It’s so easy to start a business these days.
In this post I’ll go through the four legs of the startup stool – Cash, Technology, Contacts and Time – and explain why Time is the most important of the four to get a grip on. And the most difficult, unfortunately.
(Note: I didn’t say, it’s easy to start a successful business. More on that later.)
Trust me, it’s SO easy to start a business these days. And cheap. You used to have to have an office, a secretary, stock, somewhere to put the stock… now you just grab £500’s worth of kit at PC world and get started from your bedroom. OK, I lied. You don’t even need the £500. Go to an internet cafe. (Or save the £2.25 on the frappalappaccino and go to the library, bargain queen.)
Or reach into your pocket and pull out an incredibly powerful piece of technology that was unthinkable just a few decades ago, yet fits into the palm of your hand and almost goes unnoticed – your mobile phone.
You also need social capital – contacts – to set up a business. As you well know, it’s not what you know but who you know. Social capital trumps cash capital. Which is lucky because cash is finite when you’re starting up, and you really must get into the habit of not spending it. At all. But do get into the habit of talking to people. Network online and offline. There’s a few handy little tools out there called Twitter and Facebook that can help. Did you know that you can build a contact database of 100,000 interested people on Facebook, in less than 24 hours? For around 200 quid?
So that’s cash, technology and contacts sorted. Feeling confident?
Unfortunately, nature’s irony is that we all have only 24 hours in our day. And if you’re a doer, or a do-gooder, or a parent, or god forbid all three, time is not on your side. You really shouldn’t be wasting that precious time reading this – so I feel a duty to make it worth your investment. So here’s my killer tip for the 4th leg of your startup stool, and the most difficult one to manage – TIME:
Top Time Tip: Don’t waste it.
This isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time. You can only really concentrate on making one business a success, at any one time. So make sure it’s the right one. Feel free to start off many different businesses right now and cull them quickly as you go along. But make sure that you know what your priorities are, so that when one idea takes off, it’s something that’s really worth investing your all into. Because it will consume you. It will need all of your passion and heart and determination to make it succeed.
There are many quite straightforward ways to do this, and I can point you in the right direction. Google Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element, or read Steve Pavlina’s blog, or anything called “How to find your passion” or “the one-paragraph business plan”. Just pick one that you like the writing style of, since the generic formula is usually to scribble down a stream of consciousness on “What do you like doing, what do you hate, what are your crazy dreams made of” and see what happens.
Passion is important in business. Stick close to yours because you’ll enjoy more, be more successful and save time. The brilliant thing about building a business around your passion, is that you get to meet other people who share that passion. It’s like opening a door at the back of the office photocopy room, walking through and finding yourself at a pool party full of amazing, attractive people with your favourite tunes banging out of the speakers and a bottomless fridge of cold beer. And it’s instant. The party is going on right now, behind that door.
Why is the passion thing so important in relation to time? Because it will stop you wasting your time. It will keep you focused. It will keep you spending your precious, limited time on things that are really worth it: activities that will really grow your business, towards a goal that is meaningful to you personally.
There are endless* possible business opportunities out there. (*Ask me.) Thanks to the internet, they are growing every second. Don’t let the profusion of possibilities stop you from starting, but do check back against your own values and ambitions regularly. Are you doing something ambitious enough? And are you working in the right direction? If you’re not truly scared of embarrassment and failure, the answer to both questions is probably “no”. So change it. If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.
Value your time highly, face your fears, and follow your dreams.
Whether you get stuck or fly stright away, don’t forget to let me know what happens.