The other day I came across someone who asked for guidance on how to get started on his online business. This is not an uncommon problem: Most of us don’t know where to start or even how to. This person has had ideas (over 30 of them!) since 2005, but hasn’t been able to move forward with any of them for a few reasons:
- He’s a single father
- His salary doesn’t cover his monthly expenses and debt
- He doesn’t have a computer, TV, internet — just his pre-paid cell phone
Ultimately, his question was: What would *I* do to get a jumpstart on his business ideas and start making monthly income?
While I’d love to wave a magic wand to help him out, there’s no easy answer to his predicament. I understand that we all have reasons and circumstances for not being where we want to be. We can spend hours, days, and years justifying all of the reasons, too.
But the harsh truth is that if you’ve been stuck on dozens of business ideas for seemingly eons, the invisible walls in your head that trap you in place are probably bigger than you realize:
- Maybe you’re afraid of wasting your time and don’t know who to trust
- Maybe you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start
- Maybe you’ve already convinced yourself that you can’t do something because of XYZ reasons
Or maybe you’re waiting around for that “perfect” time, when the skies magically part and you suddenly have more time, motivation, money, and support. (This never happens, FYI.)
The reality is, it’s up to you to make the deliberate decisions and take specific actions, such as getting to work on validating your business idea, to get you where you really want to be — whether that’s starting and building a successful business, losing weight (or gaining muscle), or finding that perfect partner. As Carol Burnett of The Carol Burnett Show put it:
“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.”
Otherwise you’re allowing yourself to continue being in a victim mindset, where you tend to offload blame, in the absence of success, onto everyone and everything else around you — other than onto yourself. Bad things just keep happening to you, so goes the thinking.
Years ago, I found myself in that situation of twiddling my thumbs and waiting for my problems to magically go away on their own. When they didn’t, I’d blame my inertia on factors outside of myself. It’s the circumstances, not me. It’s other people, not me. I’d only talked and dreamed about starting my own business. I wrote down my ideas and crossed my fingers for that lightning-in-a-bottle moment. Of course, I acknowledge that this is my personal circumstance, which doesn’t apply to all, but the fact remains:
I recognized that starting a business was up to ME. And that, if I wanted things — anything — to happen, it was on me to make them happen.
Finally, I made the first move to validate my idea via Facebook.
Fast forward almost a year later and I now have…
I had no idea what I was doing, even with my first sales page, and yes, I was sweating bullets the entire time! But actually doing something was empowering.
So, the first step to doing something? This is best answered with another question that fellow staff writer Katie Parrott posed in her article about the paralysis of starting a business: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Some ideas on “small bites” you can take:
- Carve 30 minutes out of your day to get started on something.
- That something can be writing down your business ideas. (Here’s our Ultimate Guide to Profitable Business Ideas.)
- When you have an idea, talk to potential customers to validate your business idea.
Full stop. Those are the three bites you should focus on to gradually eat the proverbial elephant that is getting your business off the ground.
Everything else — making a website, thinking about blog posts to write, playing around with your logo, etc. — are just distractions.
And understandably, no one wakes up with a profitable idea, immediately knowing what to do every step of the way. Not even us GrowthLab staff members who help others start and build their businesses as part of our job. Theoretically, we “should” know how to start a business. We “should” know how to find an idea. We “should” know what blinders we put on that might hold us back.
But we don’t always.
You’ll always resist doing. You’ll always doubt what you’re doing. But what’s important is that you commit to doing something.
And that first something is confirming your idea is profitable.