We’re now into the third week of the new year, a time when many entrepreneurs find they are beginning to drift off course regardless of honest intentions.
Maybe you resolved to post on your blog more frequently or publish a monthly newsletter. Perhaps your plan is to finish your e-book by mid year but you’ve only written one chapter. Or, you vowed to get your work into 6 galleries. You’ve made a list of those you want to contact. When you searched their websites, you began to wonder if your work would sell and got sidetracked creating a line that might better fit those galleries.
If you are already slipping off course, you aren’t alone. Just look at the gym signups and how the crowds thinned out already.
For entrepreneurs, it doesn’t appear to be a problem of motivation. Judging by the comments I get from people who truly want to commit to launching or growing a business, it’s more the challenge to remain focused. If you are committed to accomplishing your business goals this year, I recommend you:
- Limit the number of short term goals. If you are like many creative people, you may have trouble accomplishing your business goals because you are easily sidetracked by new ideas. This is a huge challenge for me as well. I find it helpful to narrow my big goals to three at a time. When new ideas rush in and clamor for my attention, I remind myself that if I try to do too much, I won’t get anything done well. I commit to seeing three through to completion before I will address the others. If you do this, make a note of the ideas as they come to you and file them under “brilliant things I will do when I can give them the attention they deserve.”
- Get clarity on the reason your goals matter. What is the feeling you want to experience when you have accomplished each goal? What difference will it make in your life, the community or the world? Write out your “why” in detail and review it often.
- Create a vision board for your goals and post it where you see it daily. There’s something powerful about a physical image that helps reinforce the importance of your goal. It doesn’t have to be a work of art. Just make sure you have a vivid picture of what those goals accomplished will look and feel like.
- Celebrate small accomplishments. Those first baby steps toward your goals can be the hardest. Take note of milestones and celebrate them. Maybe you’ve made a list of a dozen galleries or shops you hope will feature your work. Once you’ve contacted the first four, congratulate yourself and honor the accomplishment. Have lunch with a friend or take a picnic to the park. Make it celebratory in a way that’s meaningful to you.
- At least in the beginning, stick to a schedule. To-do lists are fine but it’s easy to keep putting off items on the list. Instead, schedule certain days or times of day to do specific tasks toward your goal. If you know you want to publish a monthly newsletter, schedule a day each week that you work on it. If you know you want to post on your blog 3 times a week, make writing appointments on your calendar. I’m not advocating rigidity. You don’t have to schedule your tasks for 8-5 Monday through Friday. One of the perks of self-employment is being able to work around your own body rhythm so if you write best in the middle of the night, mark your calendar to write at 2 AM Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Then if something comes up that you want to do, adjust your schedule for one night. It’s OK to stay flexible. Just be accountable.
- Join a mastermind group or find an accountability buddy. In addition to the support, sharing of resources and idea generation, a mastermind group will give you a sense of accountability. When you know you have a phone conference scheduled every Wednesday at noon, you are more likely to stay on course to meet your goals for the week. You will feel a responsibility to your group so you will be sure to have accomplishments to report. Also, when you confront an obstacle that discourages you from moving forward towards your goal, you will have a team to help you overcome whatever the challenge is and get back on track.
I’m getting excited about the workshop that Barbara Winter and I will be facilitating next weekend in Las Vegas. The attendees have some phenomenal business ideas and we’ll be working through what’s been holding them back so they can make those dreams happen now.
I’ve heard from a several aspiring entrepreneurs who said they wanted to join us but had scheduling conflicts. They all said the same thing. “I have this great business idea but don’t know where to get started.”
Here are a few tips to help you begin working on your dream business.
- Research people who have already done what you want to do or something similar.
Read their blogs, study their websites, listen to podcasts and read books by people who are doing what you want to do. Not so that you can mimmic them but so that you can learn from their journey and do your own version and share your unique gifts.
- Talk to people who have been successful at what you are trying to do or something like it. Ask what mistakes they made in the beginning and what they learned in the process. Most entrepreneurs love to share. We don’t see start-ups as competition but complimentary. When I meet a new self-employment guide, I take note of what qualities they possess that I do not and will frequently refer a client to someone who I think might be a better fit. By connecting with someone who has already done what you want to do, you may not only gain a mentor but a friend who you can do some co-operative projects with as well.
- Don’t let the things you don’t know how to do keep you from beginning. A smart entrepreneur admits what she doesn’t know and recognizes that learning is a life-long pursuit. You can always outsource or barter the skills you lack or don’t enjoy performing.
Or partner with someone who has complimentary gifts.
- Hire a coach or consultant to guide you. Be careful to find someone who has had their own business, not someone who was trained as a business coach but never started a business. Don’t worry about certification. What matters is that they have learned by doing and can share their experience with you.
- Attend seminars or workshops with other entrepreneurs. You’ll learn from the facilitators and the other attendees will share resources and valuable insight with you. You’ll find your tribe and source of ongoing support. (We still have a couple of spaces left. Find out more HERE.)
- Start with baby steps. Even if your dream is big, start small. I’m not an advocate of the 5-year plan because I believe your business will evolve in ways you can’t even imagine now. It’s great to have a vision of the big goal but it’s easiest to make it happen by taking small steps every day.
What first small step can you take today to move forward toward your dream business?
Yesterday, I read an article about how to work more productively, stay focused and avoid distractions of working from home. A few of the tips were helpful, such as “get an accountability partner” and “leave the house”. This and other articles talk about disadvantages of working from home and I realized I’d never written an article on the benefits of working from “home”. So
9 Reasons I Love Working from Home
- My home office is my laptop so “home” is wherever I want to be. If my home office starts to feel confining, I get in my van, set up my portable desk and work by the beach.
- I’m able to eat nutritious lunches and honor my grazing with frequent little fresh snacks. Sometimes I have a picnic lunch.
- My (four-legged) co-workers are always enthusiastic listeners and encourage my big dreams and great ideas.
- I can schedule my break times for low tide.
- I have total control of the environment: temperature, music, lighting
- I can choose to run errands while everyone else is at work and work while they are fighting crowds and traffic. Same goes for the gym, bank, post office, movie theaters and restaurants. I can do those things while the crowd is at work and work at home while the crowd is at the gym, bank, post office and market.
- If my family or friends need me, I can be there for them and work from a hospital waiting room, airport or mountain top.
- My socks don’t have to match. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have to wear socks.
- I don’t have to take off work to schedule repairs and deliveries. I can throw in a load of laundry or start a pot of soup in the middle of the day. When others are spending their off-time doing household chores, I’m playing.
Do these things pull me away from my work? Not at all. When people complain about the distractions of working at home, I think they must not love what they do because when you’re in your element, you are 100% present.
What are some of the advantages you find in working from home? If you haven’t started your small business yet, what benefits of working from home are you looking forward to?
Do you have so many ideas for starting a new business that you have trouble focusing on any of them?
Do you have so many ideas that you have trouble focusing on any of them? If so, you have a lot of creative company. This past week, I’ve spoken with each of the attendees of the upcoming Inspired Livelihood Obstacle Busting Mastermind.
Every one of them had more than one idea, some had many.
“I have too many ideas” is a common complaint of creative entrepreneurs. Being an idea generator is a gift but it can have you running in place if you aren’t able to effectively launch any of them because you are too scattered. It is absolutely possible to run several businesses successfully but just like juggling oranges, you have to start with what you can handle and add more as your confidence and competence grow.
I helped each of the attendees choose one idea to start with and we focused on fine tuning the vision of what that one business will look like. When they show up at the workshop in Las Vegas, we will focus on making that one idea a viable business. Once that business is running and they are seeing profit, it will be easier to launch the next idea, and the next. It’s kind of like when you have a baby. You give that first your undivided attention. Then, when that first child is a couple of years old and you’ve kind of got the hang of that parenting thing, you’re more able to parent a second. Maybe add a few more? Imagine if you gave birth to all your children at once? You’d be like the old woman in the shoe, right? Well just like kids, you shouldn’t launch all your ideas at the same time.
If you’ve been sitting on a few projects or business ideas for awhile and haven’t been able to make any of them profitable, you are probably suffering from “refusal to choose” syndrome. But you know what? You did choose. By choosing to try to do them all, you’ve chosen to dilute your energy and get nothing done, right?
I know this first hand because the last several months, I’ve been thinking about several new businesses I want to launch. I’ve done research and some initial steps on all of them but mostly been ineffective moving forward with any of them because my attention was too scattered.
Then a few weeks ago, I realized something. If three months ago, I had chosen to focus on just one new project, I’d now have it successfully launched and be starting on the next. Instead, I haven’t launched any of them.
If you’ve been sitting on several ideas for the past year and feel frustrated because you’ve launched none, I’d like to offer you a challenge. Give yourself permission to put all but one on the back burner. Not forever. Just right now while you get that first one crystal clear and moving forward. Try it for three months. Remember, you aren’t neglecting the other ideas. You are just giving each idea the attention it deserves. Once that’s rolling, spend three months on your next idea. Imagine where you’ll be at the end of the year if you do that. You’ll have launched four new ideas successfully.
Do you need some guidance and support birthing that first idea? If so, check out what Barbara Winter, best selling author of “Making a Living without a Job” and I are doing to help a small group of aspiring entrepreneurs break through the barriers and start their dream businesses NOW. Find out more HERE
Is your dream too tidy? When you sit down to plan out your next business moves or other creative project, do you work on your laptop or a legal pad? You could be limiting the scope of your imagination or stifling creativity by trying to fit a big idea into an 8.5 X 11 inch space.
The past few days, I’ve been chatting with attendees of the upcoming Inspired Livelihood Obstacle Busting Mastermind. The purpose of the pre-workshop call is to help them gain clarity on their idea so that when they arrive in Las Vegas we will focus on how to make it happen.
As I listen to all these exciting ideas, my possibility cogs spin and I realize how we limit our dreams by confining them to the size of our desktops. That may work if you are a linear thinker but a lot of us, particularly artists, think in more dimensions and need to give our dreams room to grow.
If you have an idea for a project and want to get crystal clear on what shape it will take, try this:
- Get several pieces of poster size paper or a roll of craft or butcher paper and some markers. NO erasable pencils because for this exercise, there’s no such thing as a mistake.
- Spread them out on the floor rather than a desk. (If you can’t get down on the floor, use a large table but let the papers overlap so that you KNOW you are not limited to the size of the table.
- In the center of the paper, write your topic or project name. (This doesn’t have to be the permanent name.)
- Then jot down a word or symbol for everything you think of. At this point, it doesn’t matter where on the paper-When one idea sparks another, record it somewhere near that-just get it down-quickly. Don’t analyze it.
- Don’t worry right now about the order or whether or not you even know how to do whatever idea pops into your mind. This is about “WHAT IT IS” not how to do it. (that comes later.)
Nothing you do in this first exercise is a commitment. These are just random thoughts and ideas.
I suggest you say to yourself, “If this business (or project) could be anything I wanted and I didn’t have to think about whether or not I have the knowledge or resources to do it, what would it look like?” This is the dream stage. Don’t try to be realistic or worry about if you could sell this idea or the logistics. Just get your ideas down.
If you get near an edge of the first piece of paper, tape another piece to it. Don’t limit yourself to what fits on the paper. Even if you have to go out the room, down the hall and through the front door, make sure you don’t let running out of space on the paper stop you.
You’ll be amazed at how your ideas will expand into the space they are given.
If you have a BIG idea but don’t know where to begin to make it happen, there are still a few spaces left in the upcoming Mastermind in Las Vegas. Join Barbara Winter and me as we guide a small group of creative entrepreneurs through the obstacles to make their dreams into a viable business. HERE’S THE SCOOP
Do you have an idea that you keep putting off until “someday”, feeling that the time isn’t right, you aren’t sure how to go about it or if it would make money? I have lots of these that sit on the back burner. Some, I pull out, recognize that it isn’t the ideal time and I pop back in the “later” file. Others, I revisit, evaluate and determine that the profit potential isn’t enough to spend time on or that my passion for the project has dwindled. Then there are ideas that just won’t stop coming back to me. Even when I am immersed in another project, they continually pop up and beg for my attention. I call those “boomerang” ideas. Barbara Winter calls them “neglected ideas”.
If you have an idea, however vague, that keeps popping back up no matter how deep you bury it, it’s probably worth your time to finally take it seriously.
While I never make a major business decision without weighing it intellectually with facts and figures, I am a true believer in tuning into the subconscious. When an idea returns even after I have dismissed it, I know it’s time to give it serious consideration.
Because boomerang ideas can be pesky for a reason, Barbara Winter and I have planned something we’ve never done before. We’ve reserved a suite in Las Vegas to sit down with a select group of aspiring entrepreneurs and bring those neglected ideas to what I call the “possibility circle”. That means you put your concept out there and we all put our “problem solver” hats on to bust through the obstacles and create a viable business.
This won’t be a lecture and it isn’t for you if you are looking for a “what do I want to do when I grow up” seminar. It will be a hands-on, hats-on how-to-make-it happen NOW workshop. If you’ve been sitting on an idea that won’t leave you alone until you do it, if you are ready to roll up your sleeves, dig in to the details and bring it to life, click HERE to learn more about how you can be part of this powerful mastermind. And if you do it NOW, you’re still in time for a pre-workshop phone consult with me. Here’s how you can join the circle.