When is the best time to start business?

If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ve already thought about starting your own business. Or maybe you’re thinking about it now. Or maybe you’re not sure if it’s a good idea and you’re doing some research to find out. In any case, learning from someone’s experience is always great idea. Let me share my experience then and I’ll be happy to read your comment if you find it useful. Or if you disagree.

Going to the point, the only correct answer to question in post title is:

NOW

No? Why not? I can assure you, there will be always many reasons to postpone this decision. Find below 10 most common excuses and how to deal with them.

1. I have no money.

Or too little money. Not enough. The true is, that money is just one of factors needed to run business and there are a few ways to get funds for your business:

  • Private savings
  • Personal / Business Loan
  • Grants
  • Investors
  • Crowd funding

And finally, re-think your business model to start with small projects (less money needed) and then move to bigger investments.

2. I have no idea for business.

Sit down and think. Still nothing? Get ideas from friends, family, Internet. Or go other route – business is not always about new inventions. You can improve existing ideas, make them different, add some extra value – it works for many businesses.

3. I have no idea about running business.

This is skill like any other and can be learnt as any other. Sign up for course, go to university, read and watch professional materials. Find other entrepreneur to be your mentor and adviser. That’s theory. But you will never learn anything properly without practice – that’s actually good reason to start business, not to avoid it.

4. I’m afraid of financial instability.

This is unavoidable. There will be ups an downs for sure, important skill to gain is how to manage that. At the beginning, this risk can be limited by running business part time only with full time job. Or full time business with part time job.

5. I’m afraid of failure.

According to statistics, 90% startups fail. But also according to statistics, most successful entrepreneurs experienced failures during their careers. They succeeded because they didn’t give up and started over. Remember Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

6. I’m not sure if my product / service is good.

Make research and find out. Ask family and friends for opinion or ask for independent review. Bloggers are good choice if you’re looking for professional review, check this one (about my shop) as example:

SEBIX CLOTHING REVIEW

Make adjustments and improvements if necessary. Your product doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be good enough to make your customer happy. So don’t focus just on product but also on customer needs, maybe you can actually have what they want.

7. I can’t compete with big corporations.

No you can’t. Don’t even try to. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Surprising? Some customers are looking for different experience, which can be provided only by small businesses. This can be through customised or unique products, special deals and the most important – exceptional customer service.

8. I have no time for it.

Improve your time management. This article can be helpful:

How to find more time?

9. I’m too young / too old for that.

Some people start businesses on retirement, some as early as secondary school (I bet there are some exception starting even earlier). I don’t buy this as excuse then. Go on.

10. I think I should wait until I’m ready.

That’s called procrastinating. Change it into planning instead. Getting ideas and making business plan will make you ready. If you’re aware of any activities required before starting your business – you’re ready. You know what to do step by step. So go and do it. Now.

 

As extra, one old song about problem with important decision:

 

 

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How to find more time?

I must disappoint you: it is not possible. But read on.

There will never be more than 24 hours during one day. Actually, once a year it can be 25 (in some countries) and it happens on last Saturday of October. It may be not enough for big plans unless these big plans are limited to just this one special night.

Many of us complain that there’s not enough time for many things. I’m no better – I couldn’t find time to write this blog post for too long. There is some solution needed then. As it is not possible to add extra hours to our days, the only option is to make better use of what we have already. To achieve that, we can make improvement in two major areas:

  1. Focus and allocate time for what is really important.
  2. Reduce time wasted.

Let’s discuss first point first. To not reinvent wheel, we can use famous Eisenhower matrix to categorise our activities:

Eisenhower Matrix

  • First quadrant shows all emergencies as well as activities postponed so long, that we are now five minutes before deadline. Things that just have to be done now.
  • Second category occupy all important stuff defined as long term goals, plans for future, everything what matters but doesn’t need to be done now. What is missing in many publications is that it is usually good to have such activities planned for specific time frame, even if it could change later. Setting goals like buying house in ten year’s time is something we can relate to. If we say it will be done just “in the future”, there’s no way to evaluate progress, to prepare when time comes and to measure if we’re close to completion. Even if we miss predicted goal, we can take a lesson from that and make improvements for next goals. Have your goals always clearly specified. Adjust later if required.
  • Things not important but seen as urgent. There’s usually urgent for someone else, never important to you. Ignore them. Or delegate, if possible. Or reschedule. Find any excuse to not put your energy into them.
  • Last category belongs to all time wasters but it’s worth separate discussion.

File:The Persistence of Memory.jpg

Salvador Dali: The Persistence of Memory. Source: Wikipedia

Time wasters.

We’re getting to second point mentioned at the beginning. To properly identify time wasters, it is good to make journal for all activities we perform and how much time they take. Try to make notes for just one week – how much time you spend for planned and unplanned activities and what they are. You may be surprised. All of us can recall moments where we started to scroll through social media and few hours passed, or switched on TV for a few minutes but switched it off after no less than few hours.

This is actually this extra time we really need and we are always short of.

Another fact missing in publications – do not feel guilty if you perform activities commonly shown as examples of time wasters. We are not robots and we all need to take a rest and do something just for pleasure. Key factor is to do it consciously. If I decide to spend evening playing computer games or watching TV – that’s conscious and PLANNED. And if I feel that I really need it, it goes into category of IMPORTANT activities. But if I start watching one short film on YouTube and switch it off after a few hours, that’s different story. Not planned, not intended and probably not needed. Wasted.

Being aware of all actions we do is a key.

A few more practical tips for time management:

  • Be realistic allocating time for your activities. Don’t be over-optimistic, especially if you’re going to do something first time.
  • Allocate some extra time for unexpected issues related to your plans.
  • Never sacrifice your health to get more time – sleeping less or skipping meals is not the way to get extra time. You may lose it later in hospital.
  • Don’t focus on work only – there are other aspects of life as well. Find time for friends and family.
  • Allocate time for reading blogs.

Alternatively, if you desperately need more time – take a little bit from Pink Floyd:

My biggest challenge: communication

Fashion But How - Communication Challenge

The nature of all blogs is that they’re always more or less personal. Let me share something personal as well.

We all have some skills, some areas where we are simply excellent. I can learn new programming language in one evening and start using it on advanced level next day. I knew people could play guitar song after hearing it just a few times. They needed just one evening to learn a new song with complicated guitar solo included. Some people can gain 1000 blog followers within one month. Or week. Everyone has something.

On the other side there are our weaknesses – something we struggle with, activities we’re trying to avoid and areas of life which looks like shouting to us “STAY AWAY!”. These are sometimes just our fears, things we’re not going to try and explore just because we’re afraid of failure. Afraid of being exposed as those who failed.

Fashion But How - Fear

(Photograph: Sebastian Proch)

I’m afraid of my insufficient communication skills. Social awkwardness. Far from perfect writing style, not to mention public speeches.

I started my small business a few months ago being aware that the best business leaders in history were great speakers. Personalities of rock stars, business celebrities from front pages of magazines. Get Steve Jobs as example. I’m as close to this level as to shores of New Zealand.

Fashion But How - Distance to New Zealand

(Map by Google, artwork by me)

Having all odds against me, I decided to accept this challenge. The biggest challenge for me in recent years, difficult as hell, but I’m determined to succeed. And through this blog I did first step.

If you’re also the one who struggles with social situations, set some smaller goals for yourself, make some plan of actions and try. This smaller goals can be:

  • Write a blog post.
  • Share your thoughts commenting other blogs.
  • Post and comment anything on social media.
  • Make a phone call to sort out a problem (with customer service, supplier, manager in your job etc.).
  • Attend meeting. Share your opinions during this meeting.
  • Make some contacts online. Then offline.

If you fail with your attempts, try again. And again. You’ll finally make it. I will make it. One year from today I’ll write blog post to confirm it’s possible.

Be motivated be this song (or have some fun at least):