When I officially quit my full time corporate gig for an easy part-time job, I was ecstatic. “I’m going to have so much more time for my side hustle!” I thrilled. “With all this newfound time freedom, it’s going to be a breeze to get my business going full time!”
So I pulled out my laptop, made coffee and poured it into my “bitches get stuff done” mug, and sharpened perfectly color-coordinated pencils, ready to take on the world.
And there I sat. And sat. And sat.
Because while I had all the passion and enthusiasm 5 feet of person could contain, I had no effing clue what I was doing.
I knew I was supposed to be working. And building. And hustling. But I didn’t know what I was supposed to be working on. Or where to start. Or how to find that out.
In this post, I’m going to save you from wasting time trying to figure it out. I'll show you exactly where to start and what to focus on by breaking down 5 simple ways to get started. You’re welcome.
Starting A Business Tip #1: Fall in Love with the Problem.
At its core, an impactful, heart-centered business solves a problem. Really, any successful business solves a problem. Instead of attempting to name your business or pick out the perfect business cards, start by cozying up to the problem you want to solve.
For example, I have a client named Resa who is a musician. She is passionate about the music community, but she gets discouraged by the competitive nature that comes up when hanging out with other professional musicians, and she really wants to start an organization where musicians can connect in a space of non-judgement and collaboration.
“Fall in love with this problem,” I told her. “Learn as much about it as you can. Why is your solution valuable? What’s the cost of not having a community to collaborate in? What’s the perfect solution for these musicians?”
It doesn’t matter if your problem is grand and magnanimous, like solving world hunger, or simple and down-to-earth, like helping people discover the world's most delicious macaron. The problem is the key because the more you know about it, the clearer your action steps will be.
Food for thought:
- What’s a big problem or challenge you’ve overcome?
- What large-scale problems would you love to solve?
- What tiny, everyday problems would you love to solve?
Starting a Business Tip #2: Brainstorm Your Grand Vision.
Why this business? Why you? What’s the mission here? Why are you getting out bed each morning and working on this thing? If you don’t have a clear vision of where you’re going and why it matters, it’s really easy to get caught up the details or stuck in analysis paralysis.
This piece includes getting yourself into mental shape. Trust me when I tell you that your passions are on purpose, that the Universe would not have blessed you with them if you weren’t capable of holding them with grace. This brilliant solution you have to share? It’s magic! You’re not a snake oil salesman—you’re a solution evangelist! Don’t hide that light!
Take some time to journal out the ripple effect of your work, both for you and for the world.
Food for thought:
- How does your work contribute to the type of world you want to live in?
- How will your work contribute to the type of life you want to live?
- What are your wildest dreams for this business or side hustle?
Starting a Business Tip #3: Write a Business Plan.
Have you ever head the expression, “Failing to plan is planning to fail?” Well, having a plan doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure helps. I shared my personal planning process with a client the other day, and she gawped at me. “You spend that much time planning?! How do you ever get any work done?”
“Planning isn’t an elevated form of procrastination (unless it is),” I told her. “It’s simply figuring out what you’re doing so you can go do it.”
If you’re serious about starting a purposeful, heart-centered business, laying a solid foundation is the perfect place to start.
A solid foundation contains an understanding of the following:
- Who your ideal client is
- What you offer them
- How your business makes money
- How you engage with your people and let them know you exist
- What your grand vision is, and
- What your next steps are
If you don’t have a solid plan in place yet, don’t fret. I actually have an in-depth tutorial on this that explains each piece and walks you through writing the actual plan itself. You can read it by clicking here.
Starting a Business Tip #4: Create an MVP.
All the planning and visioning in the world won’t give you a successful business if you can’t wrangle your vision into some initial baby steps. That’s where your secret weapon comes in: The MVP, or Minimum Viable Product.
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is basically the thing you can sell/offer with minimal effort so you can test your ideas out and see if this whole business thing’s got legs (i.e. going to work).
For example, I was coaching another client recently, Brooke, and she just got her coaching certification and is knee-deep in the process of building her coaching business. “I’m going to do this workshop and that class and this course and that retreat…oh! And that signature package!” she beamed.
“Amazing!” I replied. “Which one are we working on first?”
“All of them?” she said with a sheepish smile. “Okay….maybe just the workshop right now.”
Yes, you can do all the things...but you can't do all the things at one time. Doing all the things at once, my friend, leads to Overwhelm Land, and Overwhelm Land is where incredibly exciting ideas go to die. If you are starting out, create a vision for what you want from your business in 3 years, 5 years, 10, 20! Hold that vision in your heart and mind and visit it often…and then focus on one thing at a time.
Specifically, focus on the one thing you can do, sell, or offer with what you have right now.
Food For Thought:
- What would be easy for you to sell or offer right now?
- What's something that people already know they want? How can you infuse your new ideas into something that's already working in your side hustle or biz?
- What's so easy to make, offer, or sell that if it didn't work out, you wouldn't be that upset?
Starting A Business Tip #5: Test Your MVP.
Let’s say your MVP is a membership site where musicians can collaborate and share ideas without feeling the pressure of competition. (Remember Resa the Musician?) You have no idea if people want this until you test it out and see. For Resa specifically, we came up with the idea of doing a monthly collaboration workshop to see if musicians found the process valuable (they did!)
Resa was able to strategically test her ideas to see exactly what worked and what didn't, so we could tweak before spending tons of time and money on the site.
And spoiler alert: the testing phase is where I see most creative start ups fail.
Sometimes, creatives want to stay in their heads all day rather than testing their ideas in the real world, or worse: they wait until it’s perfect before sharing it with the world.
Don't be the girl who endlessly tweaks that elevator or niche statement before having all the details nailed down. What’s so wrong with sharing your work-in-progress and saying, “I’m in the midst of the messy creation process. Who want to dive in with me?”
Test all the ideas. Kill the ones that don't work, and nurture the ones that do. Treat everything as an experiment.
Food For Thought:
- What are 3 ideas that you can implement and test immediately?
- After you test, analyze your outcomes: which ideas do you love doing? Which seem to work best for the people you’re helping?
- What do you need tweak or toss out for next time?
In business...like in everything else...you have to start somewhere. And it's really normal to feel, well, nervous about starting. It's scary to think that you might get it wrong. But if you follow this blueprint and keep going, you'll be right on track.
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