Thinking of starting a business?

“Starting your own business isn’t just a job – it’s a way of life.” Richard Branson

So when is the right time to start a business?

If you’ve been thinking that you’d like to start your own business at some point…

or if you’ve got fed up with commuting and think there might be a better way to earn a living…

or if you’re fed up with your boss and office politics…

or you’ve got a dream to make a difference, to do something that matters…

or you want a new challenge, to build something to be proud of…

or you’ve got a driving purpose that you just have to do something with…

Then maybe you’re asking yourself about timing.

It’s not if but when.

When is now a good time?

There are lots of reasons to put off starting a business:

You haven’t got the right skills…

You don’t know how to do it…

You are concerned about the risk…

The economy isn’t right…

You’re too early for the market…

You’re too late for the market…

Someone else is already doing it…

You haven’t got the money…

Or the time…

Or don’t have the spare energy and headspace…

So when would be a good time?

When is NOW going to be the time?

Procrastination won't start a business

“It’s a myth that you need thousands of pounds to start a business.” Sara Davies

For many people these reasons are really excuses – they are logical reasons we tell ourselves to mask a deeper sense of fear and unease. Going from a comfortable life to a risky life, from the security of being an employee with a regular income to the uncertainty of not knowing where the income will come from.

Being honest with your own feelings is vital, listen to them and hear the messages that they are saying to you. Your rational mind can then accept those feelings, hear the messages and warnings and assess them.

It may be that you “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Not out of a recklessness, but from a logical rational weighing up of the pros and cons. Of course, there is risk, but you might be able to work out a plan B and a plan C, so logically you know there will be options if things don’t work out as you hoped, allowing you to proceed even if the fear still persists.

Understand your motivation

“The self-owned and -operated business is the freest life in the world.” Paul Hawken

When thinking about starting a new business, there are a mixture of motives. They can broadly fall into two categories: towards and away from.

Away from motivation covers things like struggling with the daily commute, losing enthusiasm for your work, bored by your job, not wanting to work for another difficult boss – the list goes on.

Generally speaking, these are not good enough reasons to start a business! Quite simply because as soon as you no longer do the daily commute, or have the difficult boss, the problem has gone away, the pain has subsided. If the pain goes away you no longer have the driving force behind your motivation. There is no longer anything to move away from!

Towards motivation includes things like wanting to determine your own future, to create something yourself, to grow, learn and challenge yourself, to meet a need that you can see, to make a difference, to fulfil a deeper purpose, to create something meaningful, to create a better life for you and your family, to crate a vehicle for what you are passionate about.

These are some great reasons to start your own business! Even better than starting it, they continue to be good reasons to build it and grow it for the long term. They are much more likely to fuel you on the journey.

These towards-motivated reasons give you a strong purpose, a strong reason WHY you are doing it.

Why and how

“For me, the winning strategy in any start-up business is, ‘Think big but start small.’ ” Carmen Busquets

Once you have a strong enough WHY the rest follows.

The next question is HOW to start it and build it. There are many different approaches and lots of freely available information on how to do it. There are some approaches that will suit you better than others.

Copying other approaches may or may not work for you. The point is that you are now on a journey of exploration to find out how you can best build your business. There is no one right answer.

You need to keep exploring until you find an approach that works for you. This means trying a few things and accepting they won’t all work.

The good news is that you don’t need to try everything and you only really need to find a few things, out of all the many possibilities, that work for you. You need to keep going until you find it. Of course you do need to exercise some judgement here, if nothing works you need to understand what’s going on because you may need to make some more radical changes.

As a business coach I work alongside new and existing business owners to plan, build and develop their businesses. I act as a sounding board, a mentor and coach. I help them problem-solve, open up possibilities, join dots, spot gaps and learn lessons.

Business coaching works with business owners that have a strong WHY – they have a strong PURPOSE for starting a business other than just making a profit and making a living. Their strong driving purpose – whatever it is – is the fuel to get started and keep going, it might be a longer-term goal that they are striving towards, or it might be the knowledge that they are doing things on purpose.

If you have a strong enough WHY, you will find out HOW and keep going UNTIL.

Why now?

Let’s revisit the away from motivation reasons. They are still perfectly valid motives, but just not for starting a business. So what use are they?

They might be the key to the TIMING. They might be the tipping point. Maybe you are saying something like this:

“The commute is now too much – I can’t go on like this – maybe now is the time to start the business I’ve been thinking about for all the good towards-motivated reasons I have.”

“My boss has done it again – that’s the last straw – maybe now is the time to start the business I’ve been thinking about for all the good towards-motivated reasons I have.”

The away from reasons have their place in prompting the green light for the towards-motivated reasons to get you moving.

So what are the steps you need to take?

Understand the steps

“Once you start a business, you have to grow it and grow with it – starting a business is not just for Christmas.” Natalie Massenet

Starting a business is a process, not an event.

There are several steps to take and you can start taking quite a few of them with no risk at all!

You will certainly need to spend some time.

Some steps will require a bit of money.

Indeed, one of the first questions is determine whether you will invest mostly time or mostly money in starting up your business.  If you’re unwilling or unable to invest any of your own time or money then you probably need to think again!

The time and money that you invest will not be wasted if you focus on the right steps. Even if you end up not proceeding with your business, it won’t be wasted, because it’s all learning. You will have found an answer to whether this business idea is viable and right for you, right now. The lessons you learn from that process will stand you in good stead for whatever you choose to do next.

If you want to learn the steps needed to start your own business – and to take some of them, you might like to look at the course I’ve created on starting your own business. As well as taking you through the key steps, it will help you spend some time getting your plan together so that when you are ready to start you don’t waste time, money or effort doing the wrong things.

The smallest first step

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.

Starting a business starts with a first step.

What might that be for you?

Usually the first step is to start to put things down in writing. The first act of creating anything is to take it from inside your head to the outside world and the easiest way to put it into the outside worlds is to write down your ideas.

From dreams to reality

“I always knew I wanted to start my own line. Nights and weekends, I would work on my business plan.” Chris Benz

Writing down your initial ideas is the first step from taking your hopes and dreams and making them reality. Making real and tangible what has been intangible up to now.

You can make your dreams a reality by designing your business how you want it and then listing out the steps to make it happen (or at least as many steps as you can see at this point) and then start working through those steps.

This not some fancy, glossy “business plan” that you think a big bank might want to see, but a practical plan of action – a tool for you to focus on the right steps.

Each step brings your dreams closer to reality. It is an act of creation!

Exploring options and possibilities

“Learn to bet on yourself and have confidence in your own decisions. No one knows your business better than you.” Leah Busque

If you have time on your hands, then exploring a range of possible ideas is a great way to spend some time.

You first ideas are almost certainly not what will end up being the final business in real life. Why? Because you have lots of assumptions and incomplete information. The act of taking the first steps is to shine the light of reality upon them.

You may have lots of ideas about what you want to do and how it could be done – but the “whats” can change depending upon what the customers want and value and the “hows” can change as you discover what people are already doing and what works in your chosen field.

Spending some time exploring several options will help you refine what you really want to create and how to do it.

When you do then make a choice about what you will do and how to do it, you will have clarity of vision and a focus for your next steps.

Don’t close down options too early. I call this Diamond Thinking and I have a process and a range of tools for expanding and exploring options in a structured way and then coming to a point of focus and priority. This allows you focus with confidence on one idea because you have a solid rationale for it and the knowledge that it was the best of the options you looked at.

Conclusion: What will you do NOW?

“A lot of people who own a business aren’t entrepreneurial at all.” Carol Roth

So, let’s start where we are right now.

What small first step could you take right now?

Maybe you could…

Create a new folder on your computer…

Buy a new notebook and make it your business planning and ideas book…

Create a small workspace at home for working on your business…

Learn some skills…

Do some research…

Remind yourself of the benefits of owning your own business

You can if you like enrol on my Starting Your Own Business course – right now. As a thank you for reading through this article, I can offer it to you for half price, 50% off – just type NOW50 in the coupon code at the checkout.

Whatever first step you take, make it a small one – and take it!

Thinking of Starting Your Own Business?

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