Not in a million years did I see myself starting a business. It just wasn't an idea my impulsive, neurodivergent, dreamy brain ever entertained. But then it became the only way I could conceive of continuing to do what I do with any joy, curiosity or satisfaction.
So I took the leap. As a result I've had to rewire my thinking big time – from this is definitely not my world to maybe I kinda belong? It’s a work in progress and I wouldn't be where I am now with out a tonne of guidance.
1. Listen to people who've done it
I never thought I’d see the day when a cup of tea and a business podcast would count as a good time. But here we are. I burn through these audio jewels like nobody’s business – or like listening to everybody else’s business will most definitely help ours.
Injecting other people’s stories into my ear holes is a great way to glean insights applicable to our working life.
It makes ‘business’ more human and its challenges more manageable. Particularly hearing people talk through their many missteps - it normalises the everyday curveballs you never see coming.
2. Talk to people who are doing it
One day early in the life of The Open Arms, after Amy and I had asked each other the 700th question neither of us could answer, it occurred to us we should talk to people who have done this before. So we started Zoom and cafe meetings and we haven’t stopped.
Some might call this networking but these catch ups aren’t about boss babe-ing our way into a business advantage.
They are about sharing knowledge, laughing over war stories, celebrating wins, learning from each other and occasionally crying in commiseration when it all gets a bit much.
They are about building a community. This is such a fundamental part of growing a successful business. And there are lots of ways to find new peeps to chat to. You simply can not do it in a bubble. You need feedback, encouragement, collaborators, cheerleaders and connectors. You need buddies.
3. Partner with people who can guide you
You could spend a lot of time and money going to business school. Or you could launch your own thing and get the messiest MBA going. Starting a business is certainly the fastest way to learn how to run one — and without the right guidance it can also be the fastest way to learn how to run one badly.
If attending WTF business school sounds like your jam, it’s wise to invest in some good advice.
You want someone on your side who helps bring out your best, shows you where you could improve, and guides you back when you’re wandering off track.
Someone you meet with one-on-one and are accountable to.
One of our coaching sessions with the awesome Yolanda Finette.
We have an awesome business coach, Yolanda. In a short amount of time she has looked deep into our psyches and fundamentally changed the way Amy and I work — independently and together. We have a mentor through the Victoria Chamber of Commerce who is giving us invaluable advice on how to make our business more impactful (like writing more blog posts. Thanks Sam!) And with the incredible guidance of Lauren Chibert we developed a diversity, equity and inclusion policy that is so good it has morphed into the core values of our business.
The connections you make way will define the kind of business you create.
Amy and I are determined to embed empathy into everything we do. So we gravitate toward people who are driven to make a positive difference in the communities they live and work in. Their businesses might be very different from ours but they invariably seek to work in similar ways. You need to find what’s right for you so you can step into your power and step out of someone else’s (thanks coach!)