was a payment app with a multimillion-dollar valuation.

These startups, like the Facebooks and Ubers of the world, are built to scale fast. They are incredibly risky and require a lot of venture capital money. It takes years to build these companies and while only the most successful businesses make headlines in the news, most startup founders work for years on ideas without anything to show for it.

Now, while a huge business with hundreds or even thousands of employees might look successful on the outside, it isn’t always so. Not all of those businesses that succeed are very profitable. Just look at companies like Uber, which despite being a multi-billion dollar business hasn’t turned a profit yet. It takes more than VC money to build a profitable business.

startup business model table

Thanks to having worked on my own startup, I knew this wasn’t the road I wanted to take because of the risk and uncertainty. 

Instead, I wanted to quit my job as fast as possible, while making good money and doing something that mattered in people’s lives. And that leads us to the next business model…

A profitable business model that will help you quit your job

If your goal is to quit your job and make a good income, a better alternative is to work on a business model that can turn a profit quickly and that you can build on the side, while you’re still working a 9-5.

When I started my business, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. And the first thing I realized was that the fastest way to make this happen would be to start an online business.

Why? Because online businesses can grow big, while you keep a great profit margin.

Online business model table

And what I came to realize after having tried out a few online businesses is that selling a skill as a coach, consultant, or a freelancer is the best way to grow a sustainable business fast. A skill is wildly more profitable than selling something like an ecommerce product. 

A service-based business model means that you don’t need to find thousands of customers to make a good income. Instead, you work with a few, select clients. That’s because you can price your services (especially coaching and consulting) much higher than most physical products. 

For example:

With a coaching package that is priced at $2,000, you would only need 5 clients to get to $10,000. With a $50 product, getting to that same result would require you to find 200 customers.

See the difference?

Replacing your salary will be much faster with a coaching business.

coaching vs ecommerce pricing table

And that’s before we look at the other costs that come with an ecommerce business. Inventory, shipping, customer service… You’ll have to sell plenty of products to be able to quit your job. Plus, you’ll need a much bigger team to build your business compared to a coaching business, which requires one person: Yourself.

The same applies to other types of online businesses. Affiliate businesses (where you get a commission on every product you sell) or a blogging business might be profitable. But they take years to build.

While you need one coaching client to make $1,500, you’ll need to sell eight affiliate offers at $200 to reach the same income. You’ll need to build up your website traffic and grow your email list. These are tasks which can take months or even years. 

Now you know why a service business is the fastest way to become an entrepreneur. But how do you turn that into a profitable business? That’s what we’ll look at next.

Chapter 3: How to build your business in two steps 

What are the steps you need to take to become an entrepreneur once you’ve decided on your business model? It all comes down to finding a profitable idea and knowing your market so that you can build your business fast. Let’s find out how to do just that.

How to find your profitable and enjoyable business idea

Not sure what business idea to work on? I used to feel the same way.

I was eager to build my business so that I could finally quit my job. But because I was so eager to quit, I made the mistake of trying to take shortcuts and choosing the “easiest” thing. Spoiler: It never works. Here’s what I did…

Excel consulting

When I first started building my own online business, I looked around for the fastest way to get started. I had seen all these Microsoft Excel experts selling Excel coaching. Because I used Excel so much in my day job, I thought, “Why not me?” Why couldn’t I do the same and sell Excel coaching for good money? 

Said and one, I started offering my services. The result? I failed miserably. I hadn’t done the one thing that will make or break a business: Because I had tried to take the fastest way out of my job, I hadn’t taken the time to understand my audience. I was expecting immediate success, which almost never happens, so by default, I had started working on a dead-end business.

Excel consulting example
I thought Excel consulting would be easy. Not exactly…

I didn’t sell a single Excel coaching package because of this. But I wasn’t discouraged. Instead, I tried the next thing: Resume formatting.

Resume formatting on Elance (Upwork)

When I realized that my Excel coaching wasn’t going to be the next million-dollar business, I looked around for more ideas. And I quickly realized that on sites like Elance (today Upwork) people were looking for skills that I could offer them.

One sought-after skill on the site was resume formatting. People frequently asked me for career advice, so I saw my opportunity. I would start formatting people’s resumes and quickly make bank!

Upwork screenshot
I thought I would make a quick buck by formatting people’s resumes. It wasn’t worth it.

Of course, I didn’t get far. I soon realized that most projects were priced at around $50. The work took closer to three hours, plus I had to keep on pitching to find new projects. In the end, my stint at Elance wasn’t very profitable so I decided to continue looking for a better business idea. 

Career coaching

That’s when I realized that I could offer career coaching. I had all these friends asking me for job advice, so why not package it as a private coaching offer? 

This was the business idea that finally made good money. But I soon realized something else… I didn’t want to do it long-term. Giving people career advice didn’t feel exciting. After all, I wanted to get out of my job. I knew that the people I was helping would want to start their own businesses in a few years. 

Facebook advertising coaching

At this point, I felt as if I had tried almost everything. But by a stroke of luck, I found that one thing that would lead me to build the business I have today.

At the time, I was working with a copywriter, who helped me write copy for my career coaching business. When I asked her how she got clients, she replied: “Facebook groups.”

Intrigued, I decided to check out these groups. And to my surprise, I realized that there were tons of entrepreneurs asking for help on how to set up and manage their Facebook ads.

Facebook ads were something I was working with every day in my day job. So I started helping people out and giving advice in the groups I was a part of.

Soon enough, people were asking how they could work with me. And within four months, I had built a 6+-figure coaching business. I was finally able to quit my job and build my business full-time.

How to find YOUR idea

As you can see, finding the right idea can take a bit of trial and error. But the thing is: YOU have a skill you can sell.

It all comes down to figuring out what people want to and can pay for, what you can offer, and what you enjoy doing.

Your business idea diagram

To find your idea, look at what you’re already doing in your day job or in your free time. After all, your boss is already paying you for doing your job. You can bet that there are other people willing to do the same!

Here’s a quick video I put together on how to find your idea:

And here’s how some of my clients have found their business ideas (and many have gone on to build 6- or 7-figure businesses):

  • One of my clients had built a successful career with several managerial positions. Today, she helps people do the same as a career coach.
  • A client had helped people with their relationships in jobs at companies like eHarmony. She became a 6-figure relationship coach.
  • My client has worked for years with big retail companies like Forever21. Today, she is a retail store consultant
  • Another client had helped family members and himself get healthier with the help of herbs. He is now a health coach who helps people lose weight with herbs.
  • My client is a Harvard graduate who now helps high school students get accepted into Ivy League schools as a college consultant. 

Want even more ideas? Take a look at this post with 121 service business ideas.

Get to know your market 

Once you have an idea, you need to get to know your market. The biggest mistake I see new entrepreneurs make is to rush into launching a new business without taking this step first. 

Remember how my Excel coaching business failed? It was because I hadn’t taken the time to understand my market. With my Facebook ads coaching business, I intimately knew what people wanted and why. And that’s why I was able to sell more than six figures worth of coaching in just a few months. 

Understanding your market doesn’t have to be difficult. Already by monitoring and adding value to discussions happening in Facebook groups or on other social media platforms, you’ve taken the first step to understanding your audience. 

Profitable business diagram

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Chapter 4: The best way to grow a profitable business

What does it take to grow a profitable business as an entrepreneur? Not everything comes down to your business model and idea. Instead (and this is something most people don’t talk about), much of your success builds on your mindset and how well you take the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Here’s what you need to know.

The qualities you need to become a successful entrepreneur

The first thing to realize is that entrepreneurship is a skill. It’s not something you’re born with.

For example, I didn’t know any entrepreneurs growing up or when I started my own business. I never even thought entrepreneurship would be something for me. 

My parents weren’t my biggest supporters, either. When I got my first client, I excitedly told them about my huge win. Instead of congratulating me, they skeptically said, “Luisa, how did you manage to scam them?” 

And when I called my mom to tell her I had been able to replace my salary and would go into entrepreneurship full-time, the reply I got was, “I never thought you would be able to do it.”

As a new entrepreneur, you most probably will face rejection and other obstacles. Maybe your family doesn’t support you or people think you’re crazy for wanting something different. Potential clients will turn you down. And your business ideas might not always work out (just like my early ventures didn’t). 

Illustration of what entrepreneurship is

But that’s the thing. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in it for the long run and that might come with a few bumps in the road.

To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to prepare for failure. When you do, it won’t hit you like a ton of bricks. Instead, you’ll be prepared and be able to see past that hiccup. And that’s what you need to build a successful business. 

The one thing that will build your business

Beside mindset, you need the right strategy. Now, many entrepreneurs who start their own businesses think that there’s a “silver bullet” that will build their business. Like a marketing tactic or luck or something else.

The truth is this:

There is no silver bullet. But the thing that is closest to a silver bullet is to build relationships with your clients.

When I started my coaching business, I was constantly giving value in Facebook groups. I would answer questions, talk to people, and offer them my help without expecting anything in return.

Because of the value I gave, people quickly understood that I had the skills to help them. They thought, “Wow, she can give me all of this for free… Wonder what her paid program looks like?”

Now, I didn’t intend to start selling coaching. But by giving value upfront, people basically started saying, “Take my money!” And that’s how I was able to build my business so fast.

Read more about this “Taster Technique” here.

Be strategic about your time

Last, you need to be intentional with your time. As a new entrepreneur with both a job AND a side-business, your time is extremely limited.

To be able to build your business as fast as possible, you need to be working on the RIGHT things. 

That’s why you shouldn’t try to do it all. There are tons of different ways to build and market your business. Blogging, SEO, social media, affiliate marketing, joint ventures, webinars…

marketing methods

But when you’re first starting out, you should be focusing on a few, specific steps that will help you get clients fast. 

The simple formula is this:

Go to where your clients are hanging out and give a lot of value. (Want the step-by-step and templates? You can read more about it here.)

Once you have a healthy income, you can start adding on other marketing methods, like webinars and Facebook ads.

Get clients formula

This was what I did in my business. By doing this, I was able to build my business to more than 6-figures in four months while working a full-time job.

In fact, I had a handful of activities I did every day. I scheduled them all in my calendar so that I would get them done even though I had a busy job to manage.

Business calendar first year

If you commit to your business and start working on those most important things, you will build it much faster than you might think possible. 

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

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When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

Chapter 5: How to go full-time with your business and continue growing it

Once you have achieved your income goal, you’re ready to quit your job. Remember: It doesn’t have to be in the distant future. You CAN do it sooner than you think by working on the right things.

The next step is to start scaling your business. With a service business model (coaching, consulting, or freelancing), this usually means launching an online course. Online courses let you reach more people without having to put in more of your own time while giving your audience a great option to working one-on-one with you. 

How I scaled my business

Once I had transitioned from my 9-5 into running my business full-time, I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands to build my business. I was finally able to start scaling it!

As a result, it grew exponentially. In 11 months, my business had made 7-figures in revenue. But even more importantly, it was a sustainable business. Today, I’ve been in business for over 5 years, have a profitable business and couldn’t be happier I took the leap back when I did. 

However, what I quickly realized when I had just quit my job was that selling private coaching could only get me so far. It’s a great way to get started, but if you want to continue scaling your business, online courses are the way to go.

Once I was booked out with private coaching clients, I took the next logical step and started selling online courses.

And this is the time when you can start adding on new marketing strategies. For example, I first started scaling my business with Facebook ads, Facebook challenges, and webinars.

After an $8,000 launch and a $100,000 launch, I had an $800,000 launch and crossed the 7-figure mark.

Online course first year launches

What it came down to was doubling down on what already worked for me and taking calculated risks. And by continuing on that track, I run a multi 7-figure business today.

Where can you take your business?

Once you have a great income and are scaling your business, there are a lot of things you can do with your business.

What I recommend my clients is this:

Based on the experience you’ve gained when working with your private clients, create a great course that helps your clients succeed. For example, I tweaked my own “flagship course,” Employee to Entrepreneur, many times over the course of a few years. 

When your course is the absolute best course out there, it’s so much easier to win over and continue working with clients who can’t stop raving about you to their friends. 

The best part? You don’t have to work 24/7 on your business. Remember: As an entrepreneur, YOU decide what your day looks like. Building a business does take work, but ultimately, you should build a business that you love working on.

Want to start building your business right away?

There you have it. Now you know how you can become an entrepreneur. The most profitable and fastest way to get started is to start a service business. Once you’ve quit your job and have a profitable coaching business, you can scale your business with online courses.

Over to you:

To become an entrepreneur, what skill are you going to offer as a coach or consultant?

Let me know in the comments below!

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

Want to know how to build a profitable, meaningful business to replace your 9-5?

The proven blueprint for building a profitable online coaching business that frees you from the 9-to-5

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

2 Responses

  1. There are now so many opportunities for entrepreneurs online. It helps to do one that resonates with you so that you can find a market that you like to work with.

  2. This is very Indepth. Thank you so much. I recently left my job and after researching and trying different things (from while I was still at my job), I find this post summarizes what I’ve learned and how I strategized.

    This validates my thoughts and ideas. Thank you so much, again.

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