Updated: Sep 9
By Paula Blair and Christine Crispino
My blog partner, Christine Crispino, and I are writing to help people out there who felt like we did. We had a great idea, but were scared to death to move it forward. We were afraid to talk about it, we were afraid to take any steps toward making any decision about it, we were AFRAID! For more on what prompted us to move out of fear mode into seeing our new businesses a reality, check installment 1 in this series at https://www.soarco-working.com/blog.
This Go/No Go installment is the second in the series. It's about making the first and perhaps the biggest decision about your great big hairy scary idea! We're sharing our experiences. The process can and probably will be different based on how you make decisions and the type of business you're considering. Whether you follow this process or one of your own, you need to commit to taking a few steps.Determine MilestonesBelow, we’ll work through a set of Milestones that can help you decide to take the leap and move your dream forward. First, put your fear in the back seat of your ride…just long enough to think through some things clearly. Here's the secret. Give yourself the permission and freedom to THINK about your great idea. One way to do that is to set some incremental milestones. Commit the resources, whether it's your time, emotional involvement, or financial investment, into getting through Milestone #1. Once you're there, you can make the decision on whether your great big hairy scary idea has enough merit to commit the resources to get to Milestone #2, and so on until you've completed all the steps you need to make your Go/No Go decision.Visualizing is a very powerful tool. In the infancy of your big idea, visualization is frequently a key step of the decision-making process. Sometimes you do it without even realizing that you are doing it.
For example, for years before deciding to open her own law practice, Christine would find herself daydreaming about a life where she could tailor her own client’s needs based on her expertise and set her own schedule. She would imagine each detail of her home office space…the desk, the chair, the shelving, and even the decorative accents. Visualizing might seem silly, but the more you imagine what you want, the less scary and more real it becomes in your mind. "No Go" is an OK DecisionThe whole purpose of this exercise is to make a great decision. Not all ideas should be fully executed! This process allows you to stop at any point your great big hairy scary idea starts to look like it may not be a good one. "No Go" is OK! After reaching the "No Go" place, you can be proud that you stepped over the fear and gave this idea the attention it deserved. Job well done! You have not failed. As a matter of fact, you have succeeded and cleared the room in your head for your next great big hairy scary idea.
Milestones for a great big hairy scary idea:Milestone #1 - Do a Brain DumpIn
Milestone #1 you should come up with a list of questions that need to be answered before you move forward. However, this is not the time to let self-doubt defeat you! Try to imagine answering your questions as if a friend asked you, or as if you are a third-party observer to the conversation. The goal is to be as objective as possible. If you need some help getting started, begin by answering these questions: · What is your idea? · Why is it important to you? · Why is it important to your community/culture/product? · Is there an unmet need your idea would fill? · Is the idea a short-term project or a long-term endeavor? · Is it for profit or not for profit? · Would you be a lone wolf, or is there a franchise to join? All great big hairy scary ideas have their own list of questions begging to be asked. Figure out what they are, assess the answers, and make your first decision. Does this idea speak to your heart and your head loudly enough to move to Milestone #2?
Milestone #2 - Research· Seek wise counsel! Gather some of your really smart friends. Not the friends who always give you feedback you want to hear, but the friends who love you enough to tell you when an idea is stupid. Share with them your idea, the questions and answers discussed above, any information you’ve gathered about the proposed business and industry, and the findings of your research. Depending on the industry you intend to enter, several industry-specific journals exist and are a good resource for you to use as part of your research! A good internet search and even stop at your local library can do a world of good in answering some of your preliminary questions about your new venture as well. Then, armed with the information, seek the advice of those you trust to help you navigate the information with an objective mind. Share your fears. Now isn't the time to hold back. Lay all your fears on the table and let them help you process the good and the bad. Ask your trusted advisors open-ended questions, and this group of super smart people will share their experiences, knowledge and opinions with you. Listen to them!· How Risky Is it? Does the unknown stir up fear in your heart? Planning ahead for possible bad outcomes changes the unknown into planned possibilities. Is there a Project Manager in your life? Asking for their help in building a Risk Analysis Plan will help you know:o what is the probability a risk will occur, ando the impact of that risk if it occurs.Get it all out of your head and down on paper.
Low probability and low impact risks are no longer scary. High probability and high impact risks can be planned for and mitigated. This little paragraph isn't enough for you to complete this milestone, but it is enough to get you started. There are many tools online to help you analyze the risk of your great big hairy scary idea. Don't let it overwhelm you. You don't need a complete plan at this point. Your goal is to know what the risk is, know what the risk can cost you (time, money, reputation), and know if you can defer, mitigate or compensate for that risk. You can find an online process at https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1864/Developing-a-Risk-ManagementPlan.pdf. Most decision-makers can use the first five steps and get enough information on their risk to clear this milestone.So, how do you feel after getting the risk out of your head and down on paper? Based on your wise counsel's feedback and your own assessment of the risks, is it time to dive into the next milestone, or is it "No Go"?
Milestone #3 - Funding Your IdeaHow Will I Pay for It? Great question! I think maybe a good question to ask at this point is "how much can I afford to lose?" There are very big decisions to make.Before you can answer the question above, "It" must have a monetary value. At this point, you should have some rough ideas about start-up costs and monthly costs. Take the time to prepare these documents. They will have a huge value to you, and if you're seeking investors, they may ask for them before deciding to give you their huge pot of money.·
Start-Up Budget. In this budget include everything you need get to your first day of business. It should include amounts for legal work, corporate filing and set-up fees, insurance, deposit on a commercial lease, rent, signage, payroll pre-opening, advertising, website related expenses, accountant, licensing (federal, state, county, city), furniture, utilities, franchise costs, etc. You'll have people in your life who are subject matter experts at some of these things. Talk to them! They'll feel privileged you sought their expertise.·
Monthly Projected Income. In all of these projections there is a lot of guess work. Estimate your monthly income by service or product for the first 3 years. It'll either make you feel good or make you feel sick! That's OK. When you make your Go/No decision you want it to be hatched from great research, strategic planning, and realistic goals.·
Monthly Projected Expenses. Refer back to your Start-up Budget. It'll be helpful in laying out what your ongoing expenses will be. Just like you did with your Monthly Projected Income, estimate your expenses for the first 3 years.·
Prepare your Operations Budget. Combine Your Projected Income and Projected Expenses for a Budget.Can you fund your start-up on your own? Can you supplement the monthly income for the first year? If either of these answers is "no", you have options. You can find investors, you can take out a loan, or you can make the "No" decision. Investors can be a blessing or a headache. Research this option heavily! Certainly a few meetings with subject matter experts would be helpful. Talk to your Accountant, your Business Attorney, your Banker, your Commercial Realtor, the Small Business Association, and anybody else you can think of to gather the needed information.
Do You Try To Get Funding? Refer back to your "How Risky Is It?" milestone. What insight does it give you? Don't make this decision solely on your gut. Talk to your wise counsel, your Accountant, your Business Attorney, your Financial Advisor, a commercial property developer, and anyone else you can think of that is relevant to your business venture. After gathering options and feedback, make the decision. Is it time to officially seek funding? Is it still scary? Absolutely! The fear may still there, but remember you're making your Go/No Go decision incrementally. You're still not committing to starting this business. You're just checking to see if there are people out there willing to financially back you if you do. This is where the dream can become reality, or it can die. That's OK! Face this hard step and you'll be closer to your final Go/No Go decision!
You're Funded! Congratulations!!! You sought out financial backing and found some. What's your decision? Go or No Go? We would love to hear about your decision. Please comment on the blog!
Let's Get This Party Started, or Not! At the Go/No Go point in my odyssey, I was still crazy scared. I plowed through the fear and made the "Go" decision based on great things I discovered while traveling through my milestones. My husband was and is 100% behind me and is my biggest encourager. My 12 super smart friends were rooting for me all through the decision phase, and are still staunch supporters today. My Accountant was crazy-excited when I talked to him about my business because it's "different" and "unusual" and "needed"! My Financial Advisor took a look at my financial position and became a cheerleader too. But above all, I give the credit for the journey, the decision, the funding, and the successes to God. I knew this wasn't something I could do alone, and sensed His presence and approval each time a barrier was cleared or something that seemed too monumental to overcome became easy.For Christine, the “Go” decision came after a long time spent in each Milestone. Along the way, creating lists and different “what if” scenarios helped to calm some of the fear. She dedicated part of her research and counseling into looking at different negative outcome scenarios. For her, it was easier to determine whether the decision was a “Go” if she could visualize, in a detailed way, what things might look like if they went wrong. This approach may not be helpful for everyone, but it was definitely a big help for stomping on self-doubt.
"Go! Decision Made - it’s time to ramp up!" is the title of our third installment in the "Want Your Dream to Come True? Defeat the Self-Doubt Monster!" series will be coming soon! In that installment we’ll get much more detailed in not only the emotional steps related to the start-up phase, but the technical and legal aspects that must be considered to set you up with the best chance for a successful launch. Please watch for it.
Paula Blair's business, SOAR Co-Working Inc. loves to give tours. Please browse the website and sign up for a tour at www.soarco-working.com.