For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about making 2018 the year that you finally take action and start (or grow) that business, addressing all the blocks and fears and excuses that get can get in the way. So, let’s assume that you’ve overcome all those blocks and fears, and you’ve made the time in your calendar to build a business… What now? How do you even get started? And, importantly, how do you make sure that you create something that really brings you what you want?
Well, as with everything, I recommend that you start with defining what success looks like. Yes, you may have some vague ideas of “freedom”, “independence”, and “I want to be like Elon Musk…” – but what are you really hoping to achieve with this business?
Having a clear vision of what you’re trying to create is going to help you work out how to get there – and stay motivated to make sure that you do.
Discover the 5Ls model to help you think more broadly about success
In my experience - from my own life and from working with clients over the years - there are five key areas in our lives that need to be balanced in order for us to thrive and live a truly successful life in a more whole and holistic sense: LIVE - Wellness & Wellbeing; LOVE - Relationships & Romance; LEARN - Development & Growth; LEAD - Career & Impact; and LAUGH - Fun & Spontaneity.
Here’s how to get to that all-important vision so that you get what you want from your business (and your life):
1. Uncover your values
Starting with your values may seem a bit foreign in a secular society, and it may feel like a bit of a detour when it comes to planning a business. However, your values are absolutely central to who you are. They’re anchored in your fundamental beliefs and desires, and a life (and business) that is misaligned with these values is a life that will never bring fulfilment or happiness.
What do you value most in your life? What’s important to you, maybe more so than to the people around you? If there was one thing you would stand up for, no matter the cost, what would that be? You want to arrive at three or a maximum of five values, to give you enough flexibility and range while staying focused.
These values will help to guide your decisions, from the big picture down to the day to day. They will affect the type of projects you want to do, the type of organisations and clients you want to work with, and how you want to go about your tasks. Getting clear on your values upfront will prevent a lot of time wasting and struggles further down the line.
2. Find the fun
I’m a big believer in the idea that you will do your best work when you enjoy it. You’re never going to be truly motivated to do the work if you don’t find some kind of pleasure and meaning in it. Especially when you’re creating your own business, it’s going to be hard – and the whole point is that you’re creating something that you love here! That means knowing yourself, and knowing what you enjoy.
Do you love plugging away at a problem by yourself or bouncing ideas off people in a team? Do you enjoy writing or do you prefer to talk to people? What type of work and projects do you most enjoy? What type of people do you enjoy working with?
Yes, you will need to do some things that you don’t enjoy, at least in the short run, but ultimately you want to be building a business around work that you do enjoy so that you bring the energy and effort required to make it a success in the long run.
3. Consider the logistics
This one’s not so sexy but often the practical aspects of work matter more than all that talk of purpose and mission. Part of the reason why the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself appeals so much is that you avoid that long commute and rush hour traffic every morning and night; you can work in your pyjamas; you can pick up your sick child early from school and then do some extra work instead in the evening. So what are the practical requirements of your business?
Questions to think about include: Are there certain hours that you can or can’t work? How is your natural rhythm – when are you at your best? Do you want to stay local so that you can be with your family or do you want to have the ability to travel wherever, whenever? Are you happy to travel to clients’ offices or do you want to be able to work remotely? What kind of projects and clients lend themselves to the way in which you want to work?
What you don’t want to do is create a so-called ‘freedom business’ that ties you to the same exact lifestyle that you were trying to escape in the first place. So make sure you’re considering the logistics of how you want to work in the future, and build a business that fits with this.
4. Create an environment in which you’ll thrive
Linked to the practical concerns is the context in which you’re going to be working and how you’re going to make sure that you’re absolutely at your best. Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: if you don’t have a foundation of safety and security, health and wellbeing, you can’t possibly strive for those upper echelons of fulfilment and self-actualisation.
How are you going to manage your stress levels, in particular at the beginning when everything is new and the learning curve will be steep? How are you going to make sure that you prioritise self-care? Where are you going to work – do you have an ergonomic desk space set up, that’s separate from other living areas? What kind of support are you going to need in terms of friendly encouragement, accountability and business mentorship?
You may be tempted to think, “Oh, I just need to work really hard in the beginning and then I can get back into a better balance.” Don’t fall for that trap! If you set up a business based on stress and over-working then that’s what you’ll create. You need to get the foundation in place from day one, to support the business and to support you as an entrepreneur and as a human being.
5. What if it all works out?
I read somewhere that we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Well, what about three years? Five years? Ten? As I like to ask my clients: If I could wave my magic wand and give you everything you hope for, what would that look like? This is your real vision. Your Dream. Your “I don’t quite dare to admit it, but if I were really honest with myself, this is what I would want…” What does this look like for you?
How would your business end up, assuming it all goes according to plan? What would be your role in that business? Would you have a big team of employees or associates doing the work while you’re managing them and focusing on business development? Do you want to build something but then extricate yourself so that you can sell your business and move on to the next idea? Or do you love the work and you want to always be doing it, however successful you get?
You want to always have this vision in mind as you build your business, however far off it may seem today. Otherwise, you might get caught up in building something that looks very different – and even if you do eventually achieve it, you’ll be no better off than when you started.
If you’d like to explore how you can get what you want from your business – from the big vision down to the day-to-day routine – then you can book a consultation call with me. We’ll identify the biggest gaps today and then discuss the options for how I might be able to support you.