How to cope with the blob

Before Thoughtful was anything else, it was a blob in my head. A big, beautiful blob.

In my mind, it was reasonably clear what I wanted this business to do. I knew what I wanted to achieve, and how I would go about doing it. But whenever I had to put the idea into words to explain it to others, things got mixed up.

Nice person: “I hear you’re starting a business. How interesting! What is it?”

Me: “Well, erm…”

Then I dumped the blob on this nice person — a mass of carefully crafted expressions mixed in with plenty of vague, unfinished phrases. This was met with, at best, a polite “Oh.” At worst, a blank, baffled stare.

Did they not see how beautiful my blob was? Was it too blobby?

This was frustrating and worrying. And, apparently, totally normal.

When you’re starting something new, especially when it’s not something most people know, like a restaurant or video game, it’s hard to put into words.

In the year since Thoughtful went from a side project to a full-grown business, I’ve tossed lots of things into the blob, and taken loads out. Through terrifying trial and embarrassing error, I’ve learned which bits go together to form something sensible, attractive even.

But the most basic bits don’t change. Years ago, before Thoughtful was even called Thoughtful, I wrote down the vision for it on a scrap of paper while waiting in a queue at the bank.

Almost word for word, that vision has stayed the same. But how I achieve it has changed, and will continue to evolve, in word and in deed. Call it pivoting, tweaking… it happens to the best of us.

It’s brutal when you’re explaining your own beloved idea to someone and not quite hitting the mark. But it’s inevitable and important. On the web site, in the business plan, at the dinner party… each is a chance to shape the words and ideas until they’re less blobby. And that’s a blessing for me as much as anyone else.

Part of A Thoughtful Diary, thoughts on what it’s really like to start a business — the good, the bad and the in between — as it happens.

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