Here are the facts. I’ve started a few businesses. I’ve found my share of success. I’ve failed a few times. I’ve sold businesses. I’ve made my share of profits, and I’ve experienced a number of “red lines”, so much so I’ve sweated out a few hairy situations along the way. I’ve done the creative thing, I’ve done the technology thing. I’ve jumped on at the start of trends, and I’ve jumped off before trends hit rock bottom. I’ve also been burned a couple of times by completely missing the trends, but that’s another story.
I was talking with a woman the other day about her dream business. She’s owned her own business for years, but it’s a brick and mortar business – almost more of a job than a business – where she sees clients one on one, every day of the week. If she wants more income, she needs to meet more clients. She’s tired of it and wants to reinvent her business to put more time into her day, and give herself more freedom to pursue the others things in life she’s been dreaming about for years. But she’s scared. What if…
Look, the what if’s can drive you crazy.
And the what if’s are only there because you put them there. Your fears are holding you back from your true potential.
I’ve been there. I’ve reinvented my business again and again to get where I am today. In fact, I’m reinventing my current business as we speak. (Or as I write and you read as the case may be.) Through everything I’ve done, and with what I’ve learned by talking to many other women who have gone through the process as well, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me understand reinvention is a process. No matter what, you have to take certain steps.
A) Reinvention is always in action
Every single day you wake up to new ideas and new opportunities. The concept of reinvention is to learn which have potential, which to pursue, and which to incorporate into your life.
B) The bigger the reinvention, the more time it takes
Nobody – NOBODY – gets to the ultimate success level without pain and hardships along the way. You know these “I went from nothing to a million in 10 days” stories? Nope, not true. If you research them a little, you’ll find that they’ve had huge successes behind them in similar paths/industries. They’ve learned the “plug and play” methods to what they do. Once they perfect it, they do it. And they fill you with the concept that they are an “overnight success” story. You don’t recover from divorce overnight. You can’t recover from cancer by taking a pill. You can’t start a business and expect a million dollars in your first week out the door (unless you have A LOT of support behind you). The more change you want in your life, the more you’ll have to work for it.
C) You have to build your map
What do you want and how will you get there? If you don’t define it, it won’t happen. Its like starting out on a road trip, hoping to get to the Grand Canyon, yet all you do is hop in your car and make right turns. Now maybe, depending on where you live, all you need is a series of right turns to get to the Grand Canyon. But I’m willing to bet you’d be a lot more effective with a map and a little thought process behind it.
D) You can’t do it alone
Ever sat in a corner in your room expecting something great to happen? Doesn’t work very well does it. The only way to move forward is to talk with people that are doing the same things as you, with people who have experience doing what you want to do, and learning from those around you. Does that mean hiring people to provide you with “a-ha” moments? Yep, is there any other way?
E) Choose lots of mentors
The bigger your change, the more people you need to expose yourself to and learn from. No, this isn’t friends you’ve had from childhood, or the mentor that helped you start your last business. This means finding fresh faces that can get inside your brain and make some serious changes. If you aren’t reading a book every week, do it now. Even a great fiction book can open up your mind and have it say – “hey, maybe I need to write fiction books”. Okay, that might not be your thing, but having a new opportunity can make you look at things in an entirely different way. Read books. Watch movies – documentaries are great. Watch TED videos. Go to local Meetup groups and learn something new. Hire a mentor that will open you up to new possibilities. When you want change, you have to throw yourself at it every single day.
F) Stop trying to find your passion and do something instead
One of the biggest holdbacks is assuming your passion will hit you over the head one day. It won’t. Instead, keep trying new things; eventually something will connect and say “do it this way”. If you’re not passionate about your current business any more, what about it do you love? What else in your life excites you?
G) Use other people as inspiration
Do you use a feed reader to follow favorite blogs? If not, do it today. I use Feedly and am happy with it, though you can use whatever you like. I’ve created a variety of categories, then I place interesting blog feeds in them for future inspiration. I have categories set up for business, crowdfunding, health and wellness, food, travel, social networking, photography, arts and crafts, just to name a few. Then when I’m out perusing online, and I find a blog that I enjoy, I link it back to Feedly. When I need a little inspiration in my day, I head over, choose a category, choose a blog, and start reading. It’s a simple way to get inspired when you need it most.
Want a few to follow? I’ll bet you’ve never seen these before:
H) You need to do something totally wild and crazy.
Like doing something you’ve never done before – tango lessons anyone? How about kayaking down a river? Or driving an indie car? If someone ever says to you “I would never do that”, that’s your queue to make sure you do it first.
I) Reinvention takes time
Let’s say you live to be 100. You work from 22 to 72. That’s 50 years of your life dedicated to making money. So in that spectrum, 3 to 5 years isn’t a long period of time. Yet when most people want to reinvent themselves, they get frustrated when things don’t happen in weeks or even a few months. Why? With years to go in your 50 year journey, 3 to 5 isn’t that long at all.
It takes a few months to flail around and figure things out. It takes a few more months to second guess yourself again and again. It takes a few months after that to start creating a solid plan. Throw in a few more months to make others start noticing you. And finally, a few more months to start reaping the rewards of your success.
You can’t bypass it, so why not start flailing around today.
J) When should you start?
No better time than the present, right?
K) What should I do first?
Most people that own businesses have no shortage on the idea front – ideas pop up all the time. The problem lies in choosing an idea and running with it until you have success. Commit to one idea. Even if it isn’t an idea you’ll run with long term, look at all you’ll learn from it and how it will change you?
L) How do I know if it’s working?
Have faith. I spent months blogging when the only other person reading my posts was my husband. (He’ll confess he didn’t even read them all – he simply posted them and helped me get them into social media.) So? I knew what I wanted in the end, and posted regularly to build up my own internal system. It made me a better writer (which is something I wanted) and it helped me put a system in place to use blog posts as a primary marketing tool. The rest came when it was time.
M) What if I need the money and the money isn’t coming?
This is what separates the entrepreneurs from the jobholders. When the going gets tough, an entrepreneur will do whatever it takes to live and work on their idea one more day. A true jobholder will simply go get a job for safety and security. Now I’m not saying you might not have to work at Starbucks a little to pay the bills. But if you ever focus in on finding the “right” job, it will take away all of your focus on the direction your business is going. If you’ve reached the point of throwing in the towel, tired of it all, and wanting a normal every week paycheck rather than continuing down the path in front of you, you’ll have to start the reinvention process all over again.
N) What if your spouse/significant other doesn’t support your reinvention?
Do it anyway. If you find success in your new path, he/she may just come on board when they see your results. And if they never do, that’s a telltale sign for you anyway.
O) What if your friends don’t get what you’re doing?
Find new friends.
P) How do I know if I have something that will be successful?
First, define your level of success. Do you want $100,000 to let you have freedom to travel a little and buy the things you desire? Do you want a $1 million company to help people on a bigger level? Or do you want to play really big – a $1 billion company? By defining it, you know what to reach for and how far away you are from the finish line.
Second, you have to sell. Does anyone want to buy? Do they like what you offer? Will they recommend it to their friends? Can you sell it again and again?
Q) I was much younger when I started my first company. What if I’m too old to reinvent?
There is no such thing as too old anymore. If you truly feel that way, it may be time to revisit H above and realize you’re never too old to do anything! We’re living longer than ever. We’re made to reinvent again and again. Get going today – you’ll only be a little older tomorrow.
R) There are a lot of other people out there with my current idea. Will I actually be successful?
Competition is a good thing. How many people do you really need to run a successful company – 100? 1,000? 10,000? With 7 billion people in the world, I’m willing to bet you can find those people if you know how to look for them.
S) I can’t find my current idea anywhere. How do I protect my idea and keep it all to myself?
Is it truly a unique idea or have you just not found it out there yet? Very few ideas are totally unique and completely new. Even major breakthroughs are usually built on someone else’s failures. If it is a new invention or something that can be trademarked or patented, by all means do so. If not, get over it and just move forward. The winner is the one who creates the most business from an idea anyway.
T) My old business worked – I have clients in place and business coming in. I don’t know a lot about all of this new stuff like Facebook and YouTube.
Learn about it. Take a class. Set up a channel. If you don’t “get it”, hire someone who does and have them show you the ropes. You’d be surprised how much you can learn if you just take it one step at a time.
U) What happens when you get frustrated?
Jump up and down. Scream. Go for a walk. See E or G or H above. Go out and fly a kite. Take the dog for a walk. Eat an ice cream sundae. And when its finally late in the evening, go to bed and sleep through the night. Chances are your frustration will have a different vantage point in the morning.
V) Will I get bored with this idea in a few years?
Probably. That’s the thing about reinvention. You have to do it again and again and again and again and again …
W) What if I’m not ready to have employees again?
Welcome to 2015. Employees are quickly becoming the thing of the past. Freelancing is what its all about now.
When you’re good at what you do, you can build your own business around it, charge what you deserve, and be as good as you can. That’s conducive to our new environment where employers don’t provide security in the way they once did.
If you need help, hire a freelancer or other entrepreneur to do it. Hire a virtual assistant. Get only the help you truly need; pay for the skills and tasks you only need completed.
X) I know business. I’ve done it before. But it isn’t happening this time around as quickly as it did the last.
Things change. Times change. People change. We live in a different world, have to market in different ways, and have different aspirations from the people we were even a few short months ago. Because of all this, your business today won’t be done in quite the same way as it was when you first started up a business years ago. What you learned will come in handy – marketing, sales, business, they never change. Only the tools you use and the approach you take will.
Y) Did attention spans change or is it just me?
Ah, you’ve noticed that too? I remember with my first business, I could capture someone’s heart and create a whole bunch of raving fans around me. Today, things are quicker/faster in an unbelievable way. You have to be there when they want you, talk in the voice they want to hear, offer what they desire, and just as quickly change when they want something new. People are in it for themselves, so adjust.
After all, you’re in it for you too … admit it, you are!
Z) Will this business be as successful as my last business?
Depends on how you define success.
When I was in my 30s, I wanted a big house, nice cars and lots of stuff.
Just a couple of years ago, I sold my big house, sold off all but one old paid off car, and got rid of two-thirds of my stuff.
Things change. Your opinions change. Your goals for life change. Success is relative depending on your desires.
The only question is – what do you desire?