Starting a business is exhilarating and exciting. It’s also a daunting challenge. Your dreams and vision are standing face-to-face with every doubt you have. Today is the day to begin. “But how?”, you ask.
“What? You’re kidding me.”
Nope, START BACKWARDS!
Picture in your mind your business completed. Visualize your customers in your shop or your client at your desk. See your book being purchased or your class attended. Imagine your exercise class filled with participants. Now START BACKWARDS!
Why do I say that? Because if you start from the end you’ll notice the hurdles more easily. In fact, you’ll start to see a plan develop with much less effort.
One example: when I started my first weekly publication, I first had a meeting with a printer. Knowing what he needed and the format gave me the questions I needed to answer to get started. I also gained a great deal of knowledge that would have taken me much longer to acquire if I had not used this tactic. I could look at what others were doing and ask questions. I realized that he needed to know my layout, possible number of pages, color or black and white, how many to print.
This approach of STARTING BACKWARDS gave me amazing information. By beginning to answer these questions, I could then get printing estimates. This led to creating the advertising rates. It took me from overwhelm as to where to start and gave me the questions I needed to answer. To give you confidence, I might add here that I started a weekly publication with no knowledge of publishing or advertising. So this process works beautifully!
Another example: when I decided to try a small gift shop, I considered my vision – customers coming in to a fun, colorful shop where the items made you smile. The theme was bright, primary colors not the country shades so prevalent in antiques and collectibles shops. Each product was either an original or if mass produced, we knew the artist. My goal was to show that even mass produced products started with an artist.
By STARTING BACKWARDS I knew I had to know the artist to have information to display along with the product. I knew I had to have lots of bright colored displays and use those colors in my decorating. As I pictured handing them their purchase in my store bag, giving them a receipt, etc., I was able to begin to see what I needed. Now I had a list that made it easier to put into a plan.
This method of STARTING BACKWARDS also gets you around the mental challenge of where to start first! By working backwards and visualizing your interaction with your customer, you will see all the details including taking their payment and how to market to them.
One more example was a client of mine who thought she wanted to create an online gift basket business with items from her state. In this case it was NY State cheeses, maple syrup, etc. She had come to me to help her design a brochure. (A great way to START BACKWARDS, I might add.) She quickly realized she was totally unprepared. By approaching it this way, questions were asked. What products? Can I get them easily? To get a good price how many do I have to purchase? How do I figure out mailing charges. In this particular case, I recall her looking at me slightly shocked and saying, “Wow, I didn’t realize I’d have to do all this!”
I was stunned at her reaction. Then I realized that she thought she would create a brochure, take orders, and start her business. She had not realized that she actually had to know item costs, shipping, packaging, and more before she could put a price in that brochure. Plus she’d have to put these together and take photos to include in the brochure.I remember saying to her, “If you price something at $19.99 and it ends up costing you $20.00, that doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. But what it really means is that you will make no money for you or your business and with every purchase, you’ll lose one cent!”
The other advantage that no one mentions when starting a business is the fact that maybe you discover “not that particular business!” When you START BACKWARDS, you’ll become much more aware of the process. You can then make a more realistic decision as to whether this is what you want to do. When we get caught up in the dream, we often are not very realistic about the challenges of the business. You may discover that you need a partner/employee to handle certain areas that are not in your particular skill set. This is not a failure. This is a lesson. It teaches you about your business and causes you to think about what you really want to do.
Often, when you START BACKWARDS, you discover an even better approach to accomplishing your dream. No matter what happens. No matter whether you continue, change course, or decide not to do this particular project, STARTING BACKWARDS will get you there more easily and much faster! Now go get started – backwards!