"Fear is debilitating" -- as cliché as this phrase may be, it's something you should remind yourself of every day of your life if you are or want to be a business owner.
This post was inspired by a good friend who told me exactly what I needed to hear a few years ago when I was looking to launch a business; my own brand of fashion jewelry. I took his advice... and never looked back.
We met at a Starbucks off of Robertson Blvd, close to my home in West Hollywood, CA. I'd often come here to work on the computer. He asked me about my life and what I had been working on. I was so excited to tell him about my new venture! "Well, I've been designing!" I blurted out. He was intrigued, "Oh, yeah? What have you been designing?" I went on to tell him that I was designing a collection of fashion jewelry. I told him that I had been sketching my designs for some time, but I didn't know what my next steps should be. I was overwhelmed with doubt and fear that I even had what it took to pull off such a feat.
Then the floodgates opened up, "How was I going to pay for manufacturing, product packaging, inventory, labor, and website design?? Would anyone even take me seriously without formal education in jewelry design? What sort of business permits would I need? How did copyright laws work? Should I be an LLC or a sole proprietor? Also, who the hell did I think I was to come out with my own label of fashion jewelry? I'm just a kid, who would buy my pieces?"
He shook his head, "Johnathan, stop!" He paused for a second, looked at me and very matter-of-factly said, "Just do the THING. Forget all the minutiae and details. All of that will take care of itself in time. Just do the THING that's the most important THING you need to do to turn your designs into a tangible object you can hold, feel, admire, and subsequently sell for profit. Then... Then you have a business."
I was a little taken aback. It was such a simple concept that made so much sense. As a creative type and designer my one job was to design and produce. I had been holding myself back with all of these tiny details that realistically would take no time at all to take care of once I had produced my own collection. So, I took his advice and did exactly that. I sourced a manufacturer and had my first piece made. Then I continued to design an entire collection and repeat the process.
If you're looking to launch your own business you have to find the THING and make that your soul focus. In my case the THING that I enjoyed, the THING I was good at and the THING I needed to focus all my energy on was to design and produce.
Why are you launching a business in this particular field you have chosen anyways?
Your answer should be:
1. Because I enjoy it
2. Because I'm freaking amazing at it
3. Because I want to be doing this for the rest of my life
4. Because it's who I am
I think this concept is especially important to apply to your work if you're a creative type e.g. artists, designers, singers, and performers. It's so easy to become derailed by the details involved with turning your creative talent into a business that you completely neglect the THING you were meant to be doing 24/7.
1. So, you want your own vintage furniture store on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach because you absolutely love vintage furniture and have a trained eye for unique, show-stopping pieces.
Great! Now, your job is to do exactly what you were already doing. Continue to shop for unique, vintage pieces, source the best possible vendors, and build the most amazing collection of vintage furniture Abbot Kinney has ever seen -- doing exactly what you were already doing.
2. You want to be a professional dance choreographer for hire because you've spent most of your life dancing and you are the bee's knees.
Amazeballs! Now, your job is to do exactly what you were already doing. You don't spend the vast majority of your time taking pricey headshots, sending out resumes and searching for an agent. You get your act on every social platform known to man and continue to dance your little (or maybe it's big) butt off. Without fail, you stick to a schedule and post a new, amazing, out-of-this-world, self-choreographed dance to YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You get the idea.
You're obviously going to have to focus on the minutiae at some point. While it's not what you want to be spending your time doing, it is an integral part of any business. For this reason I apply an 80/20 rule to my work life; 80% the THING and 20% minutiae.
Now, go on with your bad self and do the damn THING. - JC