All through my early 20's, I felt like a ‘closet entrepreneur'. I had no shortage of business ideas, but when it came to actually taking action on those ideas, I always felt the means to do so were just out of reach. I knew I wanted to be self-employed and express myself through my work but I didn't know how I'd get there. I felt like I was stuck on the sidelines watching everyone else ride the wave of entrepreneurship. It wasn't long before the pain that came from suppressing my dreams quickly outweighed the temporary fear of failure that came with trying something new.
Have you ever felt like that before? Or maybe you're feeling that way right now? If so, this post is for you and I hope that it can help you get closer to launching your dream business.
We are incredibly lucky to live in a time and place where we have so many low-cost, low-risk opportunities we can use to get started in business, and for the most part, they’re right at our finger tips. But because taking the first few steps can often feel overwhelming and confusing, I thought it would be helpful to share what some of those first few steps were for me and how it led me to finally evolving my business ideas into action.
Here are 4 easy steps that got me started.
1. I INVESTED IN MYSELF
Even though for a long time I had no idea what I wanted to 'do' for a living, I didn't let that stop me from taking courses in school and looking for opportunities to expand my potential. While I was working full-time, I was in and out of school, always taking random classes but not really knowing how it would all fit together. I just knew that any course I took, or money I spent developing a skill would be an investment that would benefit me in the long term, regardless of what I ended up doing for a career. There was a lot of uncertainty but I knew I had to trust the process. And I'm so glad I did!
One of the investments I made was taking the Self-Employment Program at Langara College. That's when I really had my lightbulb moment and could see a clear vision of how I wanted to use the skills I had developed over the years. Being able to combine both my extensive work experience and unique education played a huge part in both my ability and confidence in finally starting my own business. Long story short, after I finished the program, I started freelancing my services to family and friends. That's what gave me my first taste of working for myself and within a year I launched Megan Media Design.
Investing in myself has been a continuous commitment that I practice in a variety of ways. Going vegan was an investment in myself (along with many of other reasons but I'll save that for another post). Hiring business coaches has been an on-going investment to myself. Taking care of my physical, and mental well-being, setting boundaries in my relationships and allowing myself to say ‘no’ in order to say ‘yes’ to the things that are important to me... These are all ways of investing in myself.
So, whether it’s taking some fun courses, joining a fitness class, setting boundaries, learning about the food you eat, finding a mentor, or hiring help with your business... I believe that investing in the fundamentals of yourself and your health will pay you back tenfold and give a huge boost of confidence and energy. Without you, your business (or business idea) doesn’t exist, so make sure to treat yourself as a precious asset that deserves to be invested in and well taken care of.
2. I STARTED SMALL (AND RIGHT AWAY)
In a time where everything is expected to happen overnight, it’s easy to forget the power of baby steps and how they can add up to make a big difference over time. Once I figured out that my goal was to start my own online business, I got started on it right away! I knew I needed to take action before I lost my courage or let my fear of failure take over. Even if it was doing one small thing at a time. This involved finding my niche, researching my target market, getting on social media (I started building my audience, even though I didn't have anything to sell yet), and deciding on a business name. I find that the sooner you start planting those seeds the better! Taking the first step is often the hardest, but the great thing about starting small is you can keep your current job while working on your side hustle with very little cost or risk.
This is what worked for me. No matter how scared I was to begin, I thought about how much scarier it would be to stay exactly where I was and continue to watch others create and do the things I wanted to do. The conditions weren't perfect (they never are), but anytime I thought I didn't have what I needed to keep going, I would remember a quote that one of my business teachers would say: "Do what you can, with what you have". So that's what I did. I started small and did what I could with what I had. And so can you! Even if all you have is a pen and paper... that can be enough to get the ball rolling.
3. I MADE MY PLANS VISIBLE
My ideas and plans are always so much more complicated and messy when I keep them hoarded inside of my brain. Can you relate? It's not until I actually get my goals on paper that I'm able to get a clear visual of the process and steps that are needed to be taken. One of the first things I did was write down my Why and create my very own personal definition of success. Having my plan and desires visible was what helped light my inner fire, find clarity, and channel the courage I needed for designing my dream business. For me, it's essential to be able to track my progress, stay organized, see the bigger picture, avoid procrastination, and plan out my month on paper. Otherwise, I think I would be doing a whole lot of running in the same spot and juggling too many things at once.
4. I LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM
Now, this totally doesn't mean I'm "over" my perfectionism. It just means that sometimes (especially at the beginning) I have to let it go and admit that DONE is better than perfect. Like when the need to perfect something starts getting in the way of making progress. Don't get me wrong, it's good to pay attention to detail and only want to put out your best work. But for me, I had to really pay attention to whether or not perfecting my work was getting in the way of putting out any work at all. I accepted that like anything you try doing for the first time, it's likely not going to look so pretty at first. I accepted that being vulnerable and sharing my work at the beginning came with nagging self-doubt. I decided to just go with it and know that in DOING, and getting practice was the best way for me to improve. This helped me recognize when it was just my fears showing up as perfectionism and I would no longer let it have the final say. And sometimes 'done' really is better than perfect. For me, more often than not, my ideas don't come out perfectly formed. They usually have a more messy, awkward, or even ugly beginning. It doesn't matter. I still know I would rather have that than nothing at all.
I believe starting your business doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly: getting your plan on paper, finding your niche, investing in yourself, getting practice with social media, and letting go of perfectionism are just a few of the ways to start building momentum.
Now is a great time to join the growing movement of self-employment and I believe this trend is on its way to becoming the new norm. With endless technological advancements, social media, and automation, 'traditional' jobs are becoming less secure and people are becoming more willing to experiment with new ideas about work in general.
I encourage you this year, to come out of your ‘entrepreneurial closet’ and give your dream a chance to come alive. If you need any help along the way, I would be honoured to design your dream business with you. If you are interested in working with me or have questions, I invite you to book your Free 20-min Assessment Call.