First, a space to dream.
Before the legal paperwork is filed, before the spreadsheet numbers are crunched, before the marketing plan is put in place and employees are hired, there is something even more important that you need to do to start a business–you need to dream. If you want a solid, workable, and potentially profitable business plan you first need to visualize it.
I recommend to budding entrepreneurs to make space for their vision. That means putting aside a few minutes a day to just let your mind go there–to that business idea you’ve had rattling around in the back of your mind. Start simple at first. Maybe just an easy meditation. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out and allow yourself the space to see a flourishing business. Do this when you are in a somewhat relaxed state of mind. Where are you when you are busy at work in this place? Not only the city or town, but the setting. What does it look like? For instance, Is it a physical space? Or is it digital? Who are your customers? What does an interaction with them look and sound like.
After you’ve got a vision, consider writing it down. It is not unusual for entrepreneurs to write down their thoughts before they start the business, perhaps in a special notebook. If you aren’t much of a writer, consider other modes of expression: illustrations, mood boards, recording your voice as you brainstorm. Putting ideas somewhere other than our minds (paper, your notes app, your bulletin board, etc.) helps to solidify plans in your mind and lets you revisit those plans later.
OK, I get it. You are saying right now that you already know what you want to do. And you don’t have the time. But consider this: the vision makes it easier to reverse engineer the steps needed to get there. And you can’t reverse engineer what you don’t see. The saying “if you can dream it, you can achieve it” absolutely works here. Reverse Engineering means taking a dream and then working your way backwards step by step so that you have a “to do” list of how to achieve that end goal. This process can actually help troubleshoot problems too. For instance, if in your vision you already run into hiccups (i.e., customers who don’t pay, locations that aren’t optimal) then make note of those too. Putting words to anxieties you have about starting a business can help you come up with creative solutions and safeguards so that you don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
Be flexible! Your vision might change. As you meditate daily on this yet-to-be started business you might notice that there are different versions that change each time you think about your venture. Make note of them! How are they different? Why? And what are the common themes? By making note of the differences and the similarities you can help identify why this business is important to you.
And even more fundamental than this: dreaming is a verb. It is a space you are allowing yourself. If you can’t give yourself 10 minutes to ideate on a business plan, how are you going to actually start a small business? This is the first step to carving out time and space for your plan. It is about setting boundaries with others and giving yourself this gift. The more space and patience you give yourself during this early stage, the easier it will be for you to create a thoughtful, cohesive and profitable business plan.
You deserve this dream.
This piece was authored by Pamela Roskin. Pamela is a Facilitator for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. You can learn more about her by visiting her LinkedIn page.