Stop Planning. Start Doing.
I speak to a lot of people who want to start their own business. I speak to lots of people who don’t start their own business. There is only one difference between people who want to and people who have their own business. The ones who have their own business actually DID it. I know. I spent six years “planning” my business. I bought every book. I thought I hadn’t put together enough money. I didn’t know how to do all the things that I needed to know how to do. I didn’t have enough contacts. I didn’t have enough customers/clients. Duh. I didn’t have a business. Why would there be clients/customers WITHOUT a business? You just have to step out if faith. I”m not saying do it with NO planning. You have to think out your opportunities. You have to think out how you’re going to eat. And then you need to do it.
I can relate to not moving on it. Was I more prepared after six years? Yes. I was not six years-worth more prepared, though. So much of the learning that happens when you start your business happens when the rubber meets the road and you actually have to make it work. There is nothing that does that except actually doing the work.
Do It Before You Leave Your ‘Real’ Job
What I didn’t do, which I should have, was start my business while I was still working my 9 to 5 job. It really didn’t occur to me at the time, but I now know that this is a great solution to cushion the risk and to accelerate the learning while you still have an income. With the current state of the economy and the likelihood that you will lose your job at some point in your work life, this approach of having an income on the side that you can ramp up if something happens makes a lot of sense. There are a couple of new books that are great guides on how to do this.
Some Books That Might Help.
- The Economy of You by Kimberly Palmer. This book has lots of stories about people who actually DID it. They started small and built their business while still employed. The book describes when the business owners cut the cord and relied on their business for their income. It is a great read and is quite motivational. You don’t have to wait for perfection–step out and see what happens.
- How to Work for Yourself by Bryan Cohen. This is a book that addresses all the excuses you have about “no time.” (That was what you were thinking when you started reading this post, right?) Again, Cohen is quite motivational. As I read the book I started noticing all the ways that I waste time. (As I write this, this book is $0.00 on Kindle–that won’t last long–grab it!!!)
A slightly older, but more comprehensive book:
So . . . I’ve provided you some books to read if you want to put it off a little longer. I’ve provided you books that can motivate you and challenge you if you REALLY want to do this. Which ever–read these books. Make this the year you DO it.
It’s Time to Put Up or Shut Up
So you want to start a business. Someday. Someday will come and go and where will your business be? What are you waiting on? You want to get everything set up first? You want to do the business plan first? You want to analyze the potential market first? You want to find money first? You want to come up with the killer idea first?
Let’s Start At The Beginning
Why do you want to start your own business? That’s the first question to answer. The answer to this question can actually help you figure out what kind of business.
- Do you want to work for yourself? Get rid of bosses? Feel an accomplishment that you built something? Control your destiny?
- Do you want a work/life balance? Be careful about this one. Most small business owners work an awful lot—many more than their corporate employee colleagues.
- Do you want to get rich?
- Do you like the risk/reward of starting and running a business?
- Do you want to work people of your choice—and not A$$ho@$?
- Are you stalled out at your current organization?
- Do you want to create a business out of something you are passionate about?
- Do you think you can do it better?
Next Step—What Business do You Want To Start?
Do you have a plan or idea that you’ve been storing in the back of your mind for a long time? Does it make it to your New Year’s Resolution list or you Life Goal list on a regular basis? If you have such a plan/idea, look back at your answer to “Why Do You Want to Start Your Own Business?” above. Does your plan/idea serve that reason? For example, if you want to start a restaurant but your reason for starting your own business is work/life balance, then the back of your brain probably knows that those two don’t go together. If you want/need security, than, again, you probably know that deep down inside and aren’t really willing to put that at risk by really starting your own business.
If your idea for a business is perfectly suited to your reason for wanting to do this, then there is some other reason that it hasn’t happened yet. Some possibilities:
- Analysis paralysis. This was mine. I wanted to think out every possible ramification and pre-plan for each eventuality. I bought and read every book I could get my hands on. I went to seminars, talked to experts and still didn’t move forward. The key issue here is that you can never be ready enough before you start because some of the most important things that make you ready to run and succeed at your business are the experiences you have in running your business. Even if you’ve run several businesses before, you will not be able to pre-plan all the things that can happen.
- Fear of failure. I guess it would be nice to be able to out plan failure. It just isn’t realistic, though. Depending on how you define failure: not meeting expectations, not making enough money, not finding your market, not having enough cash flow, not growing as fast as expected, growing faster than expected (OK, maybe that one isn’t failure), going bankrupt–most start-ups fail. You make adjustments, you try again, you try something else. Fearing failure is a lot like a four year old fearing growing taller. It is a necessary part of the process.
- Lack of time. This may be the reality, but if you don’t make the time, then it won’t happen. You CAN make time to do what is important. Steven Covey taught us to do what was important. To begin with the end in mind. What does you business look like in your future? What does it provide you? Money? Joy? Autonomy? Isn’t it as important as the other things that you are doing? Carve out one task a day or one task a week to work on. After a couple of months, you will have made progress and you will be on your way. Once your business starts to become REAL in your eyes, then it will be easier to put it at the head of the line, or at least in the line, of what you’re working on.
- Not enough money. Build a sufficient business plan to persuade someone to help with the money. Ask friends, family, skilled colleagues who could help. Figure it out.
There is a great gook about this, Just Start by Leonard A. Schlesinger and Charles F. Kiefer. Take the risk. Learn from it. Move closer to your dream.