This is not a post about gardening, but it is amazing how many similarities there are with gardening and starting a new business. You need patience, hard work, commitment, the ability to visualize the garden to know where to plant, and of course anticipate good weather. In business it is the same. There is a lot of time when it seems like nothing is happening. You begin to think, is there something more I could be doing? Am I doing something wrong? Is it me? Why is no one returning my calls?
The truth is that there is a time for planting and it is perfectly normal not to see any immediate returns. The most important thing is that you believe and expect things to turn around. There is no point getting depressed, thinking that this is not working and giving up too early. Gardeners expect the plants to sprout and know without a doubt that they will see results. In business, it is the same. It is as much a mental game as and intelligence game. (Actually I would say that it is 80% a mental and attitude game).
Here are some tips that I wanted to share:
1. Take one day at a time
This may sound like a no brainer but when you are starting a business it is such a steep learning curve that it can be overwhelming. You want to do everything at once. There are so many things that need to be done. Branding, website, business card, Quick Books, etc., are all necessary but you have to pace yourself. One way of managing this is to write down (and maybe this is more psychological than anything) what you can realistically get done in a week and then each day list what you are going to do. Simply prioritize every hour of the day. Keep things that are going to create revenue first, followed by things that you need but may not generate immediate revenue. For example, first should be proposals, followed by any marketing activity (business cards, branding), cold calls and investigative meetings.
2. Visualize what you want to happen
This may sound weird but it is actually the key to succeeding in anything you want in life. You really have to believe what you want is possible for you and actually see in your mind what it might look like. Visualization is the most powerful thing you can do to create anything you want in your life.
3. Follow up on every lead
You never know who you will meet and who will introduce you to your next client, business partner, or someone you will learn something from. Be sure to follow up on every contact and also don’t be afraid to ask people for their advice and recommendations on who they think you should talk to. People love giving advice and if they can introduce you to someone then you must follow through on it.
4. Follow your gut
Another cheesy cliché but this is so important. If a person you haven’t seen in a while suddenly comes into your head or you think of a business idea, then follow up on it. This has happened to me a number of times and just last week it happened again. This particular opportunity could lead to some huge opportunities for Sugarfly. I was thinking about this person that I had met three years ago while on vacation in Jamaica. We had kept in touch but I was wondering how a project he had told me about was going. So on my list of things to do I wrote to follow up with him. Without me doing anything he contacted me the next day and asked me whether I would be interested in helping him with a project in Jamaica. Um, yes, of course I would! Last Sunday I went to Jamaica to meet with him and his company. I can’t stress this enough, always follow your gut!
Finally, I wanted to end with this post with a video I saw of a keynote that Elizabeth Gilbert (Author of Eat, Pray, Love) did at TED in 2009. In the video she talks about writers specifically, and anyone in the creative world, but I believe everyone will get something out of this speech. The truth is we ALL have our bad days, writer’s block, and times when we question ourselves. Even the most successful people do. I love the way she explains her story in this clip.
For all small business owners out there, keep planting those seeds and you will be successful!