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.
Coaching Small Business Startups


$100 Object Lessons

21 04 2010

Click below if you would rather listen to this article.

Who wants this $100 now?  In Bootstrap Business: A Step-by-Step Business Survival Guide, the authors share a speaker’s $100 object lesson. The speaker held up a $100 bill and asked “Who wants this?” Every hand shot up. He then crumpled the bill and asked again “Who wants it now?” Again every hand shot up. He threw the $100 on the floor and jumped up and down on it. “Who wants it now?” Every hand went up in the air. “You mean after I’ve crumpled it, jumped on it, and literally beat it up, you still want it? Why?”

The response from one of the audience members was “Because its value has not changed!” On the journey to starting and running your business, you may feel that you are being beaten up and you may sometimes fail. But your value will not change. And unlike the $100 bill, your value may even increase. There is so much to learn about yourself from both the enjoyable and the harsh experiences.

The Bootstrap Business authors recommend keeping a journal of critical decisions and how they turned out. Write advice to yourself to follow in similar, future situations.

Who wants this $100?  A few years ago I attended a seminar where the speaker held up a $100 bill and asked, “Who wants this $100?” Hands shot up around the room. He repeated the phrase several times before someone ran up to the front and took the money from him. The speaker then asked, “Why didn’t you come up and take the money?”

Perhaps you would have said, “I don’t want to appear greedy” or “There must be a catch to this” or “Someone else deserves this more than I do” or “It would have to be a lot more money before I’m willing to take the risk of possibly embarrassing myself.”

The lesson to be learned is: Whatever reason you used is the same reason that prevents you from grabbing hold of other good things in your life.

Over this next week, look for opportunities where you can “grab the money” – not literally, but where you accept experiences that will benefit you and your business. Pay attention to how you felt in that moment.

Beverly A. McCrostie, M.Ed.
Your Unlimited Potential
Coaching Small Business Startups

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

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

Can You See the Difference?

30 03 2010

Two PursesSomewhat stunned by the price of Sarah Davis’s purse ($600), I proudly showed her my new shiny, bright red purse that I got on special at J C Penney for only $40. It will be a long time before I forget her statement, “Yours cost you $40; mine will make me $600.” Her purse retails for $3800; she bought it for $600 and will be able to sell it for $1200.

Sarah started in 1999 as a way to pay off her law school loans. Fashionphile is now the largest pre-owned luxury handbag business in the country. 

So what does the price of purses have to do with a small business startup?

When starting your new business, you may make the mistake of not carefully considering where to spend your time and money. Rather than investing in opportunities that will earn you money, you throw away money on expenses that are not generating profit.

For example, should you buy or lease a building and equipment? Can you start small and gradually grow big?

Costume Craze operated out of their home for several years until the volume of their sales dictated moving to a 60,000 sq. ft. warehouse. During that 7-year period, their sales grew from $17,000 to $10M.

Other small businesses borrow time on expensive equipment until the volume of their orders will allow them to purchase the equipment for themselves.

Rather than hiring administrative support – paying a salary, benefits, and purchasing a desk, chair, and computer equipment – you may want to consider contracting with a Virtual Assistant for the number of hours you currently need.

The first few years could be lean ones, but hold off paying yourself and re-invest that money back into your business.

What are some of the areas where you have invested rather than spent while growing your business?

Bev McCrostie, M.Ed.
Virtual Assistant Certificate
Red Deer College