Getting in motion
Here is a letter that came in from a reader recently:
- Hello. I have read your article on "how to make a million dollars" article and I disagree with your article. The "tone" of the article seems to be that it is easy to make it a million dollars, and that we are oblivious to the obvious. As the article suggests, I have read some of the titles listed on your articles. Your article and the books have dramatically changed my view of the business world, but still i have not started a business. The problem I have with your article along with some of your suggested reading is that it doesn't deal with the fears/motivations of starting a business. Yes, there were sections where the books and your article "instructs" us to lose our fears and keep trying. Frankly, I was not motivated nor saw a decrease in any of my fears of starting a business.
Currently, I am even more frustrated now that i seem to know what to do, but i cant act upon it because I am still fearful and confused about the whole thing. I tried to overcome this fear my overloading my mind with information, but it just led to more confusion. How do you deal with this information overload and how do you truly get rid of the fear of starting your business. Although i am rambling about my confusion, I would actually like to thank you for your perspective and insight. As a suggestion, what if you wrote a book or an article regarding this confusion? I have a feeling that information overload/ confusion seems to be common among the hungry and fearful learners trying to "perfect" information into experience.
Thank you for reading my babbling.
There are two things that are important in this letter, the first general and the second specific. Here is the general part: If you can look at your life, your business, your situation, whatever and you can say to yourself, "I have a problem, and the problem is ____," you are often 80% of the way to solving your problem. If you: a) can recognize that you have a problem and then, b) clearly articulate it, the fact that you have recognized and articulated is enough to get a solution rolling. In a lot of cases, simply stating the problem in English is enough to present an immediate solution, because many problems just are not that hard to solve. Recognition is often the hard part.
So in the case of this letter, the problem has now been clearly articulated. One problem is "fear of the unknown". That is leading to another problem – "inability to get anything in motion because fear gets in the way." In addition there is the "way too much information" problem. Fortunately, all three of these problems are solvable. Here are three specific suggestions:
- Start small. Do something very simple in the business sense to get some positive momentum going. How simple? I might go down to a local flea market that has a lot of people flowing through on a Saturday, spend $10 of $50 or whatever it costs to rent a space, and try selling something. Anything. Go buy bananas and bottles of water at a local wholesale club and try selling them at the flea market. Sell hot wheel cars that you buy at Wal-Mart. Sell motor oil. It doesn't really matter at the start, and it is quite likely that your first idea will not work. Spend a day walking around and see what other people are selling if you have no idea what to sell.
One of two things may happen: 1) No one buys anything, or 2) Some people actually do buy things. In either case, try playing with your prices and see what happens. Try selling different products. Try giving away certificates with the hot wheel cars and instructions with the motor oil. Just have fun with it and learn from it.
What you have done is profound: You have just started a business. Try to make it successful in the sense that, after all your expenses, you make a profit and you get paid for your time. Work at it over a couple of months. See what happens.
Now that you have started one business, try to take the lessons you have learned and start one that is a little more complicated. And just keep moving up the scale.
[If you have kids, I would suggest that you let them try a flea market business now, while they are young. They will be ahead of the game when they get older.]
- There is a lot to learn. You are not going to read, say, 5 books and have it all make sense in 10 minutes. Accept that. Re-read the books several times. It will get clearer. Note that it can take a hundred hours of practice playing a video game like Halo to get good at it. Don't expect that "learning how to start a business" is going to take 25 minutes.
- Find a sympathetic someone who has a business that is working and ask questions. Lots of questions. Work for the person on nights/weekends if need be. See a real business in operation. Understand all of the business's moving parts. Understand how cash flows in and out the door.
Fear can be a terrible deterrent. One way to eliminate fear is practice. Simply start doing something today. Once you are in motion, stay in motion by doing a little bit every day. Every moment that you are in motion you are learning something, and those lessons will pay off down the road.