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So you had it… your eureka moment. Congratulations! Perhaps it was a flash of genius in the bathtub like Archimedes himself. Perhaps your bright idea has been creeping up on you for a while and you’re finally ready to take action. Either way, converting an idea into a physical reality is often the biggest step to take along the road of entrepreneurship. It’s easy—and less risky or vulnerable—to simply talk about our brilliant ideas with friends. Yet the beauty of ideas is that they can be birthed into the world if we have the courage to do so.
So how do we take that next step? Abby Allen, founder of branding and marketing firm Neon Butterfly, says the first step is to take a look at what we think would be holding us back. “Think about what you’re most afraid of in terms of ‘failure’, and imagine that worst-case scenario,” she suggests.
“More often than not the worst case scenario isn’t really that bad, and, if it is, you can still figure a way out of it,” says Abby. “Once you get a handle on your greatest fear and can set that aside, you have more space and focus for making the leap.”
Once you’ve hurdled the fear, the task at hand is then to hone in on the idea and determine what exactly it is you want to create. Here’s where a business plan can come in handy. Marika Bethel went from marketing director at AT&T to running her own colon therapy business, and says those early stages of development were the most crucial.
“It doesn’t have to be a formal plan,” says Marika, “but by writing your ideas down and brainstorming that idea until it becomes concise, you can really start to get clarity on what it is you really want to bring to the world.” She says that creating a plan forced her to think more about who she wanted to reach and why, and how she could best create a service that would suit that market.
“Once you get a handle on your greatest fear and can set that aside, you have more space and focus for making the leap” – Abby Allen
Abby suggests singing about your idea, or having it up on a wall, until you can articulate it in just one sentence that people will immediately understand. “This takes time, so have patience,” she says. “The first articulation is probably not going to be it, but each version will get you closer to that Aha! moment, and when you get there it feels so good.”
She adds that in this very early stage it’s best not to think about the financial gains or potential accomplishments, but rather how we can serve others with our idea. “The people whose mission includes giving back to others even in a small way are the happiest and most successful in terms of achieving their goals,” she says.
Focusing on Service
Indeed: Ask the most successful female entrepreneurs, and they will tell you that it is their passion to serve others that has enabled them to stay focused. Sonia Noy gave up a career in PR to run her own pilates business. “It was a very difficult decision to go from a steady career to start over—especially as my husband and I had two girls to support. But I knew I wanted to be able to offer back to the world what pilates gave me,” says Sonia, who found pilates after a youth career in ballet had left her joints so compromised that she couldn’t walk without pain.
“In that first year of a new venture you may wobble, you may question why you’re doing it when the money is a challenge, or there may be pressure on those that support you,” she says. “So, you need to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
The beauty of ideas is that they can be birthed into the world if we have the courage to do so.
From this mindset it’s harder to go wrong later because every challenge will be embraced as a step closer to bringing something positive to the world. Marika agrees that a strong belief that what you’re doing is needed will sustain you when things get tough.
“In the early days I often lived on ramen noodles because I wanted to use my finances to buy better equipment or pay the rent for a good studio space for clients,” says Marika. “That would have been hard had I not been believed so fully in what I was doing.”
She adds that her biggest lesson has been to stay true to what she wanted to bring to the world, but also to remain unattached to how that evolved. “My service to clients has always been the focus so that meant letting go of owning my own studio because rents became so high I would have had to compromise on price or quality. I now partner with a spa and have more freedom. If I’d been attached to the idea of keeping the studio I would have lost the heart of my business.”
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