The First Step to Your Business Startup

25 05 2010

I typically procrastinate starting a project. But once I get started, I quickly build momentum and finish the project. The trick is trying to convince myself to take the first step.

For example, I had been putting off exercising and losing the additional pounds I had gained over the past few years. Last year I was grumpy and embarrassed when I hiked with friends and they easily made it to the top of Diamond Head while I was gasping and had to stop numerous times. I talked about getting healthy, bought books on the topic, and occasionally walked with friends. But I wasn’t willing to commit myself.

The first step started five months ago when I tried a diet that a friend recommended. I lost 4 pounds in 10 days – a modest, healthy loss – and then, encouraged, decided to take the next steps. I had a body composition test to determine my ideal weight, bought a bathroom scale, and took advantage of the exercise room in our complex 6 days a week. Now with just a few pounds away from my target weight, I am actually enjoying exercising! I’ve bought a good pair of running shoes and a friend is training me for a 5 K run in a month’s time.

It’s so easy to procrastinate starting your own business. There are so many reasons to delay: you don’t have the time, money, or enough experience. You aren’t sure where you will find customers and whether your family will be supportive of your idea.

But until you actually stop dreaming about it and take the first step, you will never know if you could have been successful.  Your first step might be writing a business plan, selecting a business name, ordering business cards, purchasing a url for your website, or starting a blog.

What will be your first step?  And remember, no one said you had to give up your full time job quite yet. Many home-based business owners start out part time and only give up their full-time jobs when they have enough business.

Bev McCrostie, M.Ed.
YOUR UNLIMITED POTENTIAL
Coaching Small Business Startups

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Business Startup Tips: 2 More Lists

12 04 2010

In a previous post, I provided two alternatives to the To-Do List in building your buisness: the Stop Doing List and a Loose List. Since then in my daily travels, I have come across two more lists.

The Courtyard Marriott in San Jose, CA, had an Accomplished List, which they indicate is “Much more gratifying than a to-do list, don’t you think?” They are so correct – a list of what I’ve accomplished gives me a greater feeling of achievement than a list of all the things I have yet to do.

But at some point I must have written down my plans to achieve otherwise I would never have got beyond the “thinking about it” point. Perhaps I told a friend my new idea – speaking out loud often solidifies ideas for me, especially when my friends don’t then declare that I’m crazy!

An Accomplished List did get me thinking though. When was the last time that I had created a list of things I have accomplished in the past day, week, or years? I do have a list, of sorts, in a collection of photos and a portfolio. Each item documents my successes in both my personal and my professional lives. I have tangible evidence that I am growing and making a difference in my life and the lives of others.

Are you taking the time to focus on and document your journey to becoming a successful business owner?

The other list was an ordinary Shopping List. What made it unique was that Bryan Johnson used it as a marketing opportunity. The Shopping List pad was sitting at the checkout at our local Maceys grocery store.  At the bottom of the list, he included his picture and contact information. Even if potential clients do not end up using it as their shopping list, they may keep it for later use as a quick notes sheet.

Can you think of a marketing tool you could create that would be unique and helpful to your target market?

Bev McCrostie, M.Ed.
Virtual Assistant Certificate
Red Deer College
Bev.mccrostie@rdc.ab.ca
www.virtualassist.ca





How to Trigger Your Creativity

6 04 2010

The results of the Ladies Who Launch survey showed that successful women entrepreneurs were unstoppable when they really wanted something and they were likely to take the leap no matter how much they feared. I love the five exercises they gave to trigger my creativity and to enhance my “launcher talent.”

  1. Jump into something unfamiliar. When was the last time you said “yes” to something that you would normally not attempt?
  2. Be unstoppable. Instead of accepting a “no” to your request, persist (with a smile) until you get the response you need.
  3. Do something that scares you each week, and if you are really going for it, each day. This one may require you to carefully consider what you are most afraid of for your business. Is it talking to strangers about your business, or setting up your new website, or ordering business cards with your picture on them?
  4. Identify an obstacle that is in your way and come up with creative solutions for getting around it, over it, or through it. In your everyday responses to annoyances (a crying child, an upset client) can you think of a different way to handle the situation? My friend Bonnie Taylor Wachowicz created a short story that featured her potential client as the main character. The result: a new client who was convinced that Bonnie would come up creative solutions for her business.
  5. Incorporate at least one creative activity into your life each day. Instead of following to the letter each step in your favorite recipe, try experimenting with other ingredients. Instead of sitting at your desk and working, pick up your laptop and sit outside on your deck or on a park bench.

You may have to look at creativity in a different way. Teresa Amabile, professor at Harvard Business School, states “The desire to do something because you find it deeply satisfying and personally challenging inspires the highest level of creativity, whether it’s in the arts, sciences, or business.”

My challenge to you is to identify the areas in your business that will inspire you to the highest level of your creativity. Trigger your creativity this week by experimenting with one or all of the above five exercises in your personal and your business life.

Bev McCrostie, M.Ed.
Virtual Assistant Certificate
Red Deer College
Bev.mccrostie@rdc.ab.ca
www.virtualassist.ca





6 Hats for the Wow! Factor

5 04 2010

Red HatHave you got an idea for a business or product that you think will Wow! everyone? Are you worried that you will put a lot of time and money into your idea and it will flop? Dr. Gary Rhoads, co-author of Boom Start: Super Laws of Successful Entrepreneurs, uses a modified version of Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats to test and shape ideas and concepts.

The process is fairly simple: gather together a focus group of 6 – 14 people (typically 10 who you believe are your ideal client). You will need a Group Moderator who has some skills in facilitating group discussion – not a member of the focus group and not you. The Group Moderator should make this a fun experience by throwing out candies, letting them wear the colored hats, encouraging sharing of all ideas, and using each member’s name.

If you can afford it, purchase the six different colored hats for each focus group member and set them out on the table in front of each person. Can’t afford the hats? Then six sheets of colored paper will work just as well.

The Group Moderator leads the focus group through the process by having them put on the colored hats each time and answer the questions in the following order:

White Hat – Facts:
Owner (you) shares only the facts and allows the group to ask questions. After the owner leaves, the Moderator then asks the focus group, “Tell me what you just learned.”

Red Hat – Emotions:
Moderator states, “On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is Wow! Fantastic and 1 is Stinko, rate this product.” (Note: you need to have an average of 7.5 to be commercially viable. Less than 7.5 means “not quite yet”. It could also mean that you don’t have the ideal client group. If the idea has a 6.0 average, the idea could be tweaked.)

Black Hat – Negative Judgment:
Moderator asks, “What don’t you like?” Moderator writes down all the comments.

Yellow Hat – Positive Judgment:
Moderator requests, “Think of what would be positive.” Again writes down all the comments.

Green Hat – Alterations & Creativity:
Moderator requests, “Break into groups and bring back how this could be the number 1 product.” Encourages: “You are doing so well; I want you to imagine I was going to send you to Disneyland for the best ideas.”

Blue Hat – Thinking About the Process:
Moderator asks, “What would you summarize for the CEO?” Video tape this feedback. If the focus group has recommended a number of changes, the Moderator could request that they use the scale of 1 – 10 to rate the revised idea.

With the results from the focus group, you can now tweak the idea if it didn’t achieve a score of 7.5 or better, you could try another focus group (hoping to find your ideal client group), or you could abandon the idea and put your time and money into seeking out an idea that has the Wow! Factor.

Bev McCrostie, M.Ed.
Virtual Assistant Certificate
Red Deer College
Bev.mccrostie@rdc.ab.ca
www.virtualassist.ca