08 Mar 5 Tips to Start Your Business (Without Going Crazy, Getting Money Pangs or Feeling like a Failure)
You’ve finally found your calling.
It feels right in the gut.
You feel ready to kick-start your own dream business.
What is the first step? How do you get moving?
Does it start by quitting your job? Then how does the money come in?
Can your business churn enough to foot your bills AND sustain your lifestyle? What if it doesn’t?
Several thoughts flood your head. What if I fail? Damn – this can’t happen.
But guess what, it needn’t be.
Starting out on your own can be a lot less overwhelming.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind before you start. They will cut through the haze of anxiety to give clarity on how to start your business.
Let’s get started
1. Stop thinking, start doing
Remember the thing about baby steps?
Starting small is a time-tested technique.
Once you know what you want to do, start doing a wee bit of it every day.
If you want to write, start pelting out 2000 words every day. To polish your recipes to start a food business, start with cooking something twice a week.
You never know when the baby grows big enough to walk on its own.
Plus the satisfaction that comes with doing something for your dream every day, does wonders for your confidence.
As a business owner, you will have to learn a lot of new things on your journey – cracking numbers or speaking to all sorts of people. Starting with something you’re comfortable with, will set you up for doing that which you’re not comfortable with.
When Walt Disney said “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing,” this is what he must’ve meant.
2. Put your idea through some tough testing
Limit your costs and test whether your idea can become a business.
Say you want to start a vegan food café. Start by cooking from home.
Call friends (and their friends) over for trials and get feedback.
Next up – you could put up a pop-up shop at a weekend flea market and get new people to try and buy your delicious new food product.
Who knows you may be inspired to try out more innovative recipes? Or figure a new spin to your idea. Because you feel something else may work better.
All in all, your idea will start to crystallise. You will be clearer about how you want to build your business.
On the other hand, don’t be surprised if you realise this is not your dream project. That’s the thing about testing. You can expect the unexpected.
It’s a good practice to test your idea before going the whole hog.
Starting small and testing your idea will give you:
- An idea of whether you like doing this work and what it demands of you
For example, you may feel that running a café is physically demanding and drains you. Or you may feel that cooking and feeding people energises you.
- Clarity on whether people like your offering, and cues to improve it
- Deeper understanding of your ideal customer and how you can serve them
- A hint of whether this idea allows you to make money
- An indication of what you can charge
- Perspective on how you could scale up your idea and take it to more people
- Indication of the skills you need to upgrade
- Most importantly, it will help you validate your idea.
3. Get clear about what you need to invest
With the trial over, ask yourself “How much time and money does your new business demand?”
To start a café, you’d need to invest in equipment, ingredients and space. To be a health coach, web developer, graphic designer, or writer, you just need a computer and an internet connection. You can work from home, a co-working space or a café.
Investment may also mean people. Are you working solo or with a business partner? Do you need to identify other talents to collaborate with or figure backend support?
What are the hours you need to set aside – even if you’re starting small?
Figure your numbers:
How much money do you need every month? How much do your mortgage, kids’ education, insurance and other expenses come to?
Do a simple math.
How much money do you need in the first year of business? How long will your business take to become cash positive? How much do you need to invest back into the business? Work out your numbers – ask around, research.
Then figure how much money you have. Check your own funds. Or figure if your family and friends will put in funds? Would you take a bank loan?
Figure how much can you bootstrap.
Look for other innovative ways you can work with limited budgets.
Or could someone invest in your idea? Typically early stage ideas are self-funded. Once you’re able to do some work and show proof that your idea is business-worthy, you could look for an investor.
4. Know your pace and work with that
Once you’ve got the clarity and figured the investment, it’s time to roll.
Would you rather go fast and launch your idea in 3 months? Or would you rather go slow? Both work.
You can build your business from the ground up – nice and slow with your own money.
Or maybe you want to get there faster. You’ve already found two other business partners to take the idea forward. You like to work with a sense of urgency and would be happy to get an investor soon to help shape the idea.
Choose that pace that works best for you.
5. Get that bridge job (better still, don’t leave the one you have)
I’m a huge advocate of bridge jobs.
A bridge job or a part time job helps pay your bills. It keeps you at peace as you build your new business.
So if you already have a full-time job that pays well and gives you the time to build your new business on the side, hang on to it, by all means.
Of course, there will be hiccups and cold feet. There’s no escaping that. But if this is the work you’re meant to do, then you will find it in you to move beyond obstacles, and make things work for you.
Start before you’re ready.
Starting out on your own may not be as overwhelming as you think.
Take small steps and test your idea. Improve your offering.
Do your numbers and keep that bridge job.
And, before you know, you would’ve taken the plunge.
Still anxious? I’m happy to help you. Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started.
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