Updated: Oct 25, 2020
In times such as these, It’s not always easy to recognise the best of a situation. Under the relentless news barrage of Covid-19 statistics and developments, positivity and opportunity can be drowned out. We’ve seen some brief bloomings of joy: people making music from balconies and societies coming together to help the elderly. Let’s hope these are not fleeting occurrences. That’s why I believe it’s important to seize the opportunity in this unique circumstance of global quarantine. Now is the ideal time to sow the seeds of your future business.
We all have more time now, many of the usual drains on our time and energy have closed up. We have space for reflection and for fresh action. The first steps of enacting a business idea usually fall in the ‘when I find time’ column of our to-do lists. Well now this time has found us. The blog below will now not mention Corona too often, we’ve all heard enough. Instead it will focus on every other reason why now is the best time to start on your business idea.
All of us have dreams for the future, visions of how our life will turn out when ‘things fall into place’. Perhaps you dream of a version of yourself who is calm and ever-contented, or of a perfectly matched partner, but most often these dreams revolve around an unavoidable aspect of modern life: your work, your job, your career.
Work dreams in the 20th century featured job security, a high salary, a healthcare package and maybe a company car. The unfortunate reality is that work and our relentless professional pursuits have in fact become the “be all and end all” in our lives. That today we work to live and not the other way around.
Dreams in the 21st century look very different than they did a mere 2 decades ago.
● Self-autonomy - You can make the decisions about your life and your business, including the ability to work from home, or from the beach as a digital nomad.
● Self-chronology - choosing your own hours; making work fit around life not the other way around.
● Self-expression - your work should be an extension of who you are as a person, not in conflict with this.
Looking at the nature of today’s dreams you can see why our time has been dubbed the ‘Age of the Entrepreneur’. The work-life ambitions of the people of this ‘now’ are centered on the Self. It will always be more difficult to achieve all these self-based dreams within the confines of someone-else’s business. Looking into ourselves and our dreams at this moment in time, it seems that now is the time to start your own small business.
There are many more practical reasons for this detailed below, but from a psychological perspective, there’s just one problem.
People tend to draw a sharp line between their mundane current moment - ‘the now’, and their dream life that will someday occur - ‘the future’. This applies across all aspects of their life, from romance, to self-development, to their work.
We struggle to hold one concept in our mind that would bridge this gap forever:
‘The future’ is just many consecutive ‘now’s’ ultimately extending up till your eventual death.
This begs the question, what makes any other ‘now’ more suited to beginning your dream, to starting on your business idea, than this ‘now’, right now.
The blog below will journey from the inside outwards from the heart, mind, habits; then into external action, the power of first steps, the race you’re already in; finally, we’ll get concrete in the outside world, and why this global ‘now’ is fully geared for your entrepreneurial success.
At each level, we’ll go through and prove why now is the best time to get started on your own small business, or to become a true digital nomad, working from home, or whichever other wonderful place you might choose to travel to. The Entrepreneur Inside
Having a decent business idea is a real gift, but it’s a gift that can be easily squandered. If you procrastinate on it, this idea will stay in a mental or digital folder somewhere, it will gather dust and lose momentum. Instead, now is the time to conserve and magnify that initial energy, and it will more smoothly manifest into reality.
Putting things off is habit forming. We master what we practice, and so if we habitually practice procrastination, then we become master procrastinators. It’s very easy to get into a negative spiral of dithering and delay. Procrastination in one part of your life can seep into every aspect. Conversely, truly starting ‘the doing’ in one of life’s sectors will echo across other parts.
A strong business idea is something to be seized upon, starting earnestly on it can break this cycle and give you great onward momentum. The future I mentioned earlier, where ‘things fall into place’, will only happen when action in life truly begins. Creating a small business can be both the starter and the driver of that wider life pattern.
The inner ability to actually start is also a great acid test of whether you can summon what it takes to become a small business owner. In future, if you work from home, or wherever else, you will have to drive yourself onwards. Digital nomads need that fire of inner impetus, since they don’t have a boss or line-manager breathing down their necks, giving them targets, or setting personal KPIs. If you can’t start now, are you the right person to start at all?
Setting up a small business is as much a test of your inner self, as it is of your business idea or your business acumen.
‘Side hustle’ is not a new concept, even if the terminology is fresh, that ‘leftover’ time and energy has spawned many great businesses over centuries. Most importantly, it is a concrete action from you that shows the impetus needed, and makes your new entrepreneurial life an emergent reality.
Starting a small business right now doesn’t mean resigning from your job, isolating yourself from family and friends, and devoting all your time and energy utterly to your business idea. It might do, perhaps for a while in a key growth stage or deal-making process, but not necessarily, and not right away.
Evenings or weekends can be a great place to start refining your business idea, testing your skills in the domain, and trying to determine the potential profitability. The risk in this case is low, all you are risking is your time. Time that if you honestly look at it, might be spent watching Netflix, or frittering away reading something that you won’t remember 10 minutes afterwards, so not a big loss then.
When Does the Planning Stop?
Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
The military’s Seven P’s swings both ways when it comes to starting up on your business idea, or indeed becoming a digital nomad.
On the one hand, this preliminary time of pre-action is fantastic space to trial and test your idea, to develop it from embryonic stage to first breath. However, there is also a bear trap here of over-thinking, over-planning, and over-qualifying. It’s easy to get into a quagmire of business planning in too much detail, making assumptions too far-out. The world is in ceaseless flux, so don’t be delineating your 5th year admin costs into line items.
A good rule of thumb to find the perfect medium-rare level of planning for a small business idea is the ‘friends of friends’ test. Could you sit down and present your idea to a group of business-minded friends of your friends over an hour’s coffee. There’s some goodwill there because of the mutual connection, it doesn’t need to be bullet-proof, but they’ll be more critical than your immediate friends or family, where existing relationships might begin to muddle good sense.
‘Perfectionism’ is not an excuse. You will have holes and mistakes in your business plan, but you will only find them by starting down the path.
This echoes Ryan Bandeaux’s principle of Fail Fast, Fail Often. Your small business will likely need a number of pivots to find the winning business model and niche. You can’t fail before you’ve started, and you can’t pivot from no direction at all.
Start the Race
This is where we start to turn outwards, and the reasons for starting on your business idea right now just keep flying in.
If you’ve had an innovative and half-decent business idea, you are already in a race, whether you like it or not. Even if someone has done it before, perhaps applied to a different sector or in a different region, you’re still on the start line and the gun has been fired. Someone out there will be thinking similarly and targeting the same business opportunity - if it’s a real one. This is a million times more true in our world of globally connected capitalism, good ideas spread fast and conquer quickly.
Simultaneous invention is even more applicable to business than it is to science. There’s a host of examples from the car, to the light bulb, to social networks. They are all inventions and innovations that sprung up at the same time in two places independently. This was because existing technology and market demand was pushing people in the same direction within the same ‘now’.
It’s the same with business ideas, you may have already suffered from ‘I’d thought of that’ syndrome. This is where you have a novel idea when talking to mates, then forget about it, and sometime later it’s a huge business for someone else. Don’t let that happen with your current business idea. There’s only one sure-fire way to prevent this syndrome: Start Now.
This is still true, albeit to a lesser degree, if your idea is to set up as a freelancer or digital nomad within an existing field, or anyone really wanting to work from home independently. Other individuals will be starting on this same path too, and these other competitors will be taking up your potential niches and market share, gaining experience and insight ahead of you.
No one would stand still on the start-line of a foot race, why would they do it in business?
The first step will inevitably be the hardest to take, the second will come more easily, and by the third there’s already forward momentum.
A Global Market for Every Small Business
Today’s world presents a bigger and more accessible market than at any point before in global history. The rewards for success have never ever been larger than they are right now. That if anything should provide the necessary motivation to get going.
Digital technology and modern logistic services mean that any small business can viably sell physical products, software, or even ideas to almost anyone and anywhere in the world. This has three central meanings for potential entrepreneurs. Firstly, if you are successful in a mass-market idea the growth potential is astronomical. Secondly, if your idea serves a very small niche of society, you can still successfully access that limited group of consumers. Thirdly, because of the above, there will be other people pursuing your business idea. I say it again, start now and start well.
The World at Your Service
Global capitalism and the reasons above mean that it’s also easier now to start a small business than at any point in time previously. Because of the global market of other entrepreneurs, there are now dozens of software packages and apps that can help you manage a fledgling business.
These services will ease the burden of time and effort spent on the non-core parts of your business. There are many fantastic and often free tools for your small business: accounting softwares, CRM programs, or legal apps. Yahoo has even come up with a streamlined one-stop-shop for starting a small business - the Business Maker. The technology is there to ease your way to success as a small business owner or digital nomad.
There’s also heaps of advisory and mentorship resources: incubators, accelerators, start-up ecosystems and other growth and support networks. As you might imagine, there’s countless information resources on almost any aspect of entrepreneurship: books, e-books, online courses, the lists go on and on. No-one will be stuck without answers on this path.
Funding is still one of the major hurdles to starting a small business, but now there are loads of alternative sources, regardless of your size, sector and level of ambition. There are angel investors, VCs, crowd-funding sites, crowd-loaning sites, government grant schemes, and of course there's always family and friend rounds.
Governments play their part too, and have gone out of their way in recent years to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in regulation and other programs. As they rightfully see them as the heart of job growth and wealth creation for a nation.
In sum there is so much help and support from so many different avenues. The world is equipped for your needs as an entrepreneur, digital nomad, or small business owner.
There are simply no excuses left. This has to be the time to grow. Set refresh as opposed to recycle.