Taking The Leap of Faith-Tips From A New Small Business Owner
|My son, Joshua, illustrating taking a leap of faith.|
1. Dream, catch the dream and take the step- I am a firm believer of pursuing one's dreams. My pastor once challenged us to think about a cemetery in terms of all the unwritten books, businesses never launched, screenplays never created and other dreams that never came to fruition. Do not let life pass you by while you sit on your dream. Take the first step!
2. Set Goals-As a first time business owner, it was clear to me immediately that I needed to have clearly defined goals to ensure I was on track for success. The SMART process is one that I employ to help me identify what needs to happen and when. The acronym SMART was originally attributed to Dr. George Doran, and has taken on several slightly different variations.
3. Establish and maintain a schedule-Now that I am not reporting for work at a designated time, I realized I needed discipline to establish and maintain some semblance of a schedule. Since my business is home-based, it is very easy to get side-tracked and find myself, after a period of time, lost in household tasks or simply procrastinating. A schedule is key!
4. Establish an organization method to track leads, next steps and goals. A dry erase board, any form of electronic method such as Evernote or Apple Notes, or a good-old fashioned spreadsheet are methods to consider. Essentially, if you do not have a method to track your progress, you will instead feel like a hamster in an exercise wheel, going in circles.
5. Have accountability partners-Not only do I have my husband's support, but I also have a prayer partner who prays with me daily for my business needs and aspirations. Additionally, I have another individual who offers coaching as it pertains to my business. Remember to factor in the coaching suggestions you receive and to keep up with the "homework."
6. Plan a Launch Party-My husband and I hosted a launch party to announce our new business. Our goals were to celebrate a new chapter in our lives with the start of the business, explain the purpose of the business to friends and family and to offer networking opportunities to all who were in attendance. We met our goals! To view our launch, visit: Super Extra Ordinary Mom Launch Party.
7. Network, network, network-Don't miss an opportunity to network with anyone you meet. Even if they cannot use your product or service, they may know someone who can. When filing for my business license, I missed the opportunity to meet the city's Mayor. He was escorting a guest to the lobby when our eyes met. He nodded his head towards my direction as a greeting and I waved back awkwardly, with my back glued to my chair. As I watched him disappear down the hallway to his office, I kicked myself mentally for a missed opportunity. It never hurts to make your requests known to whomever you meet. You just never know where that may lead you!
8. Pray-For me, prayer is important in all aspects of my life, especially in my professional life. I have been praying for open and closed doors-"Lord, if this opportunity is not in your will, then shut it down!" The challenge, I discovered, is to be prepared for when those doors are closed. Closed doors may sting the self-esteem a bit and the tendency is to focus on that door and why it is closed. I learned that I had to shift my focus from "Why not?" to "What's next?" It is also important to take time out during the day for spiritual renewal, whatever that may mean to you. I usually start my day with spiritual renewal.
10. Make time for exercise-Managing your own business can produce a great deal of stress. Exercising will help combat the stress. I attempt to build in walks throughout my day to give myself a break and to minimize the amount of stress I encounter. Joining a virtual exercise group such as on Fibit or MapMy Run can also help hold you accountable to daily exercise goals. #behealthy
11. Don't focus on what's not coming your way-Similar to dealing with closed doors, focusing on the contract that is not being approved fast enough or that one key relationship that you think will skyrocket your business will not be helpful and will produce negative energy. It will be important to channel your energy on things that are happening and any wins, big or small, that you experience in your business.
12. Every moment matters-As a small business owner, you have to be ever-mindful of how you spend your time. By asking the question, "Will this put money in my pocket?," can help you to determine if the task you are entertaining is worth your time. I recently heard a speaker state that unless the activity you are doing on Facebook is making you money then it is "Wastebook". I am not suggesting that you are to never spend time on social media or t.v. or any other activity where you are simply zoning out. I challenge you, however, to be strategic with your time and make certain each moment counts.
13. Fight discouragement during the waiting game-It can be downright frustrating to wait for responses to your proposals or requests for networking as well as receiving rejections during that process. Counter discouragement by keeping your goals at the forefront of your mind and relying on your accountability partners and support system for encouragement. You will need encouragement regularly so definitely make certain you have the right people in your corner. In terms of rejection, awhile ago my colleague Dethra U. Giles created a FB group called "The Rejection Project." Our task was to ask for things throughout our day where we would typically expect to receive a NO in response. The experience was liberating as I read others' stories and shared my own experiences of receiving a YES when I expected a NO. Each no gets you closer to a YES.
14. Watch simmering pots-I am not a cook nor a chef but as a new business owner, I have become adept at watching simmering pots which is a phrase my coach, Monica McCoy, likes to use. You will have a business deal percolating over here, and one over there and one in the works over there-all simmering pots that you are waiting to boil over into successful closed deals. Watch and wait!
15. Don't entertain negative energy-Recently, I had an unfortunate experience of being blocked by an individual I had just met on LinkedIn. I won't bore you with the gory details but I found myself brooding over the incident attempting to identify what went wrong. Then I realized I was putting forth way too much effort on a situation that may have been a blessing in disguise. It is important to recognize energy drainers and to remove yourself from that energy immediately. It is a waste of your now very precious time and not where your efforts should be.
16. Circumstances can make you lose focus-Depending on your personal situation, your business may be your only or main source of income and the contract procurement process can make you lose your mind. I will certainly admit that there have been times where I second-guessed my decision to launch out and wondered if I would fail miserably. It is at those times that I recognized the negative thoughts going through my mind, STOPPED the thoughts, and changed my focus. As my mentor Tom Darrow stated during the night of our launch party, that if we fail, we will fail forward. #focus
17. Create your own water cooler environment or holiday gathering-After years of being in the office, it is very different to now only have my family members around me for the majority of my day. Admittedly, I had grown accustomed to the occasional conversation that would occur near the water cooler at work or even the holiday party where everyone brought in a covered dish. I discovered that working at places such as the library, Starbucks or McDonald's offered the limited social exposure I sought. If your business is a home-based business, it is good to get out among the living every now and then. :-)
18. Marketing plan- I have been fortunate to participate in a business class that is offered through my church. The Bronner Business Institute (BBI) has helped me tremendously with identifying and creating a marketing plan, understanding my customers and positioning myself for success in the market as well as a host of other business-related skills. If you have been fortunate to take business classes throughout your career, awesome! If not, I highly recommend getting connected to a business class to further support your efforts.
19. Don't wait for others to create opportunities for you-Waiting for return phone calls and emails can be daunting. While waiting, think of ways to create your own opportunities for business, whether that means hosting a webinar, offering your product in a unique way to a target audience or collaborating with another colleague in your field/industry to further your business. You will be amazed at how creative you can become.
20. Make the decision, focus, enjoy the journey-Enjoy the natural excitement that comes with owning your own business. There is no other feeling like it in terms of the freedom it brings even if it is like riding a roller coaster. #scarybutfun
Shatanese is the owner of Super Extra Ordinary Mom, LLC, a HR Consultancy that delivers leadership and development training with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
Shatanese resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese's goal is to encourage others to find the extraordinary in every day moments.
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