I am a sensitive person who has always been drawn to industries that require thick skin. If you start out a sentence with, “Don’t take this personally, but…” assume that I have just cast a net around my heart, scooped it up, drawn it as far away from you as I can get it, and then quickly sprung up a protective barrier of razor wire around it. I am going to take it personally. I don’t want to, but I will. Then, after I realize your words haven’t caused me to lie in a pool of my own blood, I’m going to throw on my mask of professionalism, straighten my tie, pull on my boots, and then you better hope the heck you weren’t out of line, because when I play business, I mean business.
Okay, so I may have exaggerated a whole lot of everything in that last paragraph. Still, the point is, everyone is an onion.
The end. *publishes post*
No, but seriously (and this time, I mean it), we are all layered, and so are the businesses we create. So, what does it really take to start a business from (itch-to-)scratch?
- The courage to succeed.
- Willingness to… fail?
Prototype of the Perfect Business Owner
If you’re thinking about starting a work from home business, don’t waste time comparing yourself to others. Stop Googling prototypes of the perfect business owner. We are all unique, yes, and we all come from different backgrounds and different means, and we bring those lessons with us to the table, but just because you don’t match up on all the right checklists doesn’t mean you are destined to fail. There are exceptions to every rule, and if you want something bad enough, be the exception if that’s what it takes to get it. I bootstrapped my business, and I didn’t do it with that coveted six months of income safety net, either. My business plan was simple: Do or die, baby. Do or die.
Now, am I saying you should start a business with that same plan (as in, the lack thereof)? No. Am I saying that if I had the chance to start over, I would jump right in the way I did? Probably not–mostly because there are so many resources I know about now that I didn’t know about (or didn’t exist) back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth… er, back when I started my business. It worked out fine for me, but I think that’s because I built my ship to wreck. I planned to fail… I put failure into the equation of success. I had several parachutes open when I jumped, and I knew all I needed was one to catch the winds of success. I was lucky enough to find several sources of lift to keep me flying, and ultimately, I was able to choose from amongst them, but I didn’t jump into the idea of working from home with 100% surety that would be the case. I knew what I wanted–to be my own boss–and I took a leap of faith. That’s as deep as my original business plan went.
Build Your Ship to Wreck
No, Amelia Bedelia, I’m not saying you should literally design your ship with the intent of wrecking it off the coast of Shoulda Woulda. Build your ship to take you through the entire journey–through the grandest adventure of all. Build it strong enough to weather all the storms, find ways to protect it from pirates, and give every client the best possible trip on your ship. But… (and I don’t ever start a sentence with coordinating conjunction lightly) don’t get so lost in maps of the coast line, weather patterns, and checking the haul for holes that you forget it will never float until you put it in water. The only way your ship can wreck is if you get it floating. Build it and sail it. Build your ship to wreck, because that means you built it to sail.
Owning a business is scary! There’s no denying that. Trepidation and the desire for perfect preparation are healthy. Even with all the confidence I have in my skills to do my job not only right, but well, there is this overpowering shadow that weighs eighteen bazillion tons and follows me everywhere: If I fail, everyone will know. Not the whole world–because most of the world doesn’t care one way or the other, but enough people will (a glorious side effect of being an online business). I don’t get to just put in an application up the street and punny my way out of this until it fizzles away. Everyone has a front row seat to my failure, if they choose to accept the invitation to the show somewhere along the way.
When you decide to start a business from home, especially if you already have a proper online presence, you have to be willing to accept that risk. You need to have the courage to start and the strength the fail. Everything else is just the ocean you sail your ship through. Do you need a safety net in the bank? No. Should you? It’s definitely not a bad idea. Do you need a business plan? No. Should you have one? Absolutely! Do you need a network already in place? No. Should you? It would definitely help. There are tons of shoulds, but there are really only two musts, as far as I’m concerned.
So, what about you? Have you built your ship to wreck? When I first started in on answering that question, my answer was a resounding NO, but now I see that the answer may not be quite as straight forward as I first assumed. I built my ship to sail on the wings of a prayer, and if it wrecks, at least I know I sailed right.
Note: This post was part of my online journal experiment while reading Present-Over-Perfect… and it (my journal entry/post) went in a totally different direction than I intended it to. Direct inspiration for this post came from reading “Ship to Wreck” by Florence + The Machine. You can find the first post about the book here.