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Startup lesson #02: Don't be daunted

Lessons from 100 days of starting my own business

Many of us are used to working as part of a team at a large company, so it takes some time to adjust to the fact that, as a sole founder or small business owner, you have to do everything. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by this, and this is something I’ve had to battle almost every day of the last 100 days.

When you’re sitting at a computer screen trying to figure out all the traction channels you want to tap into over the next six months, all the conversations you need to have in order to get your product to market, or the amount of writing you have to do in order to bring your website to life, or the new skills you have to learn in order to be able to raise your professional profile, and that of your business, the amount of work involved may seem insurmountable.

Each task you list may be a task that will take several days to accomplish – and you have 30 of them! And you know you don’t have 30 weeks to do it all. You may panic and lose focus because you don’t know where to start, or because you’re simply so excited that you want to work on all of it, right now. Don’t allow your fear, or your excitement, to distract you. If you need to, create a marketing planner and decide when you want each marketing activity to go live. Set achievable goals. Reduce the number of goals if you need to (hint: we all need to).

Be really strict with yourself in setting what you see as the vision for your business. This isn’t a plan for your business; it’s a statement of the values that embody whatever it is you’re working on. These values will develop over time, but you need this overarching vision or mission to be able to structure your work strategically, and work more effectively.

Set goals for each month, each week and each day, and try and make them as realistic as possible. In the very early days of your business, it often isn’t possible to plan further in advance than that. I tried planning 3 months in advance and quickly found that my plans had to be far more responsive and flexible than I imagined, as I learnt more about the processes involved, the timelines and limitations of the industry I was exploring, and the feasibility of the things I was trying to achieve.

It’s great to have goals that extend beyond one month, and you definitely need these, but you should place them in a bucket market ‘future’, without giving yourself a deadline. Review this list often, and move things into your ‘to do’ list when you need to.

Work backwards in terms of what you need to achieve. List three things that you want to achieve within a month from now, then list three things that you need to do this week to work towards them. Then identify three things you can complete today towards your weekly goals, and mark those as your priorities for the day. Do not focus on anything else until these three things are done. Focus like crazy until they are done.

You have to fight to overcome the overwhelm, and the first step towards this is setting yourself manageable goals. It does get easier in time.

I'm Claire Ransom, and I'm a writer and business owner. I founded Lazy Flora, a garden-in-a-box delivery company, in February 2017. This blog post is part of a series on things I learnt during 100 days of starting my own business.

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