So you have a brilliant business idea but you are afraid if you talk about it, someone will steal your idea, right? Listen CAREFULLY! Do NOT keep your business a secret. Even if someone hears your idea and decides to “copy” it, they aren’t going to do it the way you would and you are doing yourself a great disservice to not broadcast your idea to everyone you know.
******Exception- If you have family or friends who think starting your own business is too risky-they don’t understand so they could be well-meaning dream killers.***********
Aside from those naysayers, share your dream with everyone. Friends, neighbors, strangers in line at the post office, your seat mate on the subway. Here’s why:
Even if you have a pretty good idea how to do what you want to do, there’s still a lot you don’t know that someone out there does and can help you with. You will find people who want to help you in the most unlikely places. The woman seated next to you on a plane may have a brother who can make the prototype for your new invention. Your bank teller may be best friends with someone who needs your new service and can be your first client. Your son’s pre-school teacher’s next door neighbor may have a complimentary business and would be a great source of information and collaboration for you.
Isolation is another reason it’s a big mistake to keep your idea to yourself. When you don’t have other entrepreneurial friends to discuss your ideas with, it’s easy to begin doubting yourself and your dreams. Particularly if you’ve been an employee all your working life, you may begin to lose confidence in your ability to create a successful business on your own. Having a mastermind group or mentor will help get a measure on the viability of your plan.
Don’t be afraid to share your dreams and ask questions. Seek out existing businesses that are similar to yours and ask the owners questions. You may worry that they will see you as competition but you’ll be surprised how helpful they will be.
Keeping your business idea a secret is one of the biggest mistakes you can make so talk about it like you would if you were expecting your first grandchild. Be proud, be excited and be open to all the suggestions, advise and enthusiasm you will attract.
Recently I polled some of my readers who say they want to start a business but haven’t begun. Here are the things they cited as their biggest obstacles. The results may surprise you.
- Lack of Support from Friends and Family
- Not sure Where to Begin
- Concern about Isolation
- Legal and Business Structure Questions
- Health Insurance and other Benefits
- Lack of Record Keeping Knowledge
- Technical Overwhelm
- Lack of Start-up Capital
The list itself didn’t surprise me. What did was the percentage of people who responded that lack of support was one of the biggest barriers for them in starting their own business. Because I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and have always surrounded myself with other business owners, I sometimes forget how many people have no one to bounce ideas around with. I forget that most of you have people in your lives who actually fear self-employment and think they are protecting you from risk by squashing your dreams.
It’s no wonder you’re having trouble getting started launching your dream business if you don’t have a tribe of entrepreneurial friends to support you and help you stay motivated.
Because so many of you have expressed a need for start-up guidance and on-going support, Barbara Winter and I are offering our “Obstacle Buster Mastermind” workshop again in May.
This is your opportunity to bring all your concerns, questions and roadblocks to an intimate group of entrepreneurs who will help you bust through the roadblocks that have been holding you back from finally starting your business.
Read what attendees of our last Obstacle Buster Workshop had to say HERE
FYI-I’ve addressed all of the above concerns on this blog in the “Start-Up Now” category.
Working from home has many advantages but it can also be a challenge if you aren’t careful to maintain discipline. It’s easy to lose focus and get sidetracked with domestic chores, personal errands and interruptions from family and friends.
Here are some tips to help you stay on track when working from home:
- Designate one area in your home as your work space. Even if you don’t have a separate room for your office, pick a corner to work in and don’t use that space for anything else. Keep all of your files and supplies in that one place. Not only will you be more organized and productive but your mindset changes when you know “this is where I work”.
- Make it clear to family and friends that you are not available to chat during work hours. Those who don’t work from home have trouble understanding that just because you are not “at work” you are working and you need to remind them that you do have “a job” even if it’s home-based.
- While working from home allows you some flexibility, you will be more productive if you make a work schedule and stick with it. Particularly if you are prone to procrastinate, it’s vital that you chart your tasks. If you aren’t sure how to organize your time, start keeping a journal of what you do each day. This will enable you to look back and evaluate how you are spending your time.
- Delegate. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Do the work you are best at and enjoy. You will be overwhelmed if you try to do it all and you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels. Outsource the tasks that you don’t want to do yourself. You may think you can’t afford it but by focusing on the areas you do best, you will make more money because you will be more productive.
- Get out of the house for a bit every day. Working at home can be lonely. Schedule lunch dates with other entrepreneurs. You’ll avoid the feeling of isolation and enjoy the stimulation of conversation with work-at-home friends.
- Join a mastermind group. Having regular meetings in person or by phone will keep you accountable, inspired and motivated to reach your goals.
I’d love to hear about what challenges have you found in working from home. As always, you are invited and encouraged to comment below.
What is all this talk about “work-life balance” anyway? If you are a corporate employee who spends your days dreaming of the weekend, OK-I get it-you’re stuck. Or you’re holding onto that JOB because you need the income while you start-up your dream livelihood, kudos to you. But the self-employed seeking work-life balance? I don’t understand it. Here’s why: if you are feeling like all you do is work and you need to find more time for fun, YOU ARE IN THE WRONG BUSINESS. Period.
Once, only once, in my decades of self-employment, did I consciously dream of time off. I justified intense times of stress and long hours in business with the knowledge that my work was footing the bill for frequent lavish vacations. But you know what? That level of work/play balance was not sustainable. Because my heart wasn’t deeply connected to the greater purpose in my business. There wasn’t enough personal meaning in what I was doing to keep me fully engaged.
Are you feeling that way? I’m not talking about taking enough time off. If you have to tell yourself to keep your office door closed on the weekend and not take work on vacation, then the truth you must face is YOU ARE IN THE WRONG BUSINESS.
Sure, if you aren’t making time for your fitness routine or you’re gobbling fast food at your desk, you do need to re-think your time management. But if you spend all your at-home hours holed up in your office and ignore your family, it isn’t work-life balance you need to address. It’s work-love balance because if you are truly, completely in love with your business and you are in your right livelihood, you engage your family and your enthusiasm is contagious.
Do your kids know what you do for a living? Do they talk about it with their friends?
Do you talk about your work at social and family gatherings?
Do you find yourself on vacation coming up with ideas for your business? Or taking field trips to other businesses that inspire you?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then you are likely in your right livelihood but if you find yourself disappointed when it’s time to get back to work, it’s time to do some serious soul searching about what your business means to you.
Is your business just about making a living or are you making a difference? Do you feel connected to a deep purpose in your business? Or are you searching for more meaning?
As always, you are invited and encouraged to share your experience, thoughts and opinions below.
What do you do when your business is making money but not feeding your soul? Are you feeling confused because the business you’ve spent time building suddenly feels like “not enough”? Like you need to find more meaning and purpose in your business? If so, before you throw out “the baby with the bath water’ (sorry for the cliche), consider how you can add an element of purpose or social good to your existing business.
I love to help entrepreneurs design a business based on their values and purpose. Starting with a clear mission is in some ways easier but there are advantages to already having a profitable business and then finding the deeper meaning. You have the confidence that you know how to make money so that piece is out of the way. It does, however, take a lot of hard work to tweak your mindset from strictly a positive net profit to the multiple bottom line of a social enterprise. So, how do you transition your for-profit business to a mission driven venture?
First, know that you do not have to change the business entity to a non-profit. You absolutely can make money and make a difference.
Let’s look at a few examples from big businesses that made the transition to ideal-driven. Dove, the soap manufacturer, has made a big part of their mission to improve the self-esteem of girls. Instead of using the tried and true stereotypical thin girls in their ads, they are using models of all body types to show that beauty doesn’t look just one way. Paint company Akzo Nobel is now focused on using more sustainable packaging and speaks to enriching people’s lives through color. We are seeing a trend in business to stress environmental or sustainable benefits but it has to be authentic, not some marketing trick or ‘green-washing’.
The best place to start when trying to create more meaning in your existing business is to ask yourself a few key questions. What is the passion behind my company? Why does it exist? What can my business contribute to my customers and society? How can I realize this ideal at customer and society level?
As always, you are invited to comment below. I would love to know what it would take to make you fall in love with your business again.