I started my first business when I was 4 years old. We lived in a little pink brick house at the end of a long gravel driveway in Atoy, Texas. I started out collecting rocks to sell; not just any rocks but the pretty ones—rocks that looked like they had glitter on them and smooth brown cubes that looked like caramels. My favorites were the tiny pink rocks with little wrinkles and clefts in them that became magically transparent when I rubbed spit on them. Yes, I said spit…in this blog, you don’t pretend that you didn’t spit on stuff when you were a kid.
Unfortunately, no one really wanted to drive up the long drive to buy my treasures. Standing at the end of the driveway trying to wave down buyers was too distracting for the drivers on the little country road, or so my parents insisted. I was so mad when they told me to stop that, I threw these treasures out of the pretty box I stored them in and all over the driveway. I picked them up a couple of days later when I had cooled off a bit, but I lost a few of my favorites. Wow, does that sound like you? Plan A doesn’t work, you pitch the whole thing and have to start all over again.
I started coaching clients one-on-one after many years as a Career Consultant for Lockheed Martin. As a career consultant at Lockheed Martin, I advised thousands of people and employers on successful careers and staffing. I will never forget that day 10 years ago when my neighbor’s sister showed up on my doorstep. My neighbor said, “That thing you do with careers and people? My sister needs that.” At the time, my neighbor’s sister, let’s call her Lori, was about to reach a major birthday and Lori didn’t know what she wanted to do for a living. She only knew that her current job was not it. Lori was stuck and as I have found over the years, she was my favorite type of client, the stuck kind.
At one point in the process of creating a new career, Lori showed up for her appointment at my home office after having not followed through with a meeting with a networking contact, for the third freakin’ time.
Now, I knew the person she needed to meet very well, and by now I knew Lori, very well. The purpose of the meeting was to gather information, not ask for a job, but just see how the environment and the work was and if Lori fit. “Guess what?” I told her, “No more putting it off. You are going today.” She freaked out just a little bit, even though she was completely ready for this step. “What if he isn’t there? I’m not dressed to meet anyone today,” Lori said. I responded, “You will call, you can borrow something from my closet. I’ll drive.”
Then, I marched her to my closet, gave her a gentle shove in, and closed the door behind her. Off to the car and the appointment, and she went through with it. Now, I don’t usually highjack clients in my car and take them places, but it worked and she was unstoppable after she got that first meeting under her belt.
When I first started coaching groups, my biggest fear was that no one would show up. A dear friend said to me, “Make gumbo.” Gumbo is something that I am seriously good at making it. I even talked about it here in a previous blog post. Whenever I make gumbo, as many as 50 people show up to share it. I was nervous to charge for such an informal endeavor, so I put my cow cookie jar, Moo Lah, on the counter and made it “pay-what-you-wish”. The business coach I had at the time threw a fit.“That is no way to build a business, what were you thinking?” she said. But, it was my way. It wasn’t a flawless launch, but it was perfect for me.
I’m sharing these stories with you today to show you that there is no such thing as one right way to get started. Typically, what stops us from starting any new endeavor is this idea that it has to be big. We put too much pressure on ourselves and doubt our abilities even when all the pieces are right there.
When you are starting something new, don’t be afraid to:
1. Trust your gut and go with what brings you joy, like those shiny stones that made me smile. I still collect stones and sea shells.
2. Start with what you have- a great recipe, someone at your door…
3. Take some risks. Although I can’t recommend standing in a blind curve waving your arms.
4. Put everything into what you do, kind of like gumbo—sometimes it takes a bit of everything and time to make things work.
5. Don’t worry about being perfect and pleasing everyone. After all, being everything to all people is not possible. Be ignored, mocked or even fumed at by some who just don’t get it. You are the only one who needs to understand the vision.