In the past two weeks I’ve had 4 conversations with people who are hating their j-o-b and dreaming of something else. When I asked them their dream, 3 out of 4 said “well, I’d love to do my own thing…start a business of some kind…I don’t even really care what. I’d just love to work for myself.”
Can you relate?
Well, I have good news.
We’re living at an unprecedented time. Never before has starting a profitable business been so quick, so inexpensive, and so scalable.
There’s a major shift happening in the world of work. I won’t even touch on the vanishment of the “security” working for a big corporation or government. My eyes will glaze over in boredom. On the other hand, my eyes will light up when I hear of someone carving out their own path.
And that’s the shift: it’s a brave new world of solopreneurism. More people are striking out on their own than ever before. They’re making a living, impacting others for good, and doing it all in a way to where their work serves their lives, not vice versa.
Listen: the sky is the limit when it comes to starting a business these days. Heck, you don’t even need the idea or the product. Just sell a product that’s already working.
Like my wife.
Last March, after a bit of thought and prayer, she entered the “direct sales” industry with a product that she believed in. I say “a bit” because it honestly wasn’t some huge decision. There really wasn’t even any risk. A few hundred bucks was the “startup cost.” We knew she’d merely need to show up to make that back.
I won’t even tell you the company, just so you don’t think I’m trying to sell you it, or whatever other crazy mistaken intention someone might make up for me.
My point, she did a little bit of basic research and took the plunge. She actually did something. She just didn’t think. She just didn’t wish or dream.
Many people were surprised. Julie isn’t the “direct sales” persona by any means. She had dabbled in another direct sales company before, but that was solely for the discount of the product (which, that’s a red flag in retrospect. Julie, if you’re reading this you should talk about this in another post). She could give two hoots for selling.
But this time it was different. I distinctly remember Julie telling saying: “If I do this, I’m doing it to make money.” Translation: this isn’t a hobby. It’s not a way to get a discount. It’s a business. Except, honestly, we didn’t call it a business at the time. After years of running traditional businesses, I was too snub to use the b-word, or the e-word. That’s yet another post.
By the way: Is “I’m doing it to make money” a good, noble, even God-honoring reason? Again…another post. Jeez I’m on a roll with post ideas today.
Onward: Why did Julie do this?
Well, she knew Payson would be going back to school and she’d have the opportunity to re-enter the traditional workforce, perhaps as a teacher again, OR perhaps something else.
Perhaps I’ve rubbed off on her a bit ;), but I distinctly remember her saying:
“If I can make even half of what I would as a teacher, but have the freedom from doing it on my own terms, I know which one I’d choose.”
And, knowing that it typically takes 2-5 years to develop an income-replacing business of any kind, she thought “maybe I should start now…by the time I’m to the point of teaching again, maybe this will prove to be a better option?”
Well, let me tell you one thing. She’s killing it. I honestly could lose a tear right now as I type this. I couldn’t be more proud. Nor inspired.
I can’t wait for her to write a post in another 2 years to report on where this simple decision has led her, and our family. And the lives of hundreds of others.
But my point, this is what it’s really like to start a business.
Starting a business is not about dreaming up some brilliant idea that no one has ever thought about before. It’s not about some elaborate business plan (a napkin’ll do for your business plan sketch). And it’s not about taking “some big leap of faith.”
Don’t get me wrong. To go full time in a business will to some extent be a “leap of faith” depending on…well, a lot of stuff. But starting a business? Absolutely not.
Starting a business doesn’t look like jumping off the cliff and faith opening the parachute on the way down. It looks like building a bridge. And not the Golden Gate Bridge, but rather one of those rickety rope and wood ones…just something to get you to the other side.
It looks like a mom in her living room with 3 kids who writes a few hundred dollar check to get started and sets her sight on One. Single. Sale.
Starting a business looks like an Average Joe with a day job and a wife and kids and a list of needs…but he gets up early in the morning to do something pretty non-flashy to try and move his little “side biz thingy” forward one more step.
Every business starts the same: one need is met in the form of one sale. Then two. Then three…. Oh so very ordinary.
In reality, starting a biz looks like someone winging it.
It looks that way because they are.
So why do most think that starting a business looks like some grand idea or some exceptional plan or some special talent or some leap of faith?
Because we often only see the middle-to-end result. The stage of success. And so we mistakenly think starting a biz looks mighty grand and genius. And we think: “I can’t do that…”
And if you’re seeing and saying that, you’re wrong. I say this politely and sincerely. Fact is, if you see the truth, you’ll realize you can do it too.
What you need to see are the thousands of hours that went on behind the scenes, early in the morning, late at night, all while holding the fort down with a day job. What you need to see is years of scratching and clawing and digging and barely skimping by.
What you need to see is the 5 years of persistent work before the “overnight success.”
Then you’ll realize that you can do it too.
When you realize that starting a business requires persistence more than anything else, you’ll see that you can do it too.
And even though it’s the hardest work you’ll ever do. It’s FUN work. The most fun work ever.
And even though it takes grit, there are resources out there that will help you get further, faster, than ever before.
Try a few of these out for size:
I might post again outlining these resources. For now, realize this is just 5 out of hundreds of folks willing to help you build your dream.
Whew….this is a long post. If you’ve made it this far, this must resonate with you. And to you, let me just say that I’m going to try and be a little bit braver. A little bit bolder. For you.
What I mean by that: we’re going to test steering some of the writing of ShuttlePad more towards this direction of helping other business owners. Particularly solopreneurs, as we see it as a great way to build a lifestyle of freedom and mission.
And yes, the space of “small biz coach” is intimidating to me. It’s outside of my comfort zone. But it’s a passion, and a growing need, especially for those with a certain worldview. But that’s another post.
So, are you like many of my friends? Do you dream of “doing something…anything…on my own terms.”
Well, would you do me a favor? Let me know. Simply comment below, or if you’d rather it remain private, send me an email. In fact, you’re getting this entire post via email if you’ve signed up for updates. Just reply to this email.
If you let us know, we’ll know if we’re onto something. If we don’t hear from anyone, well, nice post. But that’s what starting a biz looks like. It looks like throwing it out there.