How to get started on your business?

As was published in an entrepreneurship series for Future Females in 2018.

If you are asking yourself this question, I can tell you that you have already done so. Something has caught your attention and you can’t let it go. When you think about it, you feel butterflies in your stomach. You can imagine your future self running a successful business around just that. In other words, if you’re wondering how, that means you’ve already decided to start that business. Good for you!

Quote: from idea to reality, that's what it's all about

“From idea to reality, that’s what it’s all about” is something I live by. Those words are on my company website and on my office wall, and every time I read them, I get excited. When you start with an idea in your head, you begin to explore and expand. Slowly you start to fill in the details, you find people to create something with, and before you know it, the idea starts to manifest. That journey of making something, creating something, is exhilarating. And I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that this is what life is all about.

I love it so much that I started my own business to do just that! I help environmental entrepreneurs and cleantech companies bring their ideas to life. I’ve had this wonderful experience with so many clients now, but it never gets old. The journey is never the same and the learning never stops. When you start your business, you will soon learn that it is a continuous journey of learning, growing, meeting new people, frustration, failure and success (not necessarily in that order). Every step you take will prove to be important. And while it may not always seem like it, all steps are in the forward direction, I promise.

Becoming an entrepreneur is in large part about willingness. Remember, you’ve already decided to start your business. That means you’re ready to get started. Now take further steps and maintain that readiness. When you start a business, you will be faced with so many things that you cannot possibly anticipate. Don’t shut down or give up when things get tough. Because I can tell you upfront that it’s going to be tough. The key is to be willing to face all of these things with an open mind, an open heart, and open arms when they arise. Be willing to learn and allow for personal growth.

Insecurities


In the beginning, you may experience a lot of uncertainties. You’re still working on your business concept. You’re trying to narrow it down, doing research, looking for feedback from your peers. But you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, maybe you feel like you’re drifting away from your original idea thanks to all the well-intentioned advice you’ve been getting.

It’s important to do your homework, know your market and have a good pitch. That said, I would say this is the next phase for your business. Decide on your idea first, be confident, and then I’ll move on to the next phase. This second phase is not meant to verify your idea. It’s meant to grow it.

Or you’re stuck because you can’t decide which of your 100 ideas to try. Just pick one, really. Starting a business is much less about the idea and much more about the execution. Or in the words of Dell founder Michael Dell, “Ideas are a commodity, their execution is not.” This means that the crucial phase begins after you have decided on your business concept. The next phase, as your concept grows, is much more important.

What these two examples tell you is not to overthink the initial idea. I understand that you want to know if you have a good idea. But you won’t get the answer by analyzing all the industry reports twice or asking everyone you know if they think it’s a good idea. Your answer lies in the unfolding of your business and that requires patience. You just have to start, work hard, and enjoy the ride. At some point, when you know whether your idea was good or not: you either have a successful business or a great story to tell. There is no losing in this game.

One more thing about choosing your business: passion. Probably the most overheard word in business articles, I know. But you need to realize that your business becomes your life – or vice versa. It’s best to choose an industry, service or product that really speaks to you.

Structure – Structure – Structure

We’ve established that you’ve already started your business. You’ve been wondering how to get started, but it’s clear that you’ve already taken some very crucial first steps by sifting through all the initial choices and deciding on your idea with great excitement and zeal. However, you feel like your business is still an idea and you’re just now getting started. Get out of your head and into the real world.

At Minimal Mass, we collaborate to develop new business concepts that contribute to Green Economy and provide education and inspiration for environmental entrepreneurship in our online communities. Basically, I help entrepreneurs build structures. We create a roadmap or recipe for them to follow. Depending on the stage and need of their business, we start with either structuring their idea, expanding their business strategy, or developing a fertile atmosphere of mentors, partners, customers. And from there, we know what steps to take on the way to the envisioned goal.

Setting up a structure like this makes your idea manageable and helps you move from idea to action. You know what things you need to do, what people you need to contact, etc. Basically, you translate your idea into an action plan.

This plan is never set in stone, and you will constantly be working on the plan as you work on your business. Pivot, pivot, pivot. And the more experience you have, the easier it gets. What really helps is to be flexible. Don’t get stuck in one direction or get too frustrated. Just switch around and keep going. Try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else. Remember you don’t know everything, you learn along the way.

Business bliss

Too much thinking can slow you down. Get into action mode. Get moving. Certainly it will not be a straight line you will be on. You will run into dead ends, take detours. Trust that this is all part of it. You don’t need to survey the whole journey. Just start taking steps. You will get there. And enjoy moving towards your goals. The true bliss of business is between your idea and the mega-success you want to make of it. Be there when it starts.

If you have your heart set on Green Economy, feel free to contact me directly or via Future Females if you need help implementing turning your idea into reality.

Marleen Mulder asking: who's supporting you on your entrepreneurial journey?

Keep Moving 1:1 accountability sessions for entrepreneurs

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