It is so hard to open a new restaurant when you need to find a physical location to rent, hire staff, acquire licenses, get inspected, etc.
It takes a long time to set up a new retail store, which is almost as complicated.
It’s challenging to launch a tech startup when you have to hire employees, find office space, and secure funding.
However, it’s pretty cheap and easy to test a location-independent solopreneur business idea. The biggest barrier is you.
Yep. The biggest barrier standing between you and your new business is you.
Your fear of failure.
Your ability to focus.
Your time management.
The tipping point will occur when the pain of your current situation is greater than your fear of the unknown. When the alternatives are so unpleasant, you blast right past your risk aversion.
I remember hitting that tipping point over seven years ago when my tech startup failed. I had spent a year winding things down, saying goodbye to my partners and employees, and working with my accountant and lawyer to turn off the lights for good.
It was sad, painful, and depressing.
The pain of staying in that situation was greater than any fear of the unknown. Anything was better than wallowing in my depression, thinking about my failed startup, and having no income to pay my bills.
I considered the alternatives.
Found a new startup and try to raise funding again.
Return to a job with a Silicon Valley tech company.
Take a job with a tech company somewhere else and relocate my family. Again.
Take a basic 9-5 job at a local business, but make way less money.
Or a fifth option, take a swing at launching a solopreneur coaching business and see what happens.
What did I have to lose? The first four alternatives seemed so unpleasant that I just went for it.
I crushed my perfectionism into a tiny ball and shoved it to the back of my mind. I could always make the business better and tune it as I went along.
My fear of failure? That was funny. I had already experienced a massive failure and the gut-wrenching embarrassment of my startup failing. Failure no longer had any power over me.
It’s a lot easier to focus when you fear you’re going to lose your home and won’t be able to feed your family. Everything became crystal clear.
I was “lucky” in one way, I guess, that time management was no longer a big issue. I could focus on building my new business, but I was spending some time exploring alternatives.
I swallowed my pride and closed the door on my 23-year tech career. It really did help to focus on helping other people. Being outwardly focused instead of inwardly obsessed.
So, if you’ve been thinking about starting a business but waiting and waiting for the right moment to do it, I highly recommend launching something smaller right away to test your ideas.
Do not wait until everything feels perfect. Do you know why? You are most likely going to change things, anyway. There is nothing like reality to shake up your business dreams.
Nothing beats interacting with real customers to figure out what they really want, what will really sell, and how you really want to operate your business. The sooner you get that feedback, the better.
I soft-launched my coaching business about seven years ago in October of 2016. I started when I wrote a Facebook post about defining the “Business of You” on Oct 14th.
When I talk about defining and creating the "Business of You," it's really about taking control and intentionally designing the career you want and the life you deserve.
All too often, I think we let the river of life take us where it will. Early in life, we build our little boat and set off from the shore where we think we want to go.
Then, life happens.
The education you choose pushes you in one direction.
The jobs you take push you even farther downriver in another direction.
You make minor course corrections as the river of life continues to flow. But, you start to realize that you're being carried inexorably towards a destination that you couldn't see when you first set off. And you now know that it isn't where you want to go.
Turning around and trying to row directly back upstream results in failure. People try. But, it's too hard, the flow is too powerful, and they tire and just give up.
That's what a lot of people do. They stay in the unpleasant "known" because of inertia and fear. It is just too hard to change.
I'm not going to lie and tell you that you can start over from scratch. You are no longer 18 years old with your entire future in front of you, standing before a blank slate.
You have decades of knowledge and skills and experience. You may think that can only be applied very narrowly to what you currently are and always have been. But that's not true. The "Toolbox of You" is invaluable and can be leveraged with great success in so many different ways.
You get to decide that. You may not be able to return to the beginning, but you can also do a lot more than just make minor course corrections.
It won't be easy. It will take effort and willpower and some bravery. But, you can adjust now and aim for a new destination. Use everything that you know now and make a better choice of where you want to be.
How do you want to live the rest of your life?
Where do you want to end up?
That can start today.
10 days later, I cross-posted the same content to create a native LinkedIn article. This time, I added a more specific call to action (i.e., CTA).
Ready to redefine your career and reclaim your life? I provide one-on-one career consulting for a limited number of clients. Let's talk to see if I can help you with your career transformation.
I landed my first retained client about two weeks later. About a month after that, I started hinting about my coaching topics on Twitter. I knew I was onto something that people needed, so I scaled up my writing and marketing efforts in a big way.
A few things to note:
I didn’t spend money on a new fancy coaching website. I just updated my WordPress site I had already been using for corporate consulting.
I was marketing for free by posting on LinkedIn and Facebook, then tweeting links to my LinkedIn articles on Twitter. Later, I started writing lots of articles on Medium.
I spoke to people’s emotions. How they might be suffering. How much better life could be.
I didn’t spend money on ads.
I didn’t do an aggressive sales pitch in my discovery calls. I just asked questions, listened, and helped people as much as I could during that call. Most people would then ask me how they could continue working with me.
I coached my first client over the phone (e.g., no Zoom).
I had no fancy payment gateway (e.g., clients mailed checks or used PayPal).
I didn’t have everything figured out. I learned and adapted while learning from each new client engagement.
You could research, study, and theorize about your business forever and still not know if it will really work. Or you can set aside your perfectionism, test some ideas, get feedback, and learn from the real market.
If your offer is helping people solve a problem, they’re happy and want more, and you’re attracting new clients, you’re onto something! If something isn’t clicking, make changes and try again. And again.
It sure is nice to dial in your business model and strategy while you’re still receiving a 9-5 paycheck. That keeps you from panicking, rushing things, and making poor decisions. Test and evolve things until you’re getting traction. Then, scale and decide when you’re ready to go all in.
It’s faster, easier, and cheaper than ever before to launch and test your business idea. I’m here to help and support you. My community of solopreneurs is here to encourage you. My workshop will help you get started.
What are you waiting for? 😊
I’m Larry Cornett, a coach who can work with you 1-on-1 to design, launch, and optimize your business. You might also be interested in my “Employee to Solopreneur” workshop. I live in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with my wife and Great Dane while running my businesses 100% remotely.