What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Move to a new town? Jump from an airplane? Start your own business?
The world is full of dreamers with big ideas and even bigger guts to pursue those goals. It’s also full of detail-oriented planners and organizers that may have a dream but are too scared or overwhelmed to follow a dream, much less take the first step to even consider making it a reality.
My name is Jen and I am a planner. I like to joke that my superpower is organizing. If you give me parameters or boundaries to work within, I will get whatever it is organized: your to-do list, the files in your desk drawer, your annual budget, even that scary junk drawer you like to avoid unless you absolutely need to grab something from it. However, the minute you give me a task with no guidelines, I’m instantly stressed-out and quickly suffering from what my husband calls “paralysis by analysis”.
So how does a planner with an idea, perhaps one that they themselves don’t take very seriously because they can’t visualize how it could ever come to fruition, start to take steps to follow their curiosity or dream of starting a business? Ask for help. While we are divulging secrets, I’ll also admit that I dislike asking for help. I never want to feel like I am burdening someone, but I’ve come to learn that 99% of the time, the person from whom you are asking for help doesn’t see it as a burden. In fact, most of the time they are happy, even excited, to help.
The volume of resources available for entrepreneurs is vast. There are many aspects to starting your business that need to be considered before you can open the doors or sell your services and there are experts out there that want to help. So, who do you ask for help?
Visit your local Small Business Development Center. There are nearly 1000 centers throughout the country that offer free consulting and low-cost training. The consultants that you’ll meet with are professional volunteers, across all areas of business, who want to help the dreamers achieve their goals.
Hire a business coach or consultant. Think of these coaches and consultants as your own personal cheerleader. From the 10,000-foot view to the most minute of details, your coach or consultant will work with you to determine your goals and help devise a realistic and attainable path to achieve those goals. Many of these experts have been in your shoes and know how overwhelming it can be to get started; they will work with you through those first scary and overwhelming steps to develop goals, perhaps using a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) system and something similar to our BARCS (Business Administrative Response Coordination System) tool set to breakdown your ideas and curiosities and work with you to identify where you want to be next week, next year, ten years from now. As you work towards these goals, your coach or consultant will offer a helping hand along the way, as well as hold you accountable to stay on task and work towards opening or growing your business.
Seek out pioneers in your field of interest. Push aside that worry that you are bothering someone and reach out to a successful individual, or even a newer entrepreneur, in a similar industry. These people have been exactly where you are so they understand the worries and questions that are part and parcel of turning your idea into reality. With so much of our world now operating virtually, it’s easier to reach out professionally than it ever has been in the past. If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn profile and start connecting or join your local Chamber of Commerce or other business networking group.
Get online. The Small Business Administration website (www.sba.gov) has a plethora of resources, from a getting started checklist to contact information for consultants, as well as courses that walk you through every step of the process. Inc. Magazine (www.inc.com) has articles on everything from startup to growth to innovation. Even a quick Google search will provide more related blog posts, podcasts, and articles than you could read in a lifetime.
Now is the time to go ahead and ask for help. Don’t wait. If you have an idea or a vision, jump in and test the waters. There is no harm in talking to someone to see how you can start to follow your dream of owning a business. Though asking for help may not seem so big to some, it can be huge to others- but don’t let your fear stop you. There is no idea too big or small or silly or weird.