Last week, I mentioned a lot of the challenges in starting your own business. Now let’s talk about what I think is the single biggest reward: you get to design your dream business from the ground up.
How many other opportunities do you get in life to really take control of every element of how something works? It is a real blessing for anyone, but I think especially for the creative person. Because it really is an act of enormous creativity.
Before you start working on your business, before you start researching or developing products or even writing a business plan, I’d really encourage you to step back and think about what your dream business would be like. What qualities would it have? How would other people describe it? What aspects of it are most important? How is it different, and better, than all the other similar businesses? Really let your imagination run wild and consider what would make it perfect for you.
You can write these ideas down in a list format, or write a few paragraphs to create a thumbnail sketch of what your dream business is like.
Next, think about your own role in the business, and what you want to get from it. Think about yourself leading this business in five years, and what would make you happy. Your dream could be to have your own studio space and wonderful people working with you. Or it could be to have flexible time to spend with your family. Everyone is different, and we all have plenty of dreams other than “make enough money.”
Once you’ve spent some time brainstorming, it should be easy to distill these into two sets of goals: goals for your business, and goals for yourself. I find it important to separate these, because they’re two pretty different sets of goals that may or may not overlap. For example, my goals for my dream business were to have a pattern company that produced beautiful & flattering designs, were beautifully and thoughtfully packaged, had terrific instructions, and inspired people to sew. But my personal goals were to spend my time designing & creating, to have enough time and resources to travel more, to have flexible time so I can go for a bike ride or bake a cake when I feel like it, to be able to collaborate with other creative people, and to have a great workspace someday.
Because you’ve really allowed yourself to fantasize, your goals will probably be pretty ambitious, but they’ll also be the right goals for you, and that is what makes all the difference. You should hold on to these goals: They will be a great foundation for planning, but they’ll also be essential later on. When you’re working hard, feeling frustrated, or just unsure of yourself, it is incredibly satisfying to look back at your goals and see how far you’ve progressed.