Thursday, July 26, 2012

3 Tips for Starting Up or Starting Over

    How does someone decide what business they should start?

There's a delicate balance to consider when choosing what to build a business around. First, it must be something you can sustainably put your full energy into, not just a casual interest that will quickly fizzle. However, the flip side is to be cautious if launching a business around your favorite hobby. If you love doing something and then you try to make money at it, it could become the thing that you dread. I'll share a story from my own experience. Many years ago, I loved scrapbooking. I was the one in the family who put all our photos into books. I loved reliving our trips and family memories as I put them in the book. I decided to start a direct sales business teaching the art of scrapbooking and selling supplies. It then became my work. What I used to enjoy turned into a task and I lost the very thing that brought me joy. I haven't created a new book since then.

    What else should people consider when they're starting a new business?

My second tip is to "Have a plan". Starting a business without a good plan can end in your feet slipping out from under you. Michael Gerber, who wrote The e-Myth books, calls this the "entrepreneurial seizure". Starting a business with a great idea and a lot of passion may get you some short-term success, but it may not be sustainable. You have to have a vision of where you want to go, an idea of your business model, or your revenue streams, and a growth plan. Even if that plan evolves and expands over time, you need to have a starting point to build on. A good coach can help you create and stick to your plan. It's important to know if you are creating a job for yourself or building a business.

    Is there anything they can do early on to make things go smoothly as their business grows?

It's a great idea to start documenting processes and keeping good records, early on. I've seen new businesses really take off and before they know it, they're too busy to go back and put systems in place to support the business. That's usually when they come to me to get things out of their head and put them down on paper. If you can do a bit that as you go, you won't have to play catch up 2 or 3 years in. Again, there is a balance. It's good to have some time in, so you get a good feel for your workflow and the processes that work. That makes the documenting go a little easier. At the very least, start keeping good financial books right from the beginning. Especially if you are in the type of business that could be financed. Investors will want to see your history.

Friday, July 13, 2012

3 Ideas for Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Another saying I love that my husband shared with me is just because something feels good doesn't mean it is and just because something feels bad doesn't mean it is. Staying in our usual routine may feel good but it doesn't get us anywhere. I know that if you are reading this you want to grow so here are some things you can go this week to get out of your comfort zone:

• The number one thing you can do to move yourself forward is put it in writing. I have a recent example of how this worked for me... I've been wanting to get a spiritual adviser for some time now and there was a woman I saw every month who I wanted to ask. Month after month went by and I would think about asking her but I wouldn't do it and I'd leave telling myself I'd ask her the next month. Finally, I added it to my One Year Goals and within two weeks I saw her again and I finally approached her about it. I almost didn't though. I almost waited another month but I knew it was in writing and I wanted to check it off my list. So, write down one thing you will do this week to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone.

• You don't have to do it all at once. Break your goal down into manageable pieces. For instance, say you absolutely hate networking. Every time you think of it you imagine having to be witty, charming, and making sales. Relax. It doesn't work like that. All networking requires is for you to show up and make friends with a couple of people. Networking isn't about going to an event and "wow"-ing everyone with your amazing products and expertise and walking out with connections with everyone in the room. Start by choosing a group you want to visit and then show up and be friendly. It's that easy. No pressure.

• The last thing you absolutely have to is take action. Writing it down and creating a plan won't do you any good if you don't follow through with action. Enlist the help of a friend to help you be accountable. Tell them what you are going to do and then ask them to check in with you at the end of the week to see if you did it or not. My accountability partner is another coach who I went through coach training with. We email each other our goals at the beginning of each week and check in at the end of the week to see how we did. It gives an extra boost of incentive to achieve when you have to report back to someone.

To recap, put it in writing, make it manageable, and take action. The key is to keep moving forward even if it's just baby steps. Every time you take a step forward your confidence will increase and pretty soon what felt uncomfortable will be second nature to you. And don't worry about making mistakes because each one is just a new experience that will bring you closer to what you want.

In closing, my encouragement for you this week is that you will do just one thing that you've been putting off because it makes you uncomfortable.

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