The question of whether you’re ready to launch a small venture can feel really weighty. I’ve observed many people get stuck in various stages of preparation — research, or concept development, maybe working on the website — when in reality they could be signing clients or selling to customers and doing the work that they dream of doing. Often, I see folks actually doing the work, not just dreaming about it. Yet they still don’t feel ready to put themselves “out there.”
The truth is, “being ready” is a pretty fluid concept. For lots of folks taking the leap into self-employment, you just need to figure out when you’re ready enough.
An effective exercise for folks in the pre-start-up phase is to consider the following scenario: A friend of a friend emails you saying they want to buy the service or product that you offer. What would need to be in place (as in, be done and checked off your list) in order for you to take them on as a client/customer?
The interesting thing with this exercise is that for many small operations, it generally yields a fairly specific list of tasks that often aren’t that complicated and are eminently doable. Typical items on this list include:
- Need a standard contract to use with a client
- Need to finalize pricing
- Need a payment system for online sales
Another thing happens with this exercise, especially for freelancers and consultants: Tons of nonessential tasks that had been taking up valuable mental real estate start to fall away. Things like “finish the website” or “get business cards” or “hire a designer for a logo” are not that important at all in signing up that new client tomorrow. It helps highlight the truly essential tasks like having your standard contract done, and pushing them to the top of your priorities.
Yes, even the nonessential tasks should get done, and here’s where I think a lot of the psychic pitch and sway of self-employment resides: making decisions about what the next best moves are. But for the purposes of getting you over the start-up hump, considering the question “What’s the bare minimum I need in place to sign up a client tomorrow?” can really help crystallize that to-do list.
I talk about this and other manageable steps to start-up success in my monthly workshop, Start-up Strategies for Indies.
Whether you’ve already taken the leap into self-employment or are still in the idea stages, this workshop will orient you to the most important tasks and help you develop a plan for success, with your vision and values squarely in focus. Register here!