There are many ways you can do it, of course. Much will depend on your personality – are you one who calculates risk thoroughly and then waits for the ‘perfect’ opportunity, or are you at the other end of the spectrum, with a ‘go for it’ mindset, planning to fix the holes along the way?
I’ve appreciated learning more about risk planning and strategy, but I’ll admit up front I’ve been an unapologetic ‘do it now’ risk taker and have loved each adventure. And I flatly refuse to spend large portions of my life doing things I don’t like. I have a strong need to create things that are genuinely useful and that bring a satisfied grin to my client’s faces. However, there have been parts of those adventures where, with better planning, I could have been kinder to myself. In the spirit of striking a happy medium, I’d like to share some of the principles that serve me well now.
There are 7 things I believe are necessary to help you do it right. At each point, remember that it is indeed all about you. If you’re not finding satisfaction in this gig, you’re going to be grumpy or get sloppy with your systems or watch way too much TV and then have to spend your time at the gym instead of working on your business and contributing your unique blend of excellence to the world. Enough of the lecture …
1. What’s the starting point?
Map out your personal situation – consider the time you can find in your day, how you currently pay your bills and whether you have anything to put into starting and growing your business. Of course your initial reaction might be ‘I’m busy and I’m broke’ but once you’ve indulged in that, tell yourself to zip it and take a real look at things. You will find pockets of time. You will find cheap and/or free resources you can start with. You’ll find ways to barter with others who are getting started. You’ll find ways to trim your current spending (both time and dollars).
Do you have an urgency to create income from your passion? I’ve been in that position; it’s a very effective kick in the right direction. It might be the thing that gives you permission to finally do that ‘thing’ you’ve wanted to for so long. If so, list the essential costs you must cover and when they need to be met. That’s your first financial goal. Easy, huh?
If you’d gainfully employed and want to begin in a more responsible manner, set yourself financial goals anyway. We say money isn’t everything, but bringing in the dollars is a buzz that will encourage you to grow this thing. Now, if you have had a business idea that you got all excited about and then put on the shelf because life got in the way, get this free resource from the lovely team at Imagination Possible. In just 15 minutes per day you’ll conquer your creative kryptonite and Get. Things. Done.
2. Is there a demand?
Actually, with the right story behind what you do, I think there’s a demand for pretty much everything.
Thomas Edison said it best: ‘To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.’
It’s kind of sensible to measure the size of that demand, though, and see whether you can see a way to have that support what you need to be in a good financial position. You are very welcome to contact me via Skype if you’d like a free 1:1 call for 30 minutes to throw ideas around and see how to craft your story. One of the big things I learned when working with Dr Sarah Farrant was ‘facts tell, story sells.’ People buy an idea; if you can tell the story of your ‘thing’, you’re on your way to connecting with the people who need what you do.
3. Even impatient-to-get-going me loves Business Plans. Learn to love them, too.
Forget every impression you have regarding Business Plans. Instead, craft your story, plan where you’d like to go, list how you’re going to measure each goal and write a shopping list of the things you need to get there. You just wrote a Business Plan. This will become a close companion. You can turn to it when things are tricky for a reminder about what to do next, and you can wave it in the air and celebrate when you hit each goal. Two things there: keep a copy online for quick edits and a hard copy so you have something to wave in the air. Computers don’t like being thrown about.
4. Be ready for the plot twist. And don’t twist your ankle when you swerve.
You’ve got to be agile in business. As my man says, ‘Make plans with room for change.’
Keep up to date with developments in your field, in the marketplace, and in the systems you use. Then there’s the part about getting good with a system and thinking of ways to do it better. So learn to jump easily and land lightly. You know, like a cat.
5. Get some sleep.
I read Arianna Huffington’s ‘Thrive’ as soon as it came out and was so grateful. ‘Cos I really like my sleep.
The tricky part is, once you start doing something you love and it actually starts to pay your bills and you can see room to grow the thing, sleep can turn into the tooth fairy – you kind of wish it was still there when you wake up. If you find yourself so buzzed that you’re lying in your bed for three hours playing games with words starting with the letter ‘r’ and still awake, for sleep’s sake learn some meditation techniques. You really need to get whatever sleep you need to run your business well.
That also goes for getting a life. Once you start doing the thing you love, you might find it’s all you want to do. It’s really important to go out and squint in the sunshine for a while every day. Whatever works for you, add it to your official schedule and get doing it. You’ll come back inspired with a load of new ideas for your business, of course, but that’s another challenge 🙂
6. Systems are a beautiful thing.
I’ll keep this simple. Systems that work well for me are:
- Asana + Trello, depending on my clients’ preference
- RecurPost + MeetEdgar, depending on my clients’ preference
- My A4, day-to-a-page diary to scribble notes on (old fashioned, I know, but essential for me)
- Facebook Messenger, Skype and Zoom for communicating with clients + team members
- Simple Excel sheets for financials + my excellent bookkeeper (I can get away with this as a solo gig. You might prefer the fabulous features of Xero)
- Regular billing cycles
PS – if you have a system that is brilliant for what you do, I’d love you to let me know!
7. Revise and scale to suit you. Because you must remember it IS all about you.
Remember that Business Plan? When you’re starting out, spend time with it every week. Two reasons: it’ll keep you disciplined and you’ll have fresh ideas to add to/refine it. After the first couple of months, you might want to schedule a business meeting with yourself every four weeks.
Revise your systems and implement new ones as you scale.
At every point, keep the focus of setting your business up so that you can work ON it rather than IN it. You started this because you are passionate about something. You must do everything you can to protect your time with that. With the tools + well-priced outsourcing available now, there’s no reason at all for you to get bogged down in things you don’t enjoy.
Starting June 26 (‘cos that’s my mum’s birthday and she’s quite the inspiration) I’m opening limited places for an affordable, completely practical and personalised 4-week course to take you from ‘I wish’ to ‘I am’. Because I know what it’s like to start from scratch and get things real asap, I’m keeping the price insanely low and taking 10 people only. You can stay up to date with that by getting on the wait list. And if you do, get in touch and let me know what passion you’ll be turning into a profitable business. Here’s to your success!