We just don’t know what would happen if we started a new venture. And that can be frightening.
We hear “start where you are” a million times. It means nothing until you do–actually-start somewhere. People want to create. People want to express themselves and to make money. They want to develop something of their own, no matter how small it is. Some harbor this desire for many years yet somehow never get to start anything. The layers of fear, over thinking, not knowing and paralysis are too thick.
A few months ago, a successful software sales person in his forties, let’s call him Jack, wanted a life change, less stress and less travel. Jack wanted to start a massage practice in his small town. Jack was a well -trained and licensed massage therapist, had a home office and a massage table, and all the pre-requisites of starting. He and his wife dreamed about this business for a long time. They discussed it for a long time. What would be the right name for their massage business, what would be the right amount to invest in the site, what would be the perfect design of the perfect massage room, and so on. Jack asked me for help.
These are the three questions I asked Jack when we met for coffee:
- Do you have an audience? Do you have customers—aka, do you know people who want to use and buy your service?
- Do you have the means to reach these people?
- Can you deliver on the promise you make?
It’s too easy, isn’t it? Or could be it so easy? That is what Jack asked, eyes bright with surprise and excitement. Well, let’s see the specifics of this case:
Do you have an audience?
I asked Jack to write down the names of 50 people he knew in his town or surroundings, people to whom he could send a personal note. Jack took the pen out and started to write. Turns out that he was pretty well connected in his town and well liked. Being well liked stopped him from telling people about the massage business. What if he would not be successful? What if they never bought a massage from him? He would be such a fool.
Do you have the means to reach these people?
Yes, Jack said. He mentioned a few groups and associations he belonged to and the few meetings where he would go in the next two weeks. I suggested he created very simple, inexpensive cards with his name and asked people to come try one discounted massage.
Can you deliver on the promise if people came for massage?
Yes, absolutely, if people are willing to try, I can give them a great massage. But, and his eyes darkened, but what if they do not come? And what about the website, I need a website and that costs $ 3, 000, at least– said Jack.
Well, there is only one way to know, right? Get a few people on the massage table.
But what about pricing, and scheduling and all the other challenges of a small business? Once you “test” if your product/service works, it’s time to work with the logistics. But if you never get to the first step, that of offering your work, your product, your service, you will never know.
A few months later, I heard that Jack started his massage business, and that it was going well. I noticed he posted it on Linkedin, too. I smiled. This true story may seem an oversimplification. But if you think of it, bigger and smaller dreams are dashed every day by not taking that one, first step. It’s as simple or as complicated as that.
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