Chapter 8: Is it Time?
I've always wanted to (fill in the blank). There's no question about it, we've all said it, thought it, dreamt it. We come up with these goals, lifestyle changes, passion projects, that just sit in the back of our minds. You know the one, probably because it's surfacing right now. And following this grand idea, is a shred of doubt that has now snowballed into a wall, blocking out all the sun from your little seedling dreams.
Now I'm a firm believer in "you can do anything you set your mind to." Yes I know this is cliche, but realistically WHY NOT. "Why not Amber? Well, I can give you a million reasons! I'm making mortgage payments every month, and I need time for my family, and I wouldn't even know where to start!" The list goes on. So how do you know when it's the RIGHT time to start your business? Well, if you've already started thinking about it, guess what... you've already begun!
There's no question, starting a business takes up a large portion of your time, money, energy, sanity (haha..), need I go on? BUT what's worse, becoming a crazy ball of stress at 23 (not to name anyone in particular) or looking back on your life 20 years from now and quoting the classic "I've always wanted too..?" So what do you need to consider in order to get your butt into gear?
1. Brainstorm Yourself Silly
There's no question about it... some ideas are just not that great. But, even bad ideas can be made into good ones. If you have a business concept in mind, then you've already started brainstorming! Now, it's time to make your hypothetical dreams into realistic ones. In this stage, it's important to be your own best worst critic. Start by creating a business concept, and then pick it apart flaw by flaw. And with each hole in your business idea, find a solution. Rework your concept until you can back it up 100%.
With a concept in mind, you should be able to build a rough business plan, adding more structure and relevance to your idea. And with a business plan, you will find more flaws, and with flaws - more solutions! Sample business plans are available online as well as at your local library (if anything they will be able to point you in the right direction for sources, mentors, etc). This leads me to my next point - mentors! Once you've picked your business plan apart the best you can, get fresh eyes! Find a local business owner, financial advisor, successful business person, etc and let them find MANY more holes in your plan. This is a GOOD thing! There is no question that someone else will see errors that you won't, and it's much better to sort those errors sooner rather than later!
One of the things I love about business, is that it's ever growing. This leaves you with endless possibilities for growth. It also means, that you'll have to find a cement supplier, because you're always going to be looking to fill those damn holes. Never stop brainstorming!
2. Get Your Finances in Order
Alright, I won't give you small business survival rates, because I don't want to scare you back into a pit of darkness. BUT it's important to understand that starting a business takes A LOT of HARD work! And I understand that it doesn't always fit everyone's individual lifestyle goals. That's another key point. ANYONE can do it, but not everyone wants to. Especially once you realize the major commitment that's involved. Either way, you need to have your finances in order to the best of your ability. Personally, I worked in the restaurant service industry for 2 years in order to give myself a cushion. I moved back into my childhood home, and lived on a lovely little budget. I found hobbies that didn't cost much (like blogging), and did my best to treat myself mindfully. I began working with a financial advisor, in order to organize my finances, invest, and start planning long term. Part of your business plan will fall into this category. You'll need to be sure (to the best of your ability) that you can not only support yourself, but your business as well. And depending on your business plan, you may want to look into bursaries, grants, investors, etc. Businesses have start up costs, as well as a lull period where you're potentially taking a broad pay cut. Keep these things in mind when planning. Starting a business has many stresses, so do your best to create some piece of mind financially.
3. Spend Some Time On YOU!
Ask yourself this: what kind of life can your business give you? Owning a business should be about creating a life that works for you - literally and figuratively. If you create a business plan with the intention of working 50 some odd hours a week every week until you're 65, well that doesn't sound overly enjoyable, no matter what your business is. My recommendation is to take some time for yourself before starting a business. Get in tune with your values, imagine your ideal lifestyle, and most importantly - build yourself up. Starting a business can become taxing in so many ways - physically, mentally, and emotionally. There will be skeptics, critics, and those who doubt you and your business' potential. If I can offer some words of wisdom - Don't be one of them! There's a difference between critiquing yourself and discouraging yourself. It's easy to get caught up in negative opinions, but there is nothing more detrimental to your self worth or your potential business for that matter. Because realistically, they are VERY closely linked. Your business can become anything you wish. And it can change any time you wish. So build a plan that fits your wants and needs, and work on yourself so that you can bring those plans to life!