When you're at the beginning of wanting to start your own business, there are several hurdles that can prevent you even reaching the start line:
You have a business idea but you're not sure whether it will work (or perhaps you don't have one at all yet)
You have several ideas and you can't choose between them
You've got an idea but it's too big - how can you get started without investment and without quitting your current work?
If this is you, then let me introduce you to your knight in shining startup armour, who comes with a solution that could just help solve all of the queries, concerns and excuses that come with the prospect of starting up that little business of your dreams.
John Williams, author of bestselling book 'Screw Work, Let's Play' (a brilliantly entertaining book that soothes your 'I'll never be able to escape this rat race' fears) has now been running a course called 'The 30 Day Challenge' for 3 years, and has seen over 700 global participants see their projects through from a scrappy idea that won't go away (or even no idea at all!), to something that actually resembles the beginnings of a new business and life-style... and all in as little as 20 minutes a day.
If your heart is now beating a little faster, you are exactly the type of person who would benefit from taking part in this one-of-a-kind adventure with 200 participants around the world.
Here's a little more from John on exactly how the 30 day challenge breaks down what seems like an gargantuan task of starting your own business:
You've got an idea you want to put into action - an idea for a business, or just a vision of making a living doing something you love.
But... it's BIG. Too big.
It requires you to quit your job. Or it needs a lot of money. Or a whole team of people. Or premises. Or a huge technical build. Or it simply requires masses of time and energy (which you don't have).
So what do you do?
Has your answer 'til now been to put your idea back in a drawer and get on with your life? Then you have just got to start doing something different. There are far too many people who have good ideas fading away somewhere at the back at their mind (while someone else has the same idea and goes and makes a success of it).
There's nothing wrong with having big ideas - a million dollar business, a best-selling book, a national movement, or simply making a full-time living from something you love. It's a useful skill to be able to take an idea and envision exactly how huge it could become. But... you also need be to able to do the opposite and chunk it down into manageable projects, starting with one you can begin right now.
Sure, you can go 'big bang' on your idea; go hell for leather and enlist all the people you need, write a business plan and go search for funding. Or quit your job and bank everything on your first book being a hit. If that's a style of operating that's worked for you successfully in the past, and you're comfortable with the risk involved, it may be right for you.
For the rest of us, the thought of biting it all off in one chunk is overwhelming. And that's not helpful if it means we end up doing nothing.
Honey, I shrunk my idea
You don't have to give up on your grand vision of a big business, national fame, or finding a way of making a full time income without a job. You can start small, test it out, improve it, then grow it and scale it towards your original vision.
It just requires you to be willing to think like a player, not a worker. It means being willing to play it out one step at a time - even if you don't know exactly where it will take you and you can't yet see how it can make you a full-time income. You'd be surprised how many successful ideas and businesses started out like this! (It's a lot of fun too)
Here's how to do it:
Design a 30 day 'Play Project' that immerses you in making your idea happen (or at least some part of it).
Since you're not trying to create your whole vision yet but just a part of it, choose the project to be centred on the bit that's most exciting to you. If you want to consult to people on projects, go find the find person to hire you (who will probably be a friend or colleague), don't spend the first 30 days building a fancy website for your future consultancy business.
Make sure the project produces something you can share - some tangible result, not just 30 days of sitting and googling! Finish with your first app created, or a testimonial from your first client.
Set a deadline in 30 days' time to share your result with others - show it to your friends, put it on your blog, tweet or facebook it. Share photos, recordings, videos on youtube. Write about the experience on a blog.
Start doing it - do a little every day if you're fitting it around your current work, don't wait for hours of free time to magically open up in your diary
When you complete it, look at how you could build on it to take it further. If it didn't work out the way you'd hoped, adjust your approach to give you more of the results you want and launch your next Play Project. Each one can build on the results of the last and at the end of every one, you'll have something real to show for it - the kind of stuff that opens doors to even bigger opportunities.
What will you do?
What do you want to do? Here are some example play projects to help make it happen.
Got a business idea? Start blogging about the area or the problem you want to help with. Interview people, experiment with possible solutions. If you're selling your own services, aim to get your first piece of work within 30 days, even if it's at a reduced fee for a friend or colleague.
Got a grand website idea? If it's based around content you're creating, create the site first in WordPress. If it's more interactive than that, see if there's a commercial system you can use to test the idea out. (Eg if you want to create your own social network, use NING before you custom build a whole system)
Want to write a book? Write the outline and one chapter. Or... start writing about your topic on a blog. If you want to be a novelist, you might start with a short story. Send it to some friendly readers.
Want to be a public speaker? Go to Toastmasters, learn some of the basics and set a deadline to give your first talk of 5-10 minutes at one of the meetings. Want to be a personal stylist or professional organisor? Go and volunteer to do it for a friend first - either for free or for a reduced fee.
If you want to launch a national campaign or change the world, create a Facebook group for your cause and then create an event that people can take part in to build a buzz.
Can't wait to get started?
The 30 Day Challenge is a complete programme led by John Williams and his team with 200 people around the world finding a money-making idea they love and launching it in 30 days.
Click below to get all the information. The challenge begins on 1 November but booking opens this Thursday, 10 October at midday (BST).
I highly recommend getting involved with the 30 day challenge, and will in fact, be joining in myself this time... I'll keep you updated on my project and how it comes along.
Here's the link for more details and to book your place:
THE SCREW WORK LET'S PLAY 30 DAY CHALLENGE
Written by Rosa Glover, Global Programmes Manager for TechHub.