OK, so you don’t want a boss anymore. What are you going to do about it?
There is a certain ilk of people out there that will wake up one day, say to themselves “I’d rather work for myself”, write up an ingenious business plan on a few sheets of TP in the handicapped stall of their workplace bathroom, quit their job a month later and wind up on the cover of FastCompany, boasting first year sales projections to top 7 figures.
That is not me. And that is, most likely, not you.
The rest of us need some motivation. Like my Dad used to say during my college summers, when he’d find me curled up in bed at 2’oclock in the afternoon… “you need a real kick in the pants”. And when it comes to digging deep to find the brass to create your own business, sometimes, a nudge will help.
Here are a few of the wells I”ve tapped to help set me in motion during the early stages of building my startup business …
Family and Friends. I will say this, I have a disproportionate advantage than most looking to start their own business – both my Mom and Dad own their own businesses: Dad started Melfast in 1985 and Mom started StenoTech in 1989. Not much can compete with 24 years of first-hand exposure to their companies’ peaks and valleys. An invaluable tally of lessons learned, good and bad, from my folks. That’s tough to beat.
Apart from growing up in my home, I have a handful of friends and former colleagues who have either started their own business or have simply lent an ear, serving as a mentor/coach to help steer me in the right direction (hopefully). Just be careful you’re talking to people that are going to be positive and are qualified to be doling out the advice you’re taking, and even then, cling on to only those pearls that make sense for you and your goals. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, but you’ll eventually pick up on who is full of fluff and who wants to see you succeed and is willing to help get you there.
Blogs. Shocker, I read blogs. While I’m driving (not recommended… hope Geico isn’t reading this). While I’m waiting for the bus, in the rain, with one hand steadily juggling both my Blackberry and umbrella. Reading material in the bathroom? Sure, why not. I’m one of those jerks that pauses in the subway gates because I want to finish reading Eric Ries’ latest Startup Lessons Learned post. I’m hooked on this ever-available media, and, fortunately for me, there is more than enough material to keep me satiated. Here are a few (more) of my favorite business-minded/startup/entrepreneurial blogs:
- Guy Kawasaki’s How to Change the World
- Andrew Warner’s Mixergy
- Jason Fried and David Heinemeier’s (37signals founders) Signals vs. Noise
- Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout
- John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing (also see books below)
- The Wall Street Journal’s Startup Journal
- Anita Bell’s Small Business Trends
- Gonzalo & Fernando Arzuaga and Matias de Tezanos’ Killer Startups
- Matt Marshall’s VentureBeat
Or you could just browse Alltop for a blowout (read: overwhelming) collection of entrepreneurial-based online material. Anyhow, be prepared to get scolded by your significant other to “get off that thing and spend time with the family!”
Books. In my past I had always shied away from formal book reading. I guess I never had the attention span or patience to spend days, let alone weeks, reading the same author’s sentiments. But recently, I’ve fought my bout with ADD and have managed to digest several gems over the past few months. Here is a quick and dirty list of books I would recommend to those looking for either some reward out of their life’s work, a catalyst for their startup plans, some marketing tips & tricks, or a bit of product development know-how:
- Pamela Slim’s: Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur
- Jonathan’s Fields’ Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love
- Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
- Tim Berry’s The Plan-as-You-Go Business Plan
- John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide
- Susan Urquhart-Brown’s The Accidental Entrepreneur: The 50 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Starting a Business
- Mike Michalowicz’s The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur
- Donald G. Reinertsen’s The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development
Websites, Forums. Who better to collaborate with and exchange ideas online than people who have either done it before and are willing to lend a hand (for free, too!), or others in your exact same situation? It’s all about finding comfort in numbers… surrounding yourself with positive, motivated people looking for inspiration from the entrepreneurs next door, or in the case of online collaboration, from entrepreneurs around the world. Like blogs and books, there are dozens of forums out there; below are my top 3:
Myself. When all else fails… when your family is sick of hearing about your latest miracle invention; when your friends have turned into Debbie Downers, sapping all of your entrepreneurial soul; when your Blackberry overheats and dies from blog exhaustion; when your eyes bleed from endless pages of written words, you always have yourself.
I look at it this way. Without my passion to reach out to those friends or subscribe to those blogs or shop for those books, or sign up on those forums, each would be as worthwhile as a perfectly cooked filet mignon to a vegan. It is afterall, me out there writing my own business plan and seeding my own startup. Hell, I’m the one up at 12:23 AM right now writing in a blog that may never get more than 2 hits in 2 years. But I do it because I’m inspiring myself. And in the end, that’s all that matters.
What have you guys done to motivate?