It’s not enough to want to take the dive — here’s how to accomplish pretty much anything.
A few years ago I attended a conference on goal setting. Among other things, I wrote down a list of things I would love to do before I die.
Five years later I woke up one morning to realize that most of the things I had written down were still undone.
That realization brought a strong desire for me to change things. One of the first things that caught my attention then was where I wrote that I was going to be an above average swimmer. Oddly enough, I had never gone into the swimming pool prior to that time.
I immediately decided to face my fears and go have my first swimming experience.
So what lessons did my first swimming experience teach me about starting a business?
Decide to take action.
For the first time, I went beyond thinking of swimming and actually made a conscious decision to swim.
When it comes to starting that business, enough with the wishing, thinking and talking. You need to make a conscious decision to start. Making a decision involves more than just wishing for something to happen. It is something you have to do consciously.
Thus you need to go beyond desiring that business. Take yourself to the point where you know that you are going to act on your desire against all odds.
Give yourself a deadline.
After deciding to go to the pool, I went further and picked a date. It became registered internally as an appointment I must keep. Without a deadline, I would have simply procrastinated.
When I was about to start my super mart, I chose a date to commence operations. In my case, I succeeded in starting the business a few days later than I was supposed to.
A goal without a deadline is merely a wish. Wishing to start a business is nice, but “nice” won’t make you start the business. A deadline will. So put a date to your goal and stick to it till it becomes a reality.
Tell your friends and family about your decision.
I started telling my close friends and family members about my intention to go swimming for the first time. Some of them laughed at me, but it didn’t stop me.
I did it for two reasons. On one hand I wanted to receive encouragement. On the other hand however, telling people about it made me accountable to them. I could not just bail out anymore.
So go ahead and tell someone about your business plans. Discuss the plan with your boss, best friend, or father in law. Knowing that someone is holding you accountable will propel you to take action. Who knows, they could even support you.
Do a survey.
After I told my friends about my plans to go swimming, I started asking around about the hotels that had the best and most affordable swimming facilities in town.
When I wanted to start a poultry business two years ago, I took time to do a survey. It wasn’t just about where to sell the chicken and the eggs. I did a thorough market survey. Among other things, I inquired about where to buy the feed, where to sell the manure, and even how to get the vaccine.
Do a feasibility study in your line of business too. Write a business plan. Make inquiries and find out how things are done in that field. Look out for the people who have succeeded and find out their success secrets. Do the same for those who failed and determine not to repeat the same mistakes.
Pay your dues.
As soon as I got to the hotel, seeing the pool got me thrilled. I was so excited. All I wanted was to jump into the water and have fun. However, reason prevailed. So I went to the receptionist and paid.
Likewise, always be on the look out to pay the necessary dues before you start your business. Some of these dues could be in the form of taxes, business permits, waste management dues, etc… Neglecting to do so may lead to an unfriendly visit from the government and the IRS.
After getting my swimming ticket, I quickly asked for a lifebuoy. I wasn’t about to go into the swimming pool for the first time without it. My mom raised me better than that.
Similarly, when I was about to start my business, my mentor told me to secure the premises against burglary. It was expensive, but prevention is always better and cheaper than cure.
Make security a priority in your new business. The higher the worth of the business, the more you should invest in securing it. And of course, getting an insurance policy is non-negotiable.
Get a Coach.
Immediately when I got to the poolside, I asked for a swimming coach and a life guard. I wasn’t prepared to do something that risky without someone to guide me and save me if I started to drown.
I did the same thing when I was about to start my super mart. I met one of the people I considered to be one of the most successful business men in my city. I went under his mentorship, and saying that it helped me a lot is an understatement.
Through his guidance, I was able to land some major supply deals in the first few months after starting. Moreover mentioning his name in business circles opened more doors for me than I wouldn’t have gotten opened ordinarily.
Test the waters with your feet first.
When I got to the pool, I extended one of my feet to touch the water. I wriggled my toes a little and felt the cold water. When I got comfortable, I held the rail, climbed down a little into the shallow end of the pool and gave it my best shot.
It is very tempting to go all out with all the resources at your disposal when you are starting that business. But guess what? You shouldn’t. As someone without any business experience, the wisest thing you can do is to start small.
No matter the amount of money you have, don’t put all of it in the business at inception. Start small, gain experience and get a little bit more established before thinking seriously about expansion.
Yeah, I had a lot of fun at the pool. I hung out with my friends and we all had a wonderful time. Starting and running a business should also involve an amount of fun. It isn’t a do or die affair.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean you should not take things serious. But until you do what you enjoy, or enjoy what you do and have fun in the process; your success may be short lived.
We have only one life to live. You need to let yourself loose and start living. So put on your seat belt, start the ignition, press down the throttle of that business and zoom off.
Photo: Flickr/dana robinson