The Secret to Starting
June 7, 2017
This is a piece I wrote and published over at Entrepreneur.com, too on April 28th 2017.
Starting something, whether it's a new business, developing a new product or service, a new exercise regime, meditation or a new morning routine is exciting, motivating and comes with a healthy dose of vision, too.
And these are the things that get us through the first week, the first two weeks, the first month and so on.
But things can get hard, or we're faced with a challenge that runs the risk of derailing us.
Or we simply lose focus because we feel like the challenge that we set ourselves is simply too much, we bit off more than we can chew.
These are things that everyone feels. Every single person, at some point, has felt like that – I have no doubt at all about that.
When it comes to starting your own business, creating a new product or trying to diversify your product range then these kinds of feelings can have a serious, tangible effect on your actual, real-life, cash flow too.
The great thing is that there are so many tactics and strategies that you can use to stay on track, but when we consider the notion of “starting” something, we're often viewing that from the perspective of stopping or certainly winding down, something else.
Take the example of starting your first business.
Typically that business started out as a side project, or something happened that forced you out of your previous job and caused you to decide to start something for yourself instead of finding another similar position elsewhere.
The bottom line is, starting your first business is a different rhythm to what you've been doing, usually.
It's an entirely different draw on your time, requires you to be focused and motivated; self-initiated and accountable to yourself.
And this is where problems can start. This is when the overwhelm can set in.
The secret to starting: finding your pace of change
“A change is as good as a holiday.”
Change is something that we should all embrace. But the truth is that we can't all embrace change in the same way, with the same processes and outcomes.
Change can be hard. When considering a switch into self-employment, change can be even tougher.
You have a myriad of things to worry about:
- Covering your bills.
- Finding out exactly what it is you want to do.
- For whom you will do it.
- Logistics of delivering it.
- Where to work from.
- How to attract customers.
The list is endless.
Change is a great thing, but it brings with it a whole range of new challenges, challenges that you simply may not appreciate or be ready for.
The secret to progressing through a period of change, namely starting your own business, when things appear insurmountable is to identify your own “pace of change”.
What is “pace of change”?
Sadly, so many new business owners give up too soon because the level of change that they experience during those first few weeks and months simply becomes too much for them.
Just like diving back into a gym routine and expecting to lift the same amount of weight as you did when you were at your peak will feel impossible to start with, expecting to begin a new business, create your own personal routine within your business and identify the tasks you need to accomplish every single day to keep that business moving forward will feel uncomfortable.
But discomfort is to be embraced, learned from and worked through.
The real issue isn't the discomfort at all. The real issue is that we can easily compare ourselves to those around us, those we see online and anyone else, frankly, that we feel is “better” than us.
As so, we become frustrated by the progress that we're making. But rather than assess progress against our own previous milestones, we assess it against the perceived success of everyone else.
The result of this is that we force ourselves into a pace of change that can be too fast for us.
Everyone approaches change at their own pace. The secret to maintaining some early stage sanity and focus is to realise what YOUR pace of change is.
How much can you embrace before you feel the overwhelm?
Where is your line?
How much change can you take before you start to revert back to your default, “employed” behaviour?
Be mindful of your body and listen to what your mind is telling you. Trust your gut instinct and allow yourself to accept that change, in this context, is allowed to happen gradually.
The key lies in prioritising what needs doing versus what you can actually accept as part of your new routine.
Your responsibility is to carry out tasks, every single day, that move the needle in your business, and those should be prioritised above all else.
If you're too focused on being “the ultimate entrepreneur” and emulating the success that you see online from people who have been doing it for years, then you will create a pace of change that is simply too fast for you.
Likewise, if you try to accelerate towards your vision TOO quickly, you could again force a pace of change that you're not comfortable with.
There's a difference between being motivated, driven & results oriented and trying to do too much, too soon.
Your pace of change is the speed at which you can embrace your new routines, new approaches and processes whilst still being focussed on creating & measuring results.
This balancing act is key in the early days of your first business and without it, one side will take over: you will focus FULLY on results and realise that you let the backend of your business slip, only to watch it push you into a burnout, or you will focus entirely on the “feel good” work on the backend of your business, not separating what needs doing, from what you like doing and you'll find yourself left with no cash in the bank, really quickly.
Find your pace of change, and learn to listen to it.
Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!