“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
Back in 2007, there I was, sketching on my notepad how my shop would look like. The design of the right chairs, the fit-out of the dining space, the spiral staircase taking you to that cozy eating area after you ordered and grabbed your tray packed with fresh juice, frozen fruit sorbets, nutty trail mixes, sandwiches, and salads. The bright colors on the shelves and freezers, shouting eat me I’m fresh! There I was, drafting and dreaming, creating my dream shop, rather than creating a plan to run my business. I went on to hire the architect, chose my suppliers, then on to recruiting my team, and so on, I thought every bit of it (the business) will fall into place.
The opening day was a big party, literally on the streets, because we couldn’t accommodate so many people in my tiny shop. I could have claimed this to have been the best day of my life back then, but no so fast. One day I biked to my shop at 7:00 am, like any other day, only this one day I found a cross made out of yellow and black police strips posted across the shop’s door. It felt like in the movies, and as I approached the door, in beautiful Mandarin characters I read, “you’ve been penalized by the Ministry of Sanitation, please contact this person at this address”. My heart pounding, I knew I had a problem to sort out that morning, so 20 minutes later, there I was in the hall of this gray block looking building asking for Mr. Wu, and indeed, it was real, someone went to fetch him. Mr. Wu nicely explained that the nature of my business (written on my business license) wasn’t in order because I was missing the word “fresh” in the description. For real, one word? You’ve got to be kidding me! Then again it was no joke, it took 10 days to reissue my license, and to be able to re-open my shop. Indeed, I learned a few things in business back then, would you like me to share a few? Otherwise, the list could be too long.
My biggest lesson in business to date is that mistakes aren’t bad, they are lessons, that’s it! However, I’m in favor of avoiding them if possible by having these 7 tips to a less bumpy business ride, from the very beginning:
Model an existing business, not copy someone else copyright - that’s a big no-no but try not to re-invent the wheel if you’re brand new in your industry. When it comes to business it’s always best to study the market and create that that is on-demand, rather than invent what you wish to see existing in the market and has no demand yet. It’s much easier to improve and excel upon an existing offer and delight your newly acquired customers because they already have a point of comparison, rather than you having to teach-demonstrate-earn trust-deliver and delight. I know it’s a tough one to digest!
Set clear goals, right from the start. A clear plan gives confidence, that way you keep at bay the fear of the unknown as you are treading waters in a new terrain as a new business owner. Having a clear plan will also keep stress under control because once you’ve got your steps traced you’ll see there is room to maneuver the unexpected and the improvised as you go.
Have trusted clear guidance. When you’ve got a clear plan, and this plan then is endorsed by a trusted mentor, you gain speed and momentum; both crucial to achieving results in the beginning stages of your business. Relying on outside support helps to constantly have a third party, ideally, one with experience in business, keep an eye on your development and call upon that which needs correction or enhancement on time.
Set clear boundaries on your time. At the beginning of our business, we tend to over-do and stretch ourselves further than our human capacity with the mantra “I’ve got to do it”. That justification doesn’t honor your brilliance, on the contrary, diminishes the fact that you should only be focused on doing that that you’re excellent at, the rest delegate to the experts in those matters. When you try to do it all by yourself you run into doing the half, and perhaps losing quality along the way. When we set healthy boundaries and match that up with clarity you start seeing tangible results.
Stay consistent. I’m the first one to raise the hand when it comes to constantly be chasing shiny objects. Are you too? It’s called the shiny object syndrome for a reason. My biggest lesson of all has been to focus on one thing at a time and stay consistent. That means, draft your plan and stay on crafting the ideas you first jot down, not pivoting weekly because you’ve posted once and nobody replied, or you called once and nobody answered, or you have seen them doing it and now you feel like testing that out too.
Integrity matters, as much as investing in yourself. We are the biggest fans of our creations and also the ones who sabotage ourselves the most. For example, after almost a decade of business experience, I came across clear signs that I had to evaluate my relationship with money, and guess what, by doing so I unblocked patterns that were there in disguise not allowing me to grow further. Also, think about it this way, out of integrity, why would you deny yourself of a service that you need when you are asking people to pay for your services. Some food for thought! Right?
Systems, systems, systems. Put systems in place from day 1 that will allow you to grow and focus as you grow in that next issue or task that will arise. Try not to procrastinate on the small tasks because these are the ones that accumulate and make you feel stress and anxious. When you chose a software based on the outcome you’d like to achieve, spend time and effort learning and launching it. Once it’s up and running it’s there to serve you so that you can then serve your clients and run your business.
So far, I’ve learned that finding the middle road between what your heart desires and what the market needs are key to your success and joy. There’s no right or wrong way to grow, however, once you find that one path of least resistance you’ll take off and nothing will stop you from then on.
And, if you’re ready to draft your clean plan, receive coaching support, and have an accountability network to accompany you in your business journey, then perhaps we should talk. To your success!
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