Wednesday, January 30, 2013

are you crazy?

Originally published August 22, 2012

I was recently asked what advice I would give to youngsters wanting to start their own business. Ok, this is funny to me. I'm six months in to starting my own business. I should be asking for advice. But as I am never one to shy away from any opportunity to give advice, I gave it a shot. I don't necessarily think the things I've learned the hard way qualifies me as an expert on everything, but I do believe that I can offer you some food for thought. Or at the very least, entertainment. 

Things you should consider before starting your own business, as learned by Ms.b.haven:
1. Seriously evaluate if you are crazy. Ask around, people will tell you. Sometimes we make decisions based on emotional events or serious hatred of our current situation. While it's not necessarily wrong to do this, it can color our judgement a bit. If you hate your job sooooo much you would do anything to get out it and decide to start a business without proper consideration of how it will impact your life, you will suffer more than is necessary. Starting a business out of desperation is dangerous. 

2. Believe in yourself. This was the toughest one for me in several ways. Believing in yourself is different from arrogance. Arrogance implies that you know it all. Believing in yourself means knowing who you are -- talents, faults and all. Accepting all of these aspects of who you are is imperative to life as well as business. BELIEVE that you can do this. But be honest with yourself as to your limitations (does not mean they are insurmountable).

3. Work hard. Like really hard. Like really, really hard. When you love what you are doing, this is easier than it sounds. You will/should work harder than you ever thought you could. I'm talking mental work, physical work, creative work (even if you are not thinking of a creative product/business), and social work. When you believe in what you are doing, you will be motivated to do all that is necessary for your business. Shortcuts do not exist, or if they do, proceed with caution.

4. Step outside your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable doing something, that means that you haven't done it before or that there is some fear of failure. Embrace these opportunities! You will learn from them, I promise. The worst that can happen often doesn't. And if it does, you will come out of it a lot smarter.

5. Listen. People love to deal in worst-case scenarios. It is human nature. Listen, but understand that most folks do not know what your end goals are. On the other hand, a solid support network can be invaluable when those doubts creep up. They also might not know what your end goals are, but trust that you know what you are doing (even if you don't). Ask for help when you need it. There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you need assistance. Misplaced pride will do you more harm than anything.

6. Plan. There are a ton of resources on this topic that say things a lot better than me. PLEASE do not underestimate the importance of having a plan. Write it down. Refer to it. 

7. Love it. You have to be emotionally involved in starting any business. You have to love the hard work, the heartache and the triumphs of owning your own business. But, you also have to remember than it IS a business and may not love you back at times (refer to support network at these times).

8. Give yourself no choice but success. If you have an "escape plan" you will be tempted to use it. What-if's have no place here. You can't plan for everything, but you can plan on succeeding no matter what the circumstances. That's all part of the believing in yourself thing.

There are probably a dozen more things I could add to this list -- flexibility, fearlessness, resourcefulness, etc. While I used these things as advice for newbies, I actually try to apply this list to everything in life. Well, except for the plan part. Ha! Even if you aren't starting a business, think about how you live your life. Do you do everything you can to make yourself happy? If you aren't, why not? 

Crazy like a fox,

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