Today I want to write about the distance between having what you think is a great business idea and, say, the run-of-the-mill Tuesday many months or years later when you walk into your well-oiled and successful business, whatever that business may be.
For me, this pre-business stage followed 11 years of a corporate job where I was always surrounded by a lot of people and involved in many meetings and projects. In my new life, I began each day at my computer, wrapped in a faux fur blanket, with my cat, Betsy, sitting on the desk staring at me. Andrew, my husband, would head off to his job back on Bay Street and I would work my way through a vague to-do list with items like this:
- Find website designer (do they also do programming?)
- Make chocolate icing again (maybe needs different chocolate??)
- Buy business plan guide(s) at Indigo.
I have to tell you that this stage was – at times – lonely and led me to conclude that the saying, “it’s lonely at the top”, has it backwards. It seems to me that big company CEOs (and little company CEOs) are surrounded by people sharing their opinions, strategizing about this and that, why, even giving gifts! Since opening a cupcake business, I have received cupcake-themed cards, books, notepads, posters, and even an inflatable cat in a can since Betsy can’t come to the bakery with me. But in the pre-business stage, gifts are few and far between and the feedback you get is like this:
“Have you thought about working again?”
“Hmm, interesting, cupcakes eh?”
“Really?? Well, that’ll keep you out of trouble!”
So at this stage you need to have a vision or idea that means a lot to you but almost more importantly, you need to be able to keep chipping away on your list of vague to-do items because if you stop halfway through, nobody will prod you along.
The DIY personality profiling that I suggest is pretty simple:
Are you a self-starter? (I am not going to define this because if you are not sure what I mean then you are not a self-starter.)
Are you good at breaking down goals into small steps so you can keep yourself from getting discouraged or overwhelmed?
Do you know what you personally need in the way of social support and are you able to provide that for yourself?
The last point is important because when your business is just air, it is helpful to cobble together your own little network of people who are interested in your ideas and want to help. This may be people you never meet except by email or phone. For me this network included my wonderful website designer in Calgary, the cupcake store owner in Winnipeg who kindly answered all my questions by email, and the helpful instructor in a “Business for Bakers” night class I took right at the beginning of my journey. These people – and others like them – really buoyed me up and helped me believe in my ideas at a stage when I think it is easy to get discouraged.