A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Week 2: “How Do I Start A Business When I Don’t Have Any Time?”

No time to start a business It’s week 2 of my adventure in 2015 to start a business. I started out last week not knowing what kind of business I wanted to start. This week, I’m taking an introspective look at another common issue people have when they want to start a business–and one that plagues me as well! It’s all about the feeling of not having enough time to start a business.

Technically, I work part-time right now; I’m wrapping up a 3-month consulting gig with Help.com, building their launch plan, website copy, an ebook, and more. (My work will be live on Help.com soon!)

But, when you factor in my coworking space, this blog, finishing taxes and other miscellany of my business that failed/got acquired last year, and helping my boyfriend (who is also an entrepreneur) with his business, the hours I spend working pretty quickly ramp up to full-time.

So I’ve been exploring: How do you build a business when there are so many other things that compete for your time?

Most “Productivity Systems” Don’t Work. Here’s What Does.

And, after months of considering this and testing various “productivity systems”, I’ve come to a pretty simple conclusion. You do one thing every day that moves your business forward–and you don’t let anything stand in the way of getting that one thing done.

This doesn’t mean you don’t take any days off. Feel free to take a day off here or there. In fact, it looks an awful lot like the thing you do to get in shape, or to accomplish any other goal you have set for yourself. Want to get healthier? Walk 10 minutes a day. That’s it. (I often do this if I have to be on a conference call–I think best when I’m pacing, anyway, so it’s a good way to get my exercise.)

The same goes for your business. Want to start a business? Do one thing every day toward making that a reality. Have no idea what you want to start? Your one thing today may be going out to lunch with a local business owner and asking him or her what problems he or she faces–in business or in personal life!

Getting Coaching and Help: Surprisingly Valuable?

Or it could be taking a free, intro “deep coaching” call with a business coach. In this vein, I recently decided to do something that I felt was a bit risky: I asked my friend Rich Litvin to connect me with some of the best coaches he knows so I could do an introductory coaching call with all of them. It felt risky because I know how much coaches charge, and I’m unsure whether I want to commit to spending a lot of money on a coach. But then I thought, how could I ask people to spend money on me as a coach, as I did last year, if I don’t feel comfortable spending a similar amount?

So, between Rich’s intros and reaching out to friends of mine who are professional coaches, I put six in-depth intro calls on my calendar in just two weeks. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have a call with a new coach.

The second coach I met with, John P. Morgan, when I told him about this, had one thing to say: “Wow! This is going to be a life-changing two weeks for you!” And now, about halfway through it, I’d have to agree.

I love that Rich introduced me to people who span the gamut of coaching, from people who’ve run successful businesses to executive coaches to artists like Allison Crow Flanigin, who is a painter and encouraged me to get in touch with my creative side and to bring more “me” into the world. I sort of feel silly saying this after I’ve already hung my shingle out as a coach and had paying clients, but I really get the value of coaching as a business leader now.

I’m glad I overcame my fear around this. At some point, I’ll hire a coach. Why? Because I’ll find the person or people who can propel me forward such that the coaching fee looks like peanuts compared to the value they provide. And if that sentence makes no sense to you, I strongly encourage you to do the same thing I did and schedule intro “deep sessions” with coaches until you find one or more of them who really opens you up and gets you going–and you realize that your creative efforts will be multiplied by hiring them. Honestly, all of the coaches I’ve worked with so far fit in that category. And if the money is a stretch, bring that into your coaching call. Work on creating enough value in the world that the money won’t be a stretch.

I probably sound like I’m writing a sales pitch for my own coaching here, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I coached full-time for a few months in 2014, and although I’d be happy to take a really special, rock star client here or there, it’s not my path to coach full-time. It’s my path to use what I learn from being a coach and apply that to a larger, wider audience: you!

Are You Really “Too Busy”?

One point of clarity that has come up for me through these coaching calls is that I’d like to create a product in 2015. What I want to create isn’t totally clear yet, but I want to work on something around teaching ADHD, super creative people how to get stuff done and launch something out in the world. Obviously that’s something I’m still working on doing myself this year!

Side note: It will be a great sales pitch–I chuckle every time I think about this. “Well, Erica,” some smartass will invariably say, “How do I know your course on Getting Sh*t Done for Highly Creative People will actually work for me?” And I will get the trump card of replying, “Because it exists! Yes, because I used the principles in the course to make the course itself!” Yes, the ultimate smartass comeback. This is what I think about at 1AM when I’m awake in my bed and my brain won’t shut off…comebacks to objections that don’t yet exist about a product that doesn’t yet exist. ๐Ÿ™‚

This year is so exciting for me because it’s all about wiping the slate clean of all those objections. You know, the ones that pop up in your head. “I don’t know what I want to do yet.” Be like me and start blogging about it before you do know what you want to do. Is that scary? Heck yes, it’s scary!

“I’m too busy to start a successful business.” Good! Do one thing every day toward that. And I encourage you to get out of the building with that one thing. Meet with people. Talk with mentors. Have a coffee with a CEO or a small business owner or an investor. Email a question to someone you don’t think will answer. And don’t be attached to anything. You don’t have to “start a startup.” You don’t have to “build a business.” You just have to be you. That’s fun–and that’s what I’m having fun exploring this year, too.

See you next week!

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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