This blog is about bringing the minds of business together to learn from each other. We all work differently, and we all have little hacks we’ve discovered along the way. I talk regularly here about what excites me, what I’ve learned, and any mistakes I’ve made – so you can avoid them, too. And this is why I’ve written this post. Starting your own business is overwhelming, so here’s an insight into my own practice, of how to bring a business idea to life.
If you have an idea and are pumped up to get it off the ground, one of the biggest challenges is the fact that there is no instruction manual to guide you. There’s nobody around to tell you what to do, or advise for your specific idea. You’re jumping into completely new territory.
So really, you have to source it yourself. You have to do all the work, research, marketing, and all that goes with it – entirely yourself, and make your own map to follow.
It can be hard to prioritise certain tasks in starting off. And working with so many entrepreneurs, I see a lot of people tackling problems that are way ahead in the game. Things that might not need to be started for 6 months or so. And focusing on these tasks ahead of the closer, more pressing ones.
The fundamental things that you need to get on top of at the start are probably a little bit boring. And the things that are happening in 6 months time, are the more exciting ones in all likelihood, so they can be a lot more fun to work on.
When I think about a business, I immediately start scribbling. What’s the business’ mission? What do I want to achieve with this? What does that look like starting off? How will it look like in 3, 6, 9 months? In a year?
Writing what I want to manifest down on paper – and seeing what I can do when. What do I need to do before I can do the next thing – to get to my final goal? And I start to get these very clear stages. Stages that sort of formulate themselves and become clear the more you put on paper.
The first stage is always putting the infrastructure in place. Getting the fundamentals right. Registering your business name, getting a bank account, sourcing suppliers, finance, your logo, website, branding etc.
The second is – what does your business look like when it just starts? Not in a year, or what you want it to look like eventually, but when it’s just off the ground. The most basic version of the business.
And then, once you’ve nailed that – what does is look like a little bit more evolved?
And further on – what does it look like fully-formed? With everything you want to achieve realised?
These are rough guides for what the stages might look like once you’ve started writing. So it’s a bit of a scribbling mess when you put all those phases down on paper. But eventually, it starts to make some coherent sense in terms of a timeline.
What feasible in Stage 1? What can we build on after we have achieved everything we need to once we’ve achieved the fundamentals? Will X work better in Stage 3, considering Z, in Stage 2? And so on and so forth. And it will be different for each business.
Eventually you can see some sort of timeline that’s realistic and will help keep you focused. Don’t take anything for granted in this brainstorming process – make sure you cover all bases.
Once I have a timeline on paper, put it into a spreadsheet. You can type it up whatever way suits you – and there are a lot of templates out there.
I lay out what will happen in each stage, put a time period for each stage, and for each stage write down what the core objectives are I want to achieve. I ask myself – what’s viable for me to achieve? What’s realistic is important, too. Do your research. As I said, this is about staying focused and achieving things consistently.
So for each core objective, I break down what I need to do to achieve each of them, and write down a to-do list for each one.
- Stage 1 (Jan 1st – March 31st)
– Source graphic designer
– Research competitors branding
– Bring together colours/ideas/mood board for vision to bring to designer
– List all of the types of suppliers I need
– Call around for pricing/delivery/product information
– Order test products
– Write down what I want on the website
– Check out WordPress/Squarespace to make own
– Compare with paying for website
Sell at Markets
– Find out all markets in my area
– Contact and get cost and terms & conditions
– Compile List
– Work out what markets can sell at
Once the first stage is done, I move on to the next page. And write down everything that I need and want for Stage 2. This is all built on Stage 1, so Stage 1 needs to be solid.
A Business Plan
Eventually, you build yourself a map for your business. A map of what needs to be done, and what can be expected in Stage 1, Stage 2, and so on and so forth. All tied to time periods, to keep things ticking over and to make sure you stay focused.
For me, the real value is the difference between waking up in the morning a saying ‘what will I do today?’ versus waking up and knowing straight away what your day is going to look like. It takes a lot off your shoulders.
It can help break things down into more manageable chunks and help make the journey of ‘starting your own business’ less of a mammoth task. More of a consistent, achievable undertaking. You know now what you need to get done by the end of the week or month, to stay on plan.
Preparation is Key
There’s a lot of pressure at the beginning to get things right, which is impossible to do every time, especially if it’s your first time in business. And a lot of pressure to piece together the best way to do things. Doing this plan, I don’t need (or want) to be brainstorming every day when I wake up. That’s exhausting. There’s a time and a place for brainstorming, and it’s at the beginning.
Abraham Lincoln has a great quote: “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” And it’s so true. One of the most beneficial things a person can do at the beginning, is to sit down and take a lot of time for planning.
I know it’s not the most exciting thing in the world – but it really will save you time (and energy) in the long run. Preparing as much as possible.
Being an entrepreneur, very often there is no structure. So rather than running around with no focused task in hand, you can relax a little and settle in to the journey that you have planned out, knowing what is coming each day.
So once you have a plan, you can relax into the flow. And with this, you go into every day and week, knowing exactly what you need to do.
If there’s any part of this where you’re confused or unsure – feel free to shoot me a mail. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have and even share templates that I’ve worked on myself that have worked for me in the past.
And if you like what you’ve been reading these past few weeks and want to get in contact – ask me about my initiative Entrepreneurs Anonymous.