When to Begin? How About Now?

You don’t have to have everything figured out in advance. Small steps eventually lead to conquering enormous mountains.

 

How many excuses do you think there are for not starting a business, or launching a new venture or initiative?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this number may be one of those ad infinitum situations. Excuses are easy to come by, but excuses don’t build dream companies, nor do they create change in anyone’s life. So, if there is some idea that has been nagging at you, some creative idea you want to explore or a new business that is fueling you with a passion, today may be the day to flip the switch and start turning your dream into reality.

Whoa. I hear those voices in your head and that cacophony of reasons why you can’t do that thing you really want to do just hit me hard.

“But I don’t know how.”

“I’m not sure how to get started.”

“I don’t know if there is a market.”

“I’m not experienced enough.”

“Someone else is already doing this (bigger, better, etc.)…”

What if I fail?

A million phrases like these prevent the majority of people from ever starting anything, but I’m sure that we can also agree that anything that currently exists was started from nothing. How many startups began in garages, coffee shops, bedrooms?

How many people just got on with it and figured it out?

See, I believe that it is not necessary to have every step of your journey mapped in advance. In fact, I think that knowing all those steps up front is practically impossible. Sure, you can plan and strategize, but you’re never going to be able to accurately predict every detail of your journey, and believe me, even if you could do that it wouldn’t be wise.

If you really knew up front how everything was going to play out, where would be the room for spontaneity, for miraculous serendipities and coincidences, for things to turn out far better than you were even imagining?

I think that, rather than waiting until you think you have the “how” all figured out, that a better strategy is just to start. Start by figuring out what success looks like – what your vision is, and decide that “this or something better” is what you’re going to create.

Then the fun begins and it’s just a matter of taking little steps towards your goals. Figure out small “bite size” things that you can do to support your dream on a daily basis. You might call someone up to ask advice, or put up a simple website. You might send out ten emails and follow up with calls. You might do a free talk or offer a class to your community. Maybe you start a blog or just start talking about your new venture and watch who starts showing up to support you. When you start to see the journey as the fun part you begin to shift your whole attitude. Instead of focusing on how far you are from the top of the mountain and how many thousands of steps it’s going to take to get there, you begin to see the whole trek as an adventure of epic proportions, and rather than dreading the start you begin looking forward to whatever lies before you.

This, my friend, is how great adventures begin and how great businesses are born – with an inspired idea and a determination to make it work. But please, whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy the journey and to stay open to new opportunities along the way. You’ll be amazed at what starts to show up.

Good luck and bon voyage!

Elin Barton is a graduate of Cornell University (ALS ’91) and the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program. She enjoys speaking engagements and is finishing her first book, Ready, Set, Grit, which is due out in the fall of 2017. Elin is the CEO of White Knight Productions, Inc., a marketing and video production firm, and she also provides business training and coaching to entrepreneurs and corporate clients. Find links to Elin’s social media, her weekly podcast series and more at elinbarton.com.

Can You Create a Business that is Both Successful and Mindful?

Today is March 25 which means it’s a mere 87 days until summer’s official start, and there are only 39 more weekends before you’ll be opening Christmas presents again (just 38 weeks until the first day of Hanukkah!)

That’s pretty shocking, isn’t it? But I hope that instead of causing you to have a mild anxiety attack I can convince you of the importance of living in the moment and enjoying today for the miracle that it is. I recently read something that said if we only had seven more days on earth that we would surely make the effort to see all seven of those sunrises AND sunsets. We’d take the time to sit with loved ones, holding hands, hugging, talking… We’d eat ice cream, laugh and cry. The moments would be meaningful and our senses intensified to notice every detail, every nuance and bit of beauty.

The “small stuff” (i.e. most of what takes our attention on a daily basis) would seem insignificant as we got back in tune with that which really matters. I like to think that we would be kinder, more loving, more intentional with our thoughts and actions. In our “normal” every-day life, however, we tend to live with the illusion that we have all the time in the world. So often you hear about someone who gets a terminal diagnosis only to go on to say that in fact, that news was the best thing that could have happened to them because of the way it changed their entire outlook and life experience.

Without getting too esoteric, I would like to suggest that we don’t need the knowledge of a diagnosis or the threat of having just a week left on earth to decide to be more conscientious, mindful, and committed to finding in our work a real alignment with our true purpose.  I believe that business and the higher sense of purpose/ spirituality/ mindfulness are all intertwined and actually lead to better business decisions and a stronger brand and culture overall.

I have to be honest and say that a few years ago the main reason I was running my business was for profits. With my eye firmly on the bottom line I lost sight of the more important questions of our mission, how we were serving our customers better than anyone else could, and how we were ultimately going to give back to the community in a meaningful way.  During the past 18 months or so my business underwent a major shift that allowed me to rediscover the company’s core values, and to make decisions based on how aligned they were with those values. I stopped chasing the wrong clients and started doing the work that felt meaningful and important.

When this happened I started seeing some very interesting results. More of the right kinds of clients started finding us, which meant that I had to spend less of my time and energy on business development. Profits started climbing and the work started becoming fun again. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night now and start working on my laptop, not because I am stressed and worried, but because I am inspired and have so many ideas for our clients that I want to get them all down before I forget them. I rediscovered a passion for the work that I hadn’t experienced for a long time, and I think that for many of us that is the elusive element, the thing that got away, the answer to everything.

Rediscovering the passion and the purpose doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your job or starting a whole new company. It can, instead, be just a small shift that brings it all back into alignment. The first step is raising your awareness that something more really is possible and then it’s a matter of taking mindful and intentional steps towards discovering (or rediscovering) your mission and purpose and aligning everything and everyone with that vision.

Elin Barton is a graduate of Cornell University (ALS ’91) and the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program. She enjoys speaking engagements and is finishing her first book, Ready, Set, Grit, which is due out in the fall of 2017. Elin is the CEO of White Knight Productions, Inc., a marketing and video production firm, and she also provides business training and coaching to entrepreneurs and corporate clients. Find links to Elin’s social media, her weekly podcast series and more at elinbarton.com.

 

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