Just five more minutes.
You’re trying to stay in a happier place as you hit the snooze button for the second time…
It’s pouring outside and the room is awfully damn dark, the sun blocked by heavy gray clouds. It feels like the bed is hugging you and you really don’t want to get out of your warm blanket cave.
But you have to. The bills won’t pay for themselves and you have to clock in at 9.
In fact, you have to get up NOW because it’s raining, and there’s a good chance you’ll get stuck in traffic. Yup, you are going to be late!
You manage to get out in record time, only to remember you forgot your lunch on the counter.
Now you’re finally in your car, but sure enough, the traffic is sluggish. This gives you time to daydream about what it would be like to be your own boss one day.
Just imagine: no one could force you out of bed. You wouldn’t waste your time in traffic. And you’d be free to work whenever you want, from wherever you want.
But you are not Elon Musk, and starting a business is hard.
The good news is that you don’t have to be an eccentric genius or know how to fly rockets to Mars. Starting a business of your own has never been easier — trust us on this one.
Think about it. These days, you can find everything online. You can read guides, learn new skills, connect with people, and ultimately — make money on your own terms! You just need to know where to look for the information and networks you need, and right here is a great place to start.
We are not going to claim that it doesn’t take a lot of motivation and hard work to find your purpose and achieve your dreams.
But we learned things the hard way when we were starting out, and that means you don’t have to. We’ve come up with a foolproof, seven-step work (and thought) process that will put you in the right state of mind and gear you up to take those essential first steps, make the leap, and spread your wings.
Just follow these seven steps to reach the freedom you deserve.
1. Reflect on Your Motives to Find Your Purpose
What’s missing in your life?
Is it more money? More time for yourself? To work on the things you actually care for, and not just to collect a paycheck?
Maybe you want to change the world for better? Or to become famous?
To put your talents to work and not let them fade out?
People decide to take the plunge and start chasing their dreams for many reasons. All of these motives boil down to one core desire: to live a life on your own terms, according to your own values.
In Japanese culture, this concept is known as ikigai. It roughly translates your “reason for being,” the thing you live for, the thing that brings you a sense of purpose, happiness, and harmony.
The desire to find your purpose and start your own business often boils down to wanting a balanced, meaningful existence, with time spent on doing things that enrich your life and career, while getting adequate rest and having energy to spare for your family, social life, and hobbies.
Think of the reasons why you want to start a business. This will inspire and motivate you to take that first step and endure the pressure when all of it seems like a mistake. Write these reasons down as your personal statement and always keep it somewhere near, where you’ll see it often.
You will come back to this statement over and over again, and it will fuel your way to success and independence.
2. What Would You Do If Money Wasn’t a Consideration?
Now that you know how to find your purpose, think of the things you would do if you won the lottery. Visualize how would you spend your spare time, remember the hobbies you had and abandoned because you have to make a living, and think of all the articles you bookmarked and books you’ve set aside to read later but actually never opened.
What are the things you think and read about or do in those precious and rare moments when you’re out of the office?
If you answer these questions honestly, a neon arrow sign will appear to show you where to search for the right type of business model for you, the one that will have you looking forward to Monday morning, not dreading it!
While we cannot lie to ourselves and pretend that money isn’t important, it is not the end-all, be-all of your life. And you spend approximately a third of your life at work, so why not make sure you don’t hate it?
Finding your purpose and following your passion is not merely a Pinterest cliché to save and forget; even when times get tough, your passions will inspire you to keep pushing! Maybe you won’t be able to get the newest iPhone as soon as it rolls out, or buy the most expensive bag in the store.
But being truly rich means owning your time (the only resource you can’t get back!) and being able to decide what to do with it. Even if you end up working longer hours, in the end, you will be more satisfied because you’re working on your own terms, by your own decisions.
3. Get to Know Yourself
It’s funny how we spend our whole lives with this one person we know so very little about.
Who may that person be? Ourselves.
The art of introspection goes way back, all the way to ancient Greece, Socrates and Pythagoras, and beyond. By knowing yourself, you can begin to know what to expect in different situations, good or bad, how to cope, and how to get the most from what you have — and who you are.
It is often said that entrepreneurs possess a certain set of qualities that make them different from other people and bring them tons of money and fame.
Persistence, persuasiveness, the ability to think outside the box, exceptional leadership skills, creativity, self-confidence… The way we describe entrepreneurs almost paints the picture of a mythological creature, devoid of the kinds of flaws a regular person has to try to overcome.
But let’s leave myths with the Greeks — such people do not exist!
Even the most affluent, accomplished people have something going against them. The thing is, they know themselves very well and have learned to overcome their flaws — or even use them to their own advantage.
First, think about your strengths, and try to identify those personality traits that make you unique and give you an advantage over competitors. These might include your fearlessness, your creativity, or your ability to find alternative solutions when everything else seems to be tried out.
If you focus on your personal strengths, you’ll be able to create something remarkable with much less effort than the Average Joe, simply because that’s what you’re good at!
After that, you need to be honest with yourself, and to think about your weaknesses. These are the traits that could hinder your progress, such as being overly sensitive, impulsive, prone to overreacting, or impatient.
Our advice is to embrace your weaknesses by acknowledging them, then try to cover those gaps by finding people who are better at these particular things than you and asking them to join your team.
The most important takeaway from this exercise is a list of the things at which you excel. Then figure out how to connect these abilities with your profession.
You can apply your skills to an entirely new line of work; this fresh and unique point of view may turn out to be the very thing that makes you the No. 1!
Maybe your peculiar sense of style and your ability to always choose the right word for something translates to a fruitful career in a fashion magazine?
Or, let’s say you love to draw, you’ve always been good at figuring out patterns and structuring things, and people tell you to have a knack for aesthetics. Those abilities would make you an excellent web designer!
4. Observe Your Surroundings and Existing Businesses
After introspection comes the time to examine the outside world and identify what makes people frustrated in their everyday lives.
Here we’re not asking you to go out, especially if it is raining outside and the bed seems comfier than ever! Instead, focus on the things around you that you could change for the better.
That lunch joint next to your office wouldn’t put more meat in the burrito even to save their lives? Well, you decide to bring your own lunch, but the lunchbox keeps leaking all over your new Kanken backpack?
Think outside the (leaky) box and imagine starting your own line of beautiful, sturdy lunchboxes that seal perfectly — or open up a burrito stand where customers come away delighted with a quick, generous meal, not crappy scraps!
You have three great motives to fuel your business venture:
- Love (for a neatly-packed burrito or a functional lunchbox)
- Frustration (you cannot find these things anywhere near your workplace)
- Understanding (of a problem that you are not alone in experiencing)
This represents the core of your analysis, if we use the KISS principle (Keep It Stupid Simple) many successful entrepreneurs have utilized to launch staggeringly successful companies.
We used a simplified, real-life example many people can relate to, but these principles apply to any profession. Heading back to web design: maybe you are sick of the hilariously ugly design requests you keep getting at your company. Or you pass the hours till the end of your shift by scribbling doodles on your notepad.
Whatever drives you, don’t fear the other players in the same arena. Analyze them and use their experience as a handbook or a case study — and learn how to fit into your context better than they do.
After you gain an understanding of the way the other players or businesses work, brainstorm all the ideas that could put you at the very top. Lower prices, faster execution, advanced techniques, better solutions — if you look closely, there’s no limit to the ways you can do better.
After all, you have the advantage of knowing what they know without having to do all the guessing and failing they’ve already done.
5. Refine Your Awesome Idea
Your idea to create a line of design-conscious, functionally flawless lunchboxes seems to strike a chord.
You gave it further thought and got positive feedback from a lot of coworkers (especially the ones that tried bringing tuna salad to work).
The initial market research confirmed your thoughts: most lunchboxes are either too heavy, too expensive, too difficult to wash, too bulky or just so ugly they put the sad in the Sad Desk Lunch.
Knowing all this makes the next part of the process flow quite naturally. It’s time to refine your idea and create a detailed prototype of your product.
Ask yourself how the potential customers would benefit from it. Will you offer something completely new and unique or solve an existing problem? Does it make life easier or bring joy, or both? Is it a novelty or a necessity?
This is the thought process you need to follow, and keep in mind that your business idea should be the missing link between the market problem and your personal skills and abilities.
Still, no matter how well you craft your concept, you will probably need to take it down a notch and start smaller. As an entry-level entrepreneur, the most important thing is to actually start working on your project, no matter how insignificant your baby-steps may look. They add up soon enough. Start with a single soup container and do it well — and before you know it, you’ll be producing a whole line of clever containers that sell like crazy!
Don’t get lost in the details, though. Successful businesses last long because people constantly improve them. You should strive for good timing and execution first, and the fine-tuning will come later.
Related article: 20 Best Small Business Ideas to Start in 2020
6. Find Funding for Your Next Big Thing
Now you have established how great and unique your business idea is, but here comes the part where many people get discouraged: how to fund your cool project?
You had no clue that creating a fairly simple lunchbox involves so many steps, each of them taking up a hefty part of your budget. Giving up when you realize that you need a substantial amount of money to lift your idea from the ground will take you back to square one, eating your Sad Desk Lunch at the job that sucks.
The funding fence can separate you from your dream forever if you don’t find a way over it!
We know that every business requires an investment — no matter how big or small that investment. But the good news is that a huge part of that initial investment can be paid in sweat equity rather than cash. By the time you decide to invest more money, you’ll likely already know if it’s going to be worth it or not.
On the other hand, if calculations show that your budget cannot cover the cost of initial investment, you have several options:
- Partner up with someone who shares your vision and is willing to work with you
- Ask for a loan from someone you trust or a bank
- Look for an investor who is willing to inject cash in exchange for equity
- Request a grant or see if you are eligible for a government subsidy
- Start a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds
Make sure you check each of these options and don’t abandon your plan just because your finances don’t measure up to your dreams!
Create a demo, prototype, or sample that showcases your offer in the best way possible and get your idea out there! If it is good enough, someone will recognize its potential.
Scaling down the idea is usually a wise move for beginners. Starting small is easier, and you can always expand your business if everything goes well.
If you use your financial (and other) resources wisely, it may turn out that you have just enough to start making your dreams a reality. Just remember that when it comes to borrowing money, don’t bite off more than you can chew!
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Quitting your job to find your purpose and pursue your passion is scary.
It’s easy enough to give notice, subscribe to Gary V., and start adding #hustle #grind #working to every social media post. But soon enough, you reach an obstacle, you don’t know what to do, or you realize your assumptions were wrong. That’s when it’s tempting to go crawling back to your boss, at that cozy, predictable job you hated…
The truth is, many established entrepreneurs would be happy to give a helping hand to a newcomer, but when we’re starting out we often feel embarrassed to ask or don’t know where to find someone.
Guess what: you don’t have to be alone on this journey, even if you don’t know any friendly entrepreneurs who’d like to mentor you.
We at IdeaBuddy spend a lot of time helping people who are trying to find their purpose and make their dreams come true.
So if you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve, if you wish you had some solid support as you’re starting out and up and you’re wondering who to talk to — we have been where you are. We know what it’s like to feel alone, and now we want to share our knowledge with you as you take those important first steps.
You can try IdeaBuddy for free, and our guide will take you smoothly through the whole idea development process.
And once you’ve taken that leap and gone operational, IdeaBuddy will still be at your side as a valuable tool to help you fill in the gaps and tweak the details — as you watch your dreams put down roots, send up shoots, and grow!
Suggested read: Master These 9 Skills to Become a Successful Entrepreneur