This post was originally published on Unsettle.org
It’s crazy-making, isn’t it?
You want to start a lifestyle business to achieve freedom and flexibility.
But you’re at a loss. You think you don’t know where to start.
So instead of making progress, you continue to stagnate.
And every moment that passes is lost time, pushing your goal further from reality.
The Truth About Where to Start
Want to know the truth about where to start?
It might sound a bit crazy right now, but hear me out.
The truth is, you do know where to start.
You know at least a few actions you could take to move you closer to your goal. A few actions that would help you start your business. A few tiny things you could do get the ball rolling.
But they don’t seem significant. So instead of taking those tiny steps, you get caught up in the things that don’t matter right now.
You’re worrying about how to start making $10,000/month when you haven’t even thought of your idea. Or where to start finding customers, when you haven’t build a product yet.
You might not even know you’re putting the cart before the horse, but the truth is, before you can get from point A to point B, you need to just need to get to point A, first.
So even if those small steps seem insignificant, they are the answer to the age-old question “where do I start?”.
Those steps, those bricks that you lay now, no matter how small, will help you build your path, because of three components:
- Determination – fuelled by a desire to make something for yourself and the determination to finish, you’ll continue to build.
- Momentum – once you start, you nudge the ball. If you start small enough, it will continue to roll.
- Small wins – small wins are motivating. Being at the bottom of a big mountain you are supposed to scale is not. Setting a goal to lose 100 pounds is going to demotivate you, but setting a goal to lose ten and losing the first pound will give you a motivation boost because it shows progress.
In a minute, I’ll be giving you 16 actions that you can take right now to get your business started. These actions will equip you with determination, momentum, and small wins to keep the ball rolling.
Naturally, we don’t like to leave things unfinished, so taking these small actions will give you the determination to continue building. You wouldn’t lay one brick and then stop building the path.
Picture your project as a ball. It’s sitting at the top of a slope on a flat spot, waiting to be nudged. Starting by taking these small, easy actions if your way of nudging the ball. It will gain momentum as it starts to roll down the slope.
All of the actions in this post are small wins. You may be tempted to go big, but I encourage you to just start with the actions below. Then, take more small but focused actions toward starting. Small wins feel good and will keep you motivated.
Let’s get into it…
16 Actions You Can Take Right Away To Get Started
1. Break it Down: Still think you don’t know where to start? You probably have the answer, but it might be buried in a large, seemingly overwhelming process.Breaking it down into bite-sized chunks will help you see it more clearly.
What are the steps you need to take to bring you from where you are, to where you want to be – not ultimately, but by the end of the week or month?
For example, say I want to start a business selling on Amazon through their FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) program. I probably know where to start, I just have to break that down.
First, I have to sign up for an Amazon seller account. Then, I need to find profitable products. Then, I need to buy the profitable products. Then, I need to prepare them to ship to Amazon. Going through the step-by-step process of how to get to the first sale helps me find the first step I need to take: Signing up for an Amazon seller account. Time: 20 minutes
2. Buy Your Domain and Hosting: This is an easy, painless way to start. Choose your domain name. The point is to get the ball rolling down the hill. Get your website started by buying your hosting. It takes even less time if you buy your domain through your host. Setting up a website takes less than 5 minutes. Here’s a tutorial. Time: 5 minutes
3. Write Your “Why”: Your “why” is the driver for your idea or business, and writing your “why” is a powerfully motivating exercise. So think about it. Why are you pursuing this particular idea?
If you don’t have an idea yet, why do you want to start a business at all? Remember: your “why” is not because you are an expert in the topic. You’re expert in a lot of things, but you chose this particular idea.
For example, I’m expert at using Microsoft Word, making green smoothies, and dog breeds (one of my first jobs was working for a company called Posh Pup Boutique) but I’ve chosen lifestyle and career design.
My “why” is because I strongly believe that everybody should have the freedom and flexibility to work when, how, and on what they want; to control their own brains and futures. Don’t overlook this as a fluffy exercise. Time: 20 minutes
4. Set a “Launch” Date: Working toward something blindly without having a timeline will throw fuel on the fire of procrastination.
If you don’t know what you’ll launch, set a “quit my job” date. That will be the date that you have to work toward to build this thing, because you will be unemployed after that point and you’ll need to support yourself.
If a “quit my job” date that doesn’t apply to you, set a “tell everybody I know about my plan” date. No excuses. Set some sort of date and announce it. Time: 5 minutes
5. Tell Somebody About It: Think of somebody you know who will keep you accountable – ideally, somebody who has already started something for themselves, and will support you but also give you some tough love when you need it.
Do not tell them that you’re “thinking” of starting this thing – tell them that you are starting it.
Tell them about your date, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and open up to them. Let them know how long it’s been an idea for, and tell them all of the excuses you’ve used to get out of just doing it. It will feel great and they’ll be able to call your bluff the next time you make an excuse. Time: 10 minutes
6. Have a Conversation: Connect with a member of your target market or audience and have a conversation with them. Find out what issues they are experiencing. Use this research to vet your idea for free. Time: 20 minutes
7. Stalk Somebody: Okay – please don’t go out there and earn yourself a restraining order. But do find somebody who is successful in doing what you want to do and spend the next twenty minutes studying one aspect of what makes them successful.
If they own a super successful Etsy store, go through their photos and note backgrounds, image quality, and shots. If your successful person is a blogger, study their writing style, the way they engage their audience. Time: 20 minutes
8. Spend Some Money: Derek Halpern has a great video (found here) about procrastination, and his method works almost every time: pay for something.
Sounds crazy, right? But in the video, Derek goes over why paying for something helps you follow through with it. It’s because you are putting something at stake.
In this case, it’s your money. When I suggested you set a deadline, it’s your reputation. So why not get a coach to help you through the “I don’t know where to start” procrastination excuse?
If pay for a coaching session, your money is at stake. Not only will the coach help you find where to start, but you will naturally start after having hired a coach – otherwise, you’ll have wasted the money. Time: 15 minutes
9. Procrastinate (Intentionally): Spend the next twenty minutes on Reddit, Pinterest, or Quora.These sites are a great place for market research and you can get some seriously good ideas by absorbing your target market’s questions.
If you already have your idea, these will give you an edge by showing you exactly what your target market is thinking, struggling with, and what words they use to describe it. Time: 20 minutes
10. Kick Back and Read: Chill out and spend the next twenty minutes reading a book. Not just any book, a book related to marketing or business. Look for one that’s inspiring. There’s nothing more effective in gaining momentum that inspiration. Time: 20 minutes
11. Go Shopping: Spend twenty minutes figuring out what you want to sell and spend a small amount of money on the samples at Alibaba. Or, if your idea is an Etsy shop, run to the store to get your supplies to make your first item. If you have an idea for an information product, start sourcing designers. Time: 20 minutes
12. Write Your “About” Page: It doesn’t matter what type of business you want to start, it needs an “about” page. Blogs, Etsy Shops, Amazon Stores, Ebay Stores, consultants, coaches, and advisors all have one thing in common: they need to tell the world what they do.
So even if you don’t know what you want to call your business yet, you can write an “About” page. Just do it.Bonus: This can also focus you and provide clarity. Time: 20 minutes
13. Make Reservations: No, not at a restaurant – reserve your Facebook page and Twitter handle.The reality is, most businesses these days have a presence on social media, and starting with these things are small, bite-sized actions that can get the momentum flowing. Time: 10 minutes
14. Create a Schedule: Now that you’ve broken the steps to start down, you can schedule in the steps to avoid procrastination. Read my post: An Insanely Simple 3 Step Guide to Killing Procrastination to find out why scheduling works.
You can also download my free report on my favourite productivity tools and the scheduling workbook that I use to help you with the process by clicking here. Time: 15 minutes
15. Brainstorm Tagline Ideas: Not all businesses need a tagline, but don’t let that stop you for brainstorming tagline ideas. A good tagline can do double duty: it can serve as your elevator pitch, as well.
No matter what your idea is, you’ll benefit from explaining what you are planning to do into one or two sentences. Time: 20 minutes
16. Daydream: Create your perfect day. Spend twenty minutes daydreaming (in vivid detail) exactly how your perfect day would go, once you start your business.
When it’s successful and you’ve reached your goal, what will your life look like? Chris Guillebeau in his post:s Lifestyle Design in Your Ideal World suggests you write it out in great detail and imagine what you will do, who you will interact with, and even what you eat.
This is not only very motivating, but it will keep you on track by helping you start on the right things. If what you’re starting with isn’t moving you closer to making that perfect day a reality, it’s not the right action to take. Time: 20 minutes
It’s Time to Stop Thinking and Start Doing
Even if you do all of these things over the next few days, you won’t automagically have a successful business.
There’s no easy buttons or quick fixes to build a lifestyle business.
But if you do even one of these things, or better yet, two or three, you’ll have fuelled your determination, started gaining momentum, and have generated small wins.
And once you start and activate these forces, you’ll become unstoppable.
You’ll have torn down the barrier of not knowing where to start.
Sarah Peterson is the author of Unsettle.org, where she encourages people to never settle for careers they don’t love. Sign up for her free course to find the perfect idea for a lifestyle business so you can gain flexibility and freedom and do work you love.