If the statistics are true, more people than ever before want to star their own business someday. Of those people, I bet 90% of them have no clue what type of business they want to start. Today's post provides a process that should help you start gaining clarity on what Your Company, Inc. looks like.
Before we begin, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Defining your business mission is not an easy or quick process. For many it takes years. The important part is that you keep on searching and keep trying new things until something feels right. Whatever you do, don't get discouraged and quit. (Kind of like dating, weird.)
2. Remember that your business will probably change and evolve several times before it settles and starts making money. This is normal and ok. You are not a ditz if this happens.
3. Get over the fact that there is a recession going on and stop using it as an excuse. Many great companies were started in the midst of a recession, check out this article for proof.
The books that helped me focus my brainstorming process the most were ones I read in the last year: Ladies Who Launch and Escape Corporate America. Here are some ways to start putting your dreams into action based on these books.
Step 1: Fantasize
In your handy entrepreneur notebook (which I hope you have purchased by now) jot down the answers to the following questions. Put down the first things that come to mind, even if your thoughts seem odd. These questions are not necessarily easy, so come back to them over time as needed.
• What did you love doing as a child?
• If money were no object, what would you do?
• What do your friends and family say about you? (Sarah is so great at connecting people, Tara is so organized, Corrine hosts the best events) Sometimes what your friends and family say about you are things that you didn't notice in yourself. Pay attention to these compliments and write them down.
• Outline your perfect workday. Yes, I said perfect. Yoga, manicures, lunch with Oprah, driving your Range Rover, and playing with your new puppy can all be included.
• Who are your career idols?
Step 2: Research
• Write down a list of all of your interests. Yes, this includes any secret interests you have such as bowling and color-coding your underwear drawer. Once you get that list, start googling and twitter searching the interests to prove to yourself that there are way more careers and small businesses out there than you imagined.
• Now write down your skills and talents. They can be conventional skills such as your ability to build a website or your mastery of Quicknooks, or they can be unconventional. "Soft" skills are just as important when you have your own business. Start drawing parallels between your interests list and your skills/talents list.
• Use the skills/talents and interests list to make up your dream job title. If you could have any dream job title, what would it be? Make it fun if you wish. My new job title is "Chief Executive Diva" of Ms. Career Girl. Now see if this job title exists, and if not start researching ways to make it come to life.
Step 3: Go Shopping
Hell no! I am NOT talking about a trip to Michigan Avenue here. Rather, window shop your dream job and take advantage of the dressing room. Here are some tips on how to start "shopping":
• Start reading blogs on entrepreneurship and on things that interest you daily.
• Join Twitter or use your existing Twitter account to start connecting with people who have similar interests.
• Research your "competition" or existing "dream companies" to see what they are doing. Then, get some guts and ask someone from that company to lunch.
• If it is possible, volunteer doing something that helps you meet new people and get a little closer to your targeted industry.
• Take a class at a local college, join an incubator or get involved in your local Women's Business Center even if you're not sure exactly what you want to do yet. These groups will really help.
• As you get more confident, offer to guest post on a blog or start your own blog.
Just start somewhere. Consider it your new part-time job to find your strengths, passions and future business aspirations. Talk to everyone you can and try on many different "outfits," you never know what could fit.
Once you get your "dream on," then we can start talking about implementing the dream. And let me know if you want to be considered as the subject for part 2 of this post.