I’ve been chatting with a few people about creating and setting up small “business” ventures – what do to, how to do it, why do it, you know the drill. I’m certainly not an expert, except that I have done a few things, some quite successful, some not, many still to be determined.

So before you go and hire that business coach, or the marketing social media expert that will get you leads or the blog writer or the whatever, read this.

Every time I speak with someone about their idea, I ask them two very simple questions borrowed from Seth Godin. Let’s call these the “buy-in” questions:

  • What is it for?
  • Who is it for?

While simple, these are powerful, yet sometimes hard to answer questions. Well-thought answers to these give us definition, focus and direction and we need this before we venture into this big unknown.

So what’s next? Once these questions are successfully addressed, how do we get to the next level? I’m glad you asked.

As with all journeys, we have a Beginning, a Middle and an End. And these loop back and forth from each other, so let’s check them all out as I listen to 1980s music. Because you are guaranteed to find yourself somewhere in this loop.

The Beginning

Unsurprisingly, starting is the hardest thing to do. That dreaded Beginning. What am I going to do? You answered the “buy-in” questions, but what is next? First, let’s determine what our venture is all about: is it a career, a job, a side-gig, a hobby, a distraction or something else?

The answer matters but more important is the process this question takes us through. Is your idea that good that you could quit your day job, and dedicate 100% of your time to this pursuit? Or is it just a fun side-gig to keep you caffeinated and stimulated? Are you trying to buy yourself a job? Or is it really just a good, fun hobby?

Whatever it is, all good. But just remember that this is one of the most important questions we could ask ourselves. Why am I really doing? Not in an existential kind of way, but more practical, more real-life.

Can you tell me why?

Tell Me Why, Bronski Beat

Whatever the outcome is, call it what it is and go forth with the right degree of enthusiasm and effort.

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

Talk Talk, Talk Talk

But do something. Don’t waste your time talking, planning, thinking it through, waiting for the right moment. Get on with it.

Start me up
Ah, give it all you got
You got to never, never, never stop

Start Me Up, The Rolling Stones

Start now. Use what you have. You don’t need more. Do it.

The Middle

I hate the Middle. It is the hardest part after the Beginning. Most of the time, you find yourself in a state of limbo, a surreal existence. A lot is working but not everything is. Will it work? Will it not? This was meant to be a career and it now feels like a hobby! What’s next?

I thought I would become an overnight success.

That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free

Money for Nothin’, Dire Straits

There are no hacks, no such thing as “overnight”. Hard work, commitment, consistency, persistence, wholeheartedness. Keep at it. And if it no longer works?

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

The Gambler, Kenny Rogers

Change it. And go back to the Beginning. You’ve been there before and you know what to do.

The End

The end
Of our elaborate plans
The end
Of everything that stands
The end
No safety or surprise
The end

The End, The Doors (OK, this is from 1967 but it snuck into my 1980s Playlist – serendipitous don’t you think?)

Is there such a thing such as the End? There always is. Decision time beckons. Are you moving on from this venture?

I know it hurts to say goodbye
But it’s time for me to fly

Time for Me to Fly, REO Speedwagon

Or are you doubling down, bigger and better than before?

In act one, I was struggling to survive. Nobody wanted my action dead or alive. In act two, I hit the big time and bodies be all up on my behind
And I can’t help myself cuz I was born to shine
If you don’t like it, you can shove it. But you don’t like it, you love it
So I’ll be up here in a rage until they put the curtain down on the stage

The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Weezer (another sneak-in into my 1980s Playlist – 2008!)

Make a call. And then go back to the Beginning. You’ve got the bug, you are starting to develop a track record, you know how hard, how easy, how frustrating, how rewarding this whole thing is. And you are probably a bit hooked. Repeat.

Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. If you ever want to chat, let’s do it!

  • Martin Waldseemuller 1507 World Map, Cornell University

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