Say Yes First and Figure It Out Later
Growing up, my mom always had a home office, and I would see her prepping for her next home party on a regular basis. Suitcases full of supplies, order forms and catalogues were scattered throughout her office and the basement. I can remember when our phone got a “double line” which meant freedom for me as a teenager because I could now use the phone whenever I wanted, provided I answered the other line professionally if it beeped. After all, that was her business line!
Years later I was having a conversation with my mom about her business. She sold needlecraft at home parties and was one of the top sales representatives in the country. She admitted to me that despite being the top sales rep, she could barely thread a needle.
She further went on to explain that she hired people on her team to complete the needlecraft samples and she focused on helping new associates build their businesses.
She then also reminded me that shortly after we moved to Calgary, she took a part time job as a tour guide of the surrounding area for foreign travelers.
Don’t tour guides need to be from the area they are giving tours in?
Both of these examples opened my eyes. I realized you don’t need to know everything in order to get started.
As I was nearing the end of my degree in Communications, I would periodically go to the job board to see what sorts of jobs I could apply for. All of them seemed so incredibly boring and it was confusing for me because all the other graduates in my program were clamoring to get interviews at big corporations. I was daydreaming about the entertainment newsletter I wanted to start up and distribute or the yoga studio/café/bar/event space I wanted to build or the eco-solutions I was going to create for my community.
I found myself moving away to a big city after graduating and my sister was in the film and TV industry. She mentioned the city needed a casting studio that was artistic and inspiring and thought I should open one.
Great, I knew nothing about casting or running a studio but, um, okay let’s find a space to lease!
We found a spot, did some renovations and opened up for business a few months later. I taught myself how to use a video camera, get ideal lighting for the actors and how to attract those big paying contracts from California.
Three years later, a buyer came along and asked if I would ever consider selling my business to them. It wasn’t even for sale but I learned it doesn’t have to be, in order to attract buyers!
After selling my casting studio business, it was time to figure out my next move. Should I go hang out on a beach in Thailand for a year or start up a new business? I was 50/50 on the decision but caught wind of an upcoming trend called “speed-dating” where groups of singles got together and went on minidates. How fun would that be?!
Great, I know nothing about running events or building a website but, um, okay let’s do up some business cards and start talking to the local media.
I ran my speed-dating business for 6 years and honestly loved every minute of it. I learned how to scale a business, attract media attention and make sure every guest had a great time. I also learned we sometimes get caught up in the unnecessary details we think clients and guests need, but actually don’t. For example, I assumed for years that including a drink in my event fee was helping me sell out events. Then I stopped including it and guess what, nothing changed.
My business caught the attention of a buyer and it was time, once again, for me to pass the reins and move on.
My next venture was becoming a coach for people’s dating lives. There weren’t any dating coaches in my part of the world and the only one I had seen in action was Will Smith in Hitch. Want to know the irony? I was a terrible dater. I didn’t understand men or how to be successful in relationships but boy, could I help you be successful! In fact, my speed-dating company was responsible for over 65 marriages and I have hundreds of success stories from my coaching clients. I eventually became a much better dater myself. 🙂
In all these personal examples, I am hoping you see a consistent theme. You can wait to know everything about a subject or a business or a service before you get started, or you can just say yes first and figure it out later.
So how can you apply my experiences to your business?
First, the comfort zone dilemma. Whenever I think about the correlation between comfort zones and success, I often think of athletes. For an athlete, consistently stepping out of their comfort zone means they are always progressing and always moving to the next level. In your business, do you think that always staying within your comfort zone will yield success? It just doesn’t work that way. You have to step out.
There will be times when you think to yourself, “I have zero clue what I’m doing – am I just being irresponsible? This is way harder than I thought!” And in those times, I want you to remember that yes, growth will inevitably be hard but step back and consider the alternative. A little secret about me is when I am feeling really stretched and almost ready to throw it in, I go to a job website and look at really boring job listings that I’m fully qualified for. This gets me back on track as to why I chose this path.
Lastly, operating a business while it is simultaneously evolving, growing or even being validated as a legit business is perfectly okay! I hope my examples have proven this. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But if it is for you, it’s a fulfilling and exciting ride, guaranteed.
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