As a brand consultant, I meet with a lot of excited visionaries. I have consulted with people wanting to start restaurants, non-profits, products, apps, books, churches, and so much more. With each person, there is never any scarcity of passion. More often, there is a lack of a sustainable plan. Anything that can be measured can be sustained. The thing is, many gleeful visionaries lack a plan that can provide measurable, sustainable results. Measurables determine progress. When progress can’t be reviewed, it always leads to frustration and eventual burnout. If you are considering starting a new business, project, or launching a new vision, ask yourself these five questions before you start.
Anything that can be measured can be sustained.
Is this a ‘me’ idea, or an ‘us’ idea?
Before I started the Dreamstart Entrepreneurship Conference, I actually searched out other people who were doing what I was considering and offered to help. I wasn’t trying to do my own thing. I truly wanted to serve what was already happening. I simply wanted fill in the gaps with what I felt was missing. After approaching several people, I discovered I was already too late to join them. That is when I finally decided to develop and produce my own event. Far too often I have found many visionaries seek to do their own thing before first understanding who is already doing something similar. Perhaps your idea isn’t strong enough or sustainable enough to do alone. Consider joining with another person, product, or organization and only develop the part you are most experienced in. Your idea may only be a program instead of an entire organization. I remember consulting with someone who wanted to create a non-profit that served orphans in Africa. Eventually, she realized she was only passionate about providing scholarships for the orphans’ education versus providing traditional living support and building schools. She ultimately partnered with a much larger organization and was able to raise several thousand dollars in scholarships for the children. She realized she could do more owning her part versus trying to do every other one.
Can I commit to doing adequate research before I start?
Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean you have a vision. The more you research your idea, the more likely you will create something that will last. The internet has a plethora of information to find anything you can imagine. The only limiter to your vision is you. A simple Google search will bring up thousands of results of content you can filter through to find just the information you need. Additionally, you should seek out experts and mentors who are doing what you would like to do. The right business or life coach could be just the catalyst you need to launch properly. Many of these coaches also offer online classes to help you on your journey. You can even find free classes on sites like Coursera taught by college professors. These could aid you in your research. I personally love listening to Jamie Tardy of Eventual Millionaire. She features millionaires weekly who speak on a wide variety of topics. Her show covers just about any startup subject you can think of in great detail. This information has become vital to me to stay abreast of current industry trends. Lastly, many public libraries have research departments that can do your market research for you. For a small fee, they can find valuable data that may have taken you a lot longer to find.
Can I measure my outcomes?
Before launching a new vision, consider your outcomes and whether or not you can measure them. I once consulted with a lady who desired to start a ministry. She originally wanted me to develop her logo and branding materials. After further questioning, I was able to understand more about what she was trying to accomplish. Even though her passion for seeing “lives transformed” was admirable, it was very difficult for her to quantify exactly what that meant. After further consulting, she realized that perhaps it wasn’t the appropriate time to launch her organization. The more you can measure your vision, the better you can maintain it. When you are outlining your plan for your vision, think about your metrics for progress and your metrics for success. Is it when you have a certain number of customers? Will it be for a certain amount of products sold? People reached? Programs started? Facilities built? These type of metrics help you to understand the growth of your vision. Though impact can be calculated in feedback (i.e. testimonials), growth should be measured with numerical results. In the beginning stages, this data is critical to understanding how to navigate your growth.
Can I commit to doing this for a year?
I understand that everyone can’t quit their jobs and start a new venture full time. I actually wouldn’t even recommend it. I do recommend, however, spending part time hours every week working on a full-time dream. Doing this for at least a year would be ideal. That means every week, for at least 1-2 hours a day (and more if you can) you should spend time doing value generating activities for your vision. Value generating activities are those activities that accelerate you towards a return on your investment quickly. If it is a business you are starting, it should be the activities that directly relate to you gaining income as quickly as possible. If you are writing a book, the activity should be actually writing content, regardless of how good or bad it is. If it is starting a non-profit, it should be developing programs and raising donations. Your commitment to your vision will determine if it becomes a hobby or a lifestyle. Being able to commit to your vision consistently for a year will help you develop the habit of doing it for a lifetime. At your year anniversary, you can then assess if it is something you should continue doing.
Your commitment to your vision will determine if it becomes a hobby or a lifestyle.
Is this worth my reputation?
Whether you want to or not, anything that you live and breath for a year outside of work and family will become identified with you. You will become “the guy who is writing a book” or the “girl who is starting a business about such and such.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it must be something that you are comfortable being known for. I know of a guy locally who has become known for his work with armadillos. I am sure he never intended for his life brand to center around the cute creatures, but now it has and he has used it to become successful. Make sure that whatever endeavor you are beginning, it is something that you want to become a part of you. Whatever you pursue is how you will be portrayed. Be intentional on what you want that to look like.