Don’t know where to start with an idea, project, business or plan? That’s all the more reason to get going!
The world is full of people with good or interesting ideas. What separates those who develop those ideas from those who don’t? The answer is simple – making a start.
Of course, starting is not enough, you need to persevere and flexivere but it’s surprising how many people fall not at the finish line or even the first hurdle but before the starter’s pistol goes off. They think, they plan, they discuss it with family and friends, but they never make a start.
One of the things that stops people from making a start on a project or business is that they forget that starting is about small steps. Lots of people fail to start because they imagine it to be like a big dive off a high board rather than what it actually is, dipping your toe in the water. So, if you would like to start a restaurant, maybe start by running a pop-up supper club once a month. If you want to start a business as a graphic designer, keep going with your day job but start working on your first commissions after work and at weekends. Don’t wait to start from some theoretical future point, start from where you are.
This sounds so simple but it is where a lot of the fear is. It extends to founders already running a business when they’re thinking about starting a new product line or service. Same principle: keep doing what you’re doing but just make a small start with the other thing – try it with a select number of current clients, experiment, do a small, soft launch. Just start!
Another misconception that stops us from starting things is that we don’t want to get going until we have everything figured out. When we think like this, we forget that starting allows you to explore things. People are afraid to begin things because they fear they won’t work out exactly as they planned. Newsflash: They won’t! And that’s fine! The business, project or product you finish with will not be exactly what you planned when you were starting. It might be a lot worse but it may also be a lot better. Either way, it is highly likely to be at least a bit different.
Just start, knowing what you’d like but not being wedded to a very set outcome; start with the mindset of an explorer. Take that first step, experiment, listen to your customers and clients as you go and build what works. Things that don’t work out can often be reconfigured into something that does. But, you don’t know what works or how to change things unless you start them.
Sometimes, when you’ve been thinking about something for a long time, it takes on its own sluggish vibe which paralyses you into thinking it’s a bad idea. It’s so easy to get caught up in theoretical and hypothetical reasons an idea might not work and tie yourself and your idea in knotty what-ifs. Starting is great because it creates its own momentum. Once you start, you move from the hypothetical to reality, you’re dealing with real benefits and real issues and you deal with them in real time and make real progress, momentum is built, the paralysis is gone.
Perhaps best of all, once you start, people who you would never have imagined will get involved. They will appear out of the blue and in surprising places. Starting engages others. They will become your clients and customers, investors and mentors, they will encourage you, they will challenge you, they will help you move forward. If you don’t start, you will not attract these people because there’s nothing to be attracted to.
People often describe entrepreneurs and founders as self-starters and they are but, if you’re going to build a solid business, you need to able to start other people as well. As you start, you light a touch paper for others as well.
Of course it’s good to plan and budget and think ahead. By all means, draw up your business plan, think about funding and markets and marketing but don’t wait for someone else to tell you when to go. You’re an adult. If you’re going build your own business, make your own living and run your own race, you need to be ready to set off the starter’s pistol yourself. Just start!
Image: Tinmay Yu