I know how you’re feeling right now. I know because I’ve been there.
You want to create your own business.
You aren’t an entrepreneur yet, but you want to be.
You want the freedom and the adventure of creating something new, something of your own, something that can improve your life — both your life’s style and meaning.
You’re what I call an “about-to-be-preneur” — because it’s just a matter of time before you make the jump, isn’t it?
I know how you feel because:
I was there two years ago when I started my web design company.
I was there one year ago when I started this blog, The Perpetual Vacation.
And I’m there again, today, as I’m starting to put together my next project, Devise.
I’m feeling , right there with you.
Because I’ve been through it twice, there are a few things I think maybe you should know about… Or rather, there are a few things that I’d like to remember as I build my third project. Maybe this post is more for me than it is for you.
Either way, I’m going to go through each of the seven phases I’ve identified of wanting to create your own business.
Truth be told, I haven’t met a single entrepreneur or adventurer that hasn’t been through each of these seven stages. I’m confident enough in that to say that anyone who thinks they’ve successfully skipped any of these stages is an absolute liar.
What are the highs? What are the lows? What are the in-betweens?
Today, that’s exactly what I want to go over. I hope you find it helpful.
Here we go! Secure your seatbelts, homeslices…
Stage 1: “I’m unhappy.”
This is usually everyone’s least favorite phase of all, but it’s my favorite — all because it holds so much opportunity. This is the phase that starts it all.
I see all kinds of people go through this phase: parents who want to get back into the workforce, employees who hate reporting to their boss everyday, free spirits that want to gain control of their life again, and more.
No matter what kind of person goes through it, this phase entails lots of negative stuff: frustration, stress, a limited view of the what the future holds, etc.
In my view, though, no matter the negative stuff involved, this is the phase that opens the door to everything.
You become aware of your state (unhappy, unfulfilled, unengaged), and you start to wonder if you could change it…
Stage 2: “What can I do?”
If the first phase is characterized by awareness, the second phase is characterized by confusion.
This is where the famous questions start popping up:
What is my mission in life?
What am I good at?
These are the questions that I get the most from readers and the community here at TPV. This phase is one huge question mark.
If you’re not careful, the question mark of possibility can strangle your momentum to move forward.
Every single time I work on a new project or business, I do my best to not get bogged down in the infinite possibilities of those questions. Instead, I make a map of:
- What I’m good at
- What people would pay me for
- What I enjoy most
At first sight, it’s tough to see how those things will interact, but the patterns and overlaps start to emerge after some brainstorming.
Note: This phase takes work. You need to be willing to sit down, create your own map or brainstorm, and think through what you want to offer. Put in the work to figure this piece out so the rest can work. Consider yourself warned!
Stage 3: “I’m scared.”
Ah, fear… the one companion that never seems to leave our side, right?
This is probably the one topic I receive the most emails about. I actually answered an email about this before having breakfast this morning.
Fear has a bad reputation. People hate it, but everyone faces it.
Oprah faces fear. Elon Musk faces fear. I face fear. Everyone faces fear.
You will face fear. There’s no doubt about it.
What matters is what you do with it when it walks up and smacks you on the side of the head (because it will.)
To create your own business, don’t ignore your fear — listen to it, study it for any truth, and move forward.
I was scared when I hit my first blog post. I was scared when I quit my job. I was scared when I hired my first employee (and again when I fired him). I was scared when I started investing in the creation of Devise. I’m still scared right now! Doesn’t mean I won’t keep moving forward…
If you need some practical help dealing with certain fears, check out this post for an exercise that may help you break through your mental blocks.
Stage 4: “Aww, screw it!”
This phase is about the sweet, sweet taste of freedom.
Because you’ve finally ripped the shackles off your wrists.
You told your boss you’re leaving. You accepted your first contract. You bought your domain name and invited your friends to your new Facebook Page.
You’re scared shitless, but you’re ready for the adventure … you think?
You’ve made a decision, dived headfirst into the deep end, and now you prepare yourself for what’s come…
Free-falling into the first few steps of creating your own business feels so bittersweet. I remember when I started my blog, I had no idea what would come of it. I certainly no idea I’d know be connecting with hundreds of thousands of readers a year! Now that I’ve started working on Devise, it feels very much like free-falling… My hope is that it will also have a big impact like TPV has.
You’ve strapped yourself into the rollercoaster… Here you go!
Stage 5: “This is so much fun!”
If I could name this phase, I’d name it Ecstasy.
There’s no feeling like starting to work on a project that is your own, a project that you’re bringing to life one building block at a time. It’s your baby, and every step feels thrilling.
You set up a bank account. You started talking to more clients. You interviewed some people who might be a good fit for your project. You met up with fellow business-owners (because you’re a business-owner now, too, woah!)
You’re kicking ass and taking names… There’s no holding you back, is there?
I remember I felt this kind of ecstatic thrill when I launched TPV, and I marveled at the design. I was so in love with my project. The same happened to me with Devise — once the design started coming together, I marveled at its beauty and got super excited for it to come to life.
The high of execution is so addictive…
Stage 6: “Hold up. This sucks.”
As I’ve written about before, every high comes with a low — and, when you create your own business, the lows are torturous. Here are a few examples from my own experiences:
- I fired a client a few months ago. That entire process, from disputes to moving on, scarred me a bit.
- I tried learning to code my own Devise app. I learned a ton and now have a better notion of what goes into my app, but I went through more frustrating moments that I care to repeat. (So, I outsourced!)
- Just three weeks ago, I mistakenly erased a year’s worth of Google Analytics data. Whoops?
The examples go on and on…
When you create your own business, there will be moments of difficulty. All those stories you hear about not being able to fall asleep or waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat is absolutely true — but it happens less as more time goes on and you wrack up more experience in running your project.
You’ll learn the in’s and out’s of how to handle your project (your baby) and be set to face the hurdles up ahead.
For example, it took me a year to figure out the following:
- I spent a few months paying an accountant, but then I decided to split the burden with him and do more of my own accounting. Now, I truly understand my business’s financial standing — and I love it.
- After struggling with cashflow for months, I started picking better projects and changed my payment plan. Clients are happier, and so is my company’s bank account.
- No matter how much love I had for my team, there have been times when I’ve had to move on from those relationships.
Stage 7: “I wouldn’t go back if you paid me.”
A few moths ago, I sat in a corporate office with two of the biggest guys in business I know. They offered me a job. My reply?
“I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m unemployable.”
And I don’t mean that I’m hot stuff — not at all. What I mean is that there’s no way anyone could ever convince me to go back and do something that isn’t my OWN.
I’ll take the up’s and down’s of creating my own business gladly. The good times more than make up for the bad times.
What phase are you in?
You might be reading this blog because you’re looking to start this process, or you might be reading this blog because you’re already in the midst of it.
Either way, my hope is that reading these seven stages of wanting to create your own business will bring you some laughs and understanding of what entrepreneurship is really like.
The good and the bad.
You know your story best. You, too, are the best one to modify and mold it as you go. That’s the whole point.
I’m curious and would love to hear from you:
What stage do you find yourself in right now?
Is there a specific stage you’d like to skip entirely? If so, how?
What concerns you about these seven stages? Are they necessary?
I look forward to hearing from you in the comments!
Wishing you awesomeness!
PS. Once a week, I write about something I learned in my newsletter called “The Weekly Mistake.” Sign up if you’d like to receive it (and skip the mistakes I’ve made) ➜
Photo credit: vaderbreath