How can I write articles to help people start a business? That has been the topic in my mind for the last 3 months, as I wracked my brain on how to introduce this blog.
I’ve written a number of complete posts and a lot of half-written posts. There are also a number of posts that are nothing more than the topic and one or two sentences.
Today, I gave myself a do or die deadline to finally get this thing off my to-do list and complete it. And what better way to flag off this blog than share my story?
So here’s how I started my dream business and why I teach people to do the same.
(Warning: it’s a pretty long post…)
The unhappy employee
In 2006, I was on a career path that would lead to achieving a PhD. I had an OK salary and was getting exposure and credibility, both locally and internationally.
In May, I travelled to South Africa for 6-months of study. During this time, I got to evaluate my life, career and also ask myself some very hard questions.
The end result was that I realized that I didn’t want to spend 5-6 more years learning and travelling to build this career.
While everyone told me I needed to get a PhD, I didn’t feel it deep inside. I didn’t want to be at other people’s beck and call. Also, I didn’t want to miss out on my children’s most important years (they were 2½ and 5 years old).
Clearly, I had outgrown being an employee. At the same time, I thought I was ready to start a business and become self-employed.
By the time I came back home, I had already written my resignation letter in my mind. It took two more months before I got the guts to hand in the letter.
Once I handed in my resignation, I had 6 months to complete any pending work and get out of there.
Here comes the successful business woman (or so I thought)!
When I quit my job, I was exhilarated. My business was going to be a massive success. It would also provide me with an opportunity to show people how bright I truly was.
Looking back, I now laugh at myself because I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jumping straight into business caused a lot of pain and loss.
On the bright side, it led to the unfolding of my purpose in life and the creation of my dream business.
My first business, started in November 2007, fell flat. When it crashed in April 2009, I lost all my savings (including my pension) and money that I had borrowed from my parents, sisters and husband.
The loss of this business almost brought me down emotionally and I took a year off to lick my wounds. During the recovery process, I took time to evaluate where I had gone wrong.
Everyone around me recommended that I seek employment again. However, the fire of entrepreneurship was still burning inside, and I knew that I wasn’t going to thrive as an employee.
This process also made me realize that while my business had failed, I had helped my customers and friends grow their businesses. Later, I got to know that I had unknowingly coached these people into success.
Getting back on board
In October 2009, I read an article by Brian Tracy where he outlined a simple process of finding your true calling.
I completed the exercise and identified my true talents, the ones that I could turn into an income. These included training, writing, researching and teaching.
When I completed the exercise, I asked myself, “How can I turn these talents and any skills I have into income? How can these become a business?”
Luckily, I had a background in research. I also had time because I was a stay-at-home mum and my children were in school all day.
The next step was to go online and research different training organizations in Kenya that matched my skills. I then visited some of these organizations to get a feel of the business.
One of the organizations gave me an impromptu free coaching session that helped me get clear about my career. At that point, I told myself, “If this is how powerful coaching is, then I want to be a coach”.
The organization later hired me as an Associate Trainer. They trained me, and gave me lots of experience in personal development training.
Time to start a business…in a new way
With more research, I found out that coaching could combine my skills of training, writing, research and teaching into one business.
In 2011 I requested three Kenyan coaches to mentor me into starting my own coaching business. Two of them agreed and one told me that I had to take her coaching program first.
I didn’t want to wait for three more months so I took up the offer by one of the other two. She not only mentored me, but also helped me create my first business coaching program Create Your Dream Business.
At the same time, I signed up for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner training, got my certification, and launched my new business New Dawn Solutions.
This time, I was very clear about what I wanted and how I was going to achieve it through my business.
Going beyond business startup
Since February 2011, I’ve been helping people start and grow their dream businesses while at the same time creating space in their lives to do what they love most.
Initially, I worked with anyone that came to me for coaching. With time, I became more specific and today, I only work with professional women who want to start a business.
This year, I went a step further and created my first book 12 Weeks to Startup: How to Turn Your Skills, Talents, Education and Experiences into a Business.
As I write this article, I’m amazed at how things have fallen in place. It’s not been an easy journey and I’ve fallen more times than I can count. But the strong focus on achieving my dream keeps me moving forward.
My greatest joy is when a client realizes they can actually get paid for something they thought was just a hobby or general interest.
I get paid to have fun doing what I love, work from home, set my working hours and have time for my children. I get paid to work with people who want to bless the world with their skills. I get paid by my dream business.
This article would not be complete without a summary of some critical steps I took to start and grow my business. Here are the steps.
1. Make a decision to start a business
It’s no longer about ‘trying’ to start, it’s about doing it or not. You can’t afford to sit on the fence anymore.
Also, make a commitment to hang in there until the business succeeds. Life will happen and you will get some knocks. Your commitment will help you get through the hard times.
2. Conduct an evaluation of your passions
Evaluate the skills, talents, knowledge and experiences you’re passionate about. Specifically, look for things people ask you for advice about and those that you do effortlessly. The fact that people ask for your advice means that there is potential to develop that into a business.
3. Turn these passions into a business
Start by researching ways in which these ‘passions’ can be turned into a business. Find other people who are doing it and either model them or ask them for help (to teach, coach or mentor you).
Entrepreneurs are very good at sharing information. There are also millions of blogs on the internet and books that can help you move forward if you cannot get physical helpers.
This blog is also a place to get free information and education so bookmark it and sign up for updates.
4. Identify your gaps
Identify your skills, knowledge and experience gaps. Create a plan to overcome them.
With time you’ll be able to hire people who are strong where you are weak. For now, you may have to be everything in the business. Luckily, the internet is full of ‘how to’ tips and resources so make Uncle Google your friend.
5. Start your business ASAP
Don’t spend a lot of time researching, planning, and getting things right. As Nike clearly says, “Just do it!”
The best teacher about your business is the business itself. Most people fear failure so much that they end up not starting at all.
6. Find like-minded people
Start hanging around people who have started and are running their businesses. You can also join those who are starting and are committed to making their businesses successful. Business networking events are a good place to start.
7. Enjoy the process
No matter how lucrative an idea seems, don’t get into a business you aren’t passionate about. This is your life and your business.
You’re also getting to decide (maybe for the first time in your life) how it’s going to be. You can only enjoy the process if it’s your passion and not other people’s idea of what you should do.
That’s my story and some (hopefully sage) advice to help you start a business. As you work on your business, always remember that building a successful business requires effort, persistence and commitment.
Hobbies and interests don’t make good money, businesses with systems do. If you don’t take your business seriously then it will be a waste of time no matter how many people you’ve helped.
Get clear about your motive for starting the business and you are already on the process of being a successful business owner.
Interestingly, the more money you make from your business, the more people you will be able to help. Also, the more people you help, the more money you will make from your business!
I’d love to hear from you so please share your experience or ideas in the Comments section below.
(Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos)