At my first appointment with a personal trainer, she didn’t show me the gym equipment or give me a tour of the facilities. Instead, she had me fill out a pretty lengthy evaluation form that included questions like, “What are going to be your biggest obstacles for success?” and “What is your plan for overcoming your obstacles?” As eager as I was to just get on with it already, what my trainer understood (that I didn’t) was the truth behind the old adage: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Creating a Plan
I should have taken that same lesson to heart when starting my small business. Instead, I was just eager to spread my wings, and I forgot to settle in and map out the road in front of me. I didn’t take into account two of the biggest obstacles to my small business success: lack of time and lack of confidence. And I didn’t create any kind of game plan for overcoming them. What resulted was a rather painful false start.
I’m a busy mom of five children, one of whom — my 3-year-old son — is still home with me during the day. I’ve worked outside the home before, and while that is difficult, a definite advantage is being able to more clearly draw a line between work and family.
Working from home with my new small business presented greater challenges than I even considered. When do I do the housework? When do I play with my son? When do I write that new proposal? When do I arrange to meet with potential clients? With work/life lines so blurred in relation to time, I soon became overwhelmed. I felt unsuccessful at not one thing, but everything, and I soon wanted to give up.
I also wanted to give up when my fears and insecurities became almost too much to bear. What was once a genuine confidence in my knowledge became a shrewd inventory of all the things I didn’t know. And even all the ways someone else would probably do my same job bigger and better.
And I Failed…
Because I didn’t plan, I did indeed fail. I shut everything down, pulled out of all the professional groups I had joined in such a hurry. I even deleted my website. I was embarrassed, unsure, and totally without a vision for my company.
…But Then I Started Over
Instead of taking the world by storm, I took a step back. I worked in small, simple ways to rediscover the magic that social media (my chosen field) holds for me. In doing so, I surprised myself by growing in confidence, and finding a quieter, more solid passion for teaching and helping others. I slowly started reconsidering my business idea. But this time, I had to make a plan.
In terms of time, I’ve had to be more consistent with setting up “office hours” at home. I delegate more household tasks to my husband and children. I am even open to relying on professional help, like housekeeping and child care.
And as for my insecurities? Well, those thought goblins are always going to jump on my mind’s stage. But the important thing is to hold firm to what I know, even writing myself little affirmations and placing them around my workspace.
I think there are always going to be bumps along the way as my small business grows, and it shouldn’t have surprised me that some happened right at the beginning. But if learning from my mistakes makes me a little bit wiser in the long-run, that’s the best plan for success I could possibly make.
Image credit: mai05