The Big Idea
Doing what you love is freedom; loving what you do is happiness.
Are you tired of working for someone else? Do you want to be your own boss? Do you think that having your own business will make you rich? Do you have an original idea, or better yet, think you can take an existing idea/product/business and modify in such a way that it will give you a true competitive advantage?
I am assuming you want both freedom AND happiness. Whether you are offering a product or a service, you need to be honest with yourself: why do you want to leave the security of working for someone else and enter the Great Unknown?
“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” Salvador Dali
What is your motivation to starting your own business? Freedom to be your own boss? Flexibility? Autonomy? Do you have the passion that will keep you going when things do not go as planned? Do you have the knowledge, skills and experience to be successful or are you the person who wants to open a restaurant just because you frequent restaurants and have the money to do so? If your only reason to start your own business is money, don’t do it. Money should be the result of your efforts, not your objective.
The steps you need to take are the same, regardless whether you are making something, reselling a product or offering a service. Let’s assume three different businesses that match these scenarios: a bakery, a retail shop selling clothes or an independent electrician. The steps you take are the same for all three businesses.
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” Muhammad Ali
Details, details, details…Your new business is not one big picture but rather a puzzle of ten thousand pieces. Your job is to break your one big idea to the smallest pieces possible, fully understand each piece and then recompose them to create the one big picture. It will not be a nicely-framed rectangular picture with smooth, straight edges but rather shaped like an amoeba, continually changing, yet the core remains the same. The more pieces you know, the more control you have over your business.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Confucius
Start making lists, whether it is on scrap paper or in a notebook, using your phone or your computer. Don’t keep it in your head. Write everything down, a few words or a sentence or a paragraph, then revisit them again and again. Edit, modify, delete, add. This is a continuous process, one that will never stop.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain
Discuss your Big Idea with your spouse, family members, a friend, people you trust to give you their honest opinion. Limit the number of confidants to the bare minimum. The more people you ask, the more diverse opinions you will hear, and the more uncertain you will become.
Try to qualify them as business professionals, people without any ulterior motives, neither negative or too positive.
Expect questions, doubts, criticism. Do not take their comments personally, they mean well. They are not criticizing you; they are criticizing your business idea. They are your sounding board. Instead of getting defensive, think of them as unpaid consultants.
Do it in steps: start from identifying the problem or need you are trying to solve before you start talking about each small detail of your operation.