What does starting a business really look like?
How starting a business is like a Greek myth
Hmmm, well, having got two months into this business, I’m going to use a little analogy.
You are standing blindfold at the start of a labyrinth holding a map written in Ancient Greek (which you can’t see anyway due to the blindfold).
The people outside are telling you not to go in.
“Just take the blindfold off and go back to the straight road you’ve always been on” they shout.
(I’m imagining them wearing togas for some reason, just continuing the very tenuous Ancient Greece/labyrinth metaphor).
“F*ck it,” you think. “I’m going in any way”.
And so you take the first steps forward and immediately get lost, rebounding off walls, turning one way, then the next, deeper into the labyrinth like a drunken zombie.
You have no idea whether there is actually a way out of this labyrinth, you may just end up back where you started.
But, you decide to try anyway.
Why it took me nearly a year to start my blog
I actually stood at the beginning of the business ‘labyrinth’ last June. Having quit my corporate job in May, I had a vague notion that I wanted to start a blog.
I kept entering the labyrinth and then turning around and running back out again (to watch Netflix but they didn’t have that in Ancient Greece so the equivalent was probably watching a brutal sports event involving leopards).
I had such a fear of the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybe’s that I just couldn’t even get started.
Having done some consultancy roles (between quitting and properly starting this blog), in December I finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to get on with it.
How I finally started and how you can make the decision to start your business too
It really was a ‘mindset’ thing that was preventing me from starting.
Once I decided to go ‘all-in’ I went for it.
That’s not to say everything has smoothly fallen into place.
I get a lot of things wrong and it involves trial and error but the point is, I’ve made the commitment to myself so I just keep going.
Make a commitment to start
There has to be a point where you decided to go for it.
Come hell or high water, you are going to go at this thing like a bull (or minotaur) at a gate until it works.
It really doesn’t matter what the catalyst is (a quote on Instagram, an off-the-cuff comment from someone, or the thought of you sitting in your nursing home in 50 years regretting that you never had your own business), you just need to decide to go all in.
Invest in the business
This doesn’t have to be monetary, you could be investing in your business with your time.
The thing that got me started was to invest in a course on setting up a blog.
I am not techy and hadn’t written for years so setting up a blog on an actual website was incredibly daunting.
After a lot of hunting around and research, I found the one I wanted.
The investment was low (ish) at $97. I knew it would get me started as there were step-by-step lessons to follow so I would at least have a rope to follow down the labyrinth (okay, enough with the dodgy Greek analogies now!).
As I said, the investment doesn’t have to involve money, but it needs to involve a commitment of some kind.
Take the time to look after yourself
If you’ve had the job from hell, you are going to need a break after you leave.
Make sure you have an ‘escape fund’ when you quit so that you can take the time for a little ‘self-care’ (as everyone seems to be calling it on Pinterest).
Whether this is sleep, drawing, writing, going to the cinema, or whatever makes you happy. Just make sure you take the time for yourself.
It’s very easy to underestimate the impact long hours in a stressful job have on your mind and body.
Know it isn’t a linear thing
If you think that starting your business has to mean you have all the answers, you will never start.
I actually started a personal finance blog. After setting up the entire website, writing around 10 posts and investing a huge amount of time in it, I decided I wasn’t feeling it. So I changed the blog to IWMLBproject and scrapped most of what I had already done.
If you have an idea of what business you want to start, just begin, and see where it leads you.
There is a very interesting podcast called How I built it by Guy Raz.
He interviews the founders of huge brands like Kate Spade and Dermalogica about their journey and how they started.
Without exception, each brand started off as something else.
Kate Spade started as handbags and then branched into accessories, clothes, and shoes. Dermalogica started off as a skin care training academy and then into making skin care products.
Don’t try and second guess everything before you start, just let it flow naturally and see where it leads you.
Once you finally decide to start, just trust that you will figure it out as you go along.
There is no right answer, one singular path or one route out of the labyrinth (sorry, that’s the last one).
Making mistakes isn’t this awful experience that will only happen to you. It’s happened to anyone who did anything ever.
Just keeping putting one foot in front of the other and you will get there. Wherever ‘there’ is!