by: Melinda Cohan
This article is the second in our The Success Path series. In the first article, we explained that The Success Path is a five-stage path coach-preneurs journey, as they go from coach, to startup business owner, to CEO. To navigate the journey successfully, it’s important to complete each stage before moving on to the next. In the exercise at the end of the first article, we helped you identify where you are now on The Success Path, and what you need to do to continue on this journey to whichever stage you consider your final destination. We recommend reading the first article here before reading the article below: The Start-Up Entrepreneur’s Success Path: The Critical Process of Mapping Your Route to Success
Have you ever jumped off a cliff, or even a diving board, into the water? There’s that moment, when you’re standing there, looking down, hesitating … and then you just do it: you commit. You commit to making that jump.
When it comes to The Success Path we outlined in our last article, that’s what the first stage, the Declaration Stage, is all about: making the deep, soul-level commitment to do whatever it takes to create the success of which you dream, even if, at this time, it seems counter-intuitive or counter-logical (I mean, who jumps off a cliff?!).
If you’re in the Declaration Stage, your focus is to gather what’s necessary to make the move from full-time job to full-time business. That includes having a financial cushion, so you’re able to make the transition without that feeling of desperation that it has to work RIGHT NOW, or you might go under water.
Many coach-preneurs in the Declaration Stage try to go it alone – to figure it all out by themselves. When they begin to get overwhelmed, gremlins creep in and stop any forward momentum.
With guidance, support, and a mentor to show you the way, you can lean in and “borrow” their courage until you locate your own. We’d like to share some of our guidance, here.
What you may be experiencing if you’re in the Declaration Stage:
As startup coaches traverse the Declaration Stage, they may feel nervousness, self-doubt, and trepidation. And it’s understandable! Starting a new business is a huge step out of your comfort zone.
To illustrate those feelings, I’d like to share a few snippets from actual conversations I recently had with startup coaches.
“Melinda, you told me, ‘No brand, no business, no problem,’ but I’m starting to think this isn’t possible and I’m just not ready for this yet. I think I need to figure out a lot more stuff before I’m ready to get going.”
“Melinda, I am scared to death! Like literally, it feels paralyzing to think about moving forward with my business. I don’t think I have what it takes to do this. What if it doesn’t work? What if I go for it, and it fails?”
“I don’t have any money. I need to make some fast, and I want to start my business. Can you tell me how to create a business when I don’t have any money?”
What you should know:
Most startup entrepreneurs, who begin in the Declaration Stage, simply don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s okay—you’re not supposed to know what’s involved to start and launch a business.
All you’re supposed to do at the beginning is make that commitment to learn what you need to know, and to do what you need to do, to build a successful business.
If you’re telling yourself you should know everything, right away, you’re going to feel stressed out and overwhelmed.
It’s natural to feel nervous, so be kind to yourself as you start this journey.
A mentor once told me, “Melinda, you must get profoundly comfortable with the discomfort of being an entrepreneur.”
By being the very thing we are, we naturally live outside our comfort levels all the time! It’s just the nature of being an entrepreneur.
This very nature, which drives our passion, is the very thing that can cripple us if we leave it isolated.
That’s why it’s so important to declare that we’re entrepreneurs at heart, and to dare to live outside our comfort zones … because that’s where our greatest passion and impact lies. And the best way to get comfortable constantly living outside our comfort zones is to surround ourselves with like-minded community, invest in a great mentor who can lead us along the way, and have massive compassion for ourselves. Oh, and make FUN a #1 priority in how we do everything!
So, make the declaration! Make the commitment! Breathe deeply, be present, and get the support and guidance you need to lean into the discomfort of being an entrepreneur. Give yourself permission to keep moving forward.
Now, we’re going to walk, step-by-step, through the three things you should do in the Declaration Stage.
Here we go!
How to move through the Declaration Stage effectively:
You may believe that the first thing you need to do as a coach-preneur is to get clients. This is actually backwards thinking! This may sound counter-logical, but getting clients is actually one of the last things you should think about. (Stay tuned for more on this – an upcoming article in this series will delve into this topic more deeply.)
As a coach, it’s important to be and look professional. If you hit the streets and start looking for clients before you’re truly ready, you won’t look professional at all—you’ll feel overwhelmed, nervous, and full of doubt. That’s why we want to make sure you have all the knowledge you need to move through the Declaration Stage effectively! Keep reading to discover the three things you must do during this stage.
Get clear on your WHY statement.
Why are you making this jump? Why are you starting a business rather than coaching as a hobby, or working for someone else? What is truly driving you to start a business doing what you love?
Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey is a giant leap out of your comfort zone and into a cold pool of water! Because you are moving continuously farther outside your comfort zone, it’s easy for gremlins, doubts, and uncertainties to get the best of you. They try to push you back toward your comfort zone.
You WHY statement is like a lighthouse beacon! It gives you direction, as you swat away those gremlins, doubts, and uncertainties … like the very ones I’m getting right now, as I write this post, even though I’ve been in business for 14 years:
- “What if no one likes this?”
- “I shouldn’t put this information out there, no one will read it; everyone is too busy anyway.”
- “This really isn’t going to help anyone get clients; just forget it.”
And then I picture Dahalia or Deni, or Margarita, or Tony and the very thought of the people I’m helping reminds me of my WHY statement, which compels me to keep moving forward.
Your WHY statement carries you through with focus, determination, and consistency as you move forward.
Create your WHY statement. Then frame it and hang it on the wall where you work, so you see it every day. For 14 years, my napkin with my vision and WHY statement has hung on my office wall. I refer to it often as my fuel when I hit doubt and uncertainty.
Then, post your WHY statement in the comments below – I’d LOVE to read it.
Get prepared, financially.
Most entrepreneurs operate in the creative, intuitive, nurturing side of their brain, and they often believe structure is limiting. However, in the case of starting your business, organization, structure, and preparation bring about the greatest amount of freedom, and the quickest results.
It’s simple, right?
When you don’t have things organized, and processes defined (and by “processes,” I mean a series of steps you take to get a certain result) in advance, it’s like you’re “shootin’ blind.” I might as well ask you to put on a blindfold, wad up a piece of paper, and hit that goal. You can’t see it – you have no idea where it is – so how in the world will you hit it?
Sure, there’s a chance you might get lucky, and hit the mark. But why leave it to chance?
When you have a bit of organization, and defined processes and steps already in place, you can clearly see your target goal, you know what it takes to reach it, and you simply repeat those defined steps over and over, to consistently reach your goal.
When it comes to your finances, it would be ideal if you could set aside a cash reserve of three to six months’ worth of your required, necessary, vital expenses (not the nice-to-haves, but the absolutely need-to-haves, like a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on your back).
Many entrepreneurs are hoping to leave a full-time J-O-B to start a full-time business, but without a financial cushion, you’ll likely feel desperate, or stuck and filled with trepidation, which may stop you from taking the action necessary to make your business dreams a reality. You’ll quickly run out of time, energy, passion, and money before you realize your goals
So, for a short time, commit to living carefully, when it comes to finances—be diligent in your expenses, protective of your spending and savings—so that you can eventually experience money freedom and momentum.
What if you don’t have this cushion and you can’t create it from your existing situation?
I recommend choosing one of two options:
Option One. Get a bridge job to help you create this cushion. A bridge job is a short-term, often part-time gig that is simple, requires little effort, and allows you to leave work at work. Its sole purpose is to allow you to save up enough money to create the cushion.
Option Two. Talk to your current boss about the possibility of creating a situation in which you go part-time for him or her, so you still receive a consistent income while freeing up some of your time to begin creating your new business.
Either way, looking at your job as a means to an end is liberating, and your situation will no longer feel like it’s strangling you!
Determine your absolute, necessary, fixed expenses each month, and then save $1,000 fast! Then, create and set aside 3-6 months’ financial cushion into a savings account. This may require a simple, part-time bridge job in the interim. This doesn’t delay your pursuits (rather, it catapults you toward them faster).
Get prepared, organizationally.
As I mentioned above, many startup coach-preneurs believe they must rush out and get clients, first thing. Taking that a step further, these same coach-preneurs believe that if they’re going to get clients, they need to have an official business—which means they need a business name, a logo, and a website.
Hold it right there.
This, too, is backwards thinking. Yes, creating a website, a logo, and a company name creates a strong business identity. But there are other things you must do before you complete these tasks.
Follow these steps to create a solid foundation for your business identity and brand to stand on:
- Set up an LLC, S-Corp, or some type of business entity to provide protection for you personally and your personal assets.
- Open a business checking account. Deposit $25 at a time until you save $1,000.
- Obtain a P.O. Box for your business.
- Create a dedicated office space, even if you’re working from home.
- Schedule intended office hours.
- Write a business plan that includes your goals for number of clients, revenue, and initial marketing plan.
- Learn the best coaching business practices necessary to locate prospects, convert them, engage them, support them, and get paid by them.
Again, make the declaration! Make the commitment! Breathe deeply, be present, and get the support and guidance you need to lean into the discomfort of being an entrepreneur. Give yourself permission to keep moving forward, to believe in your dream, and do whatever it takes to pursue your dreams.
Declaration Stage Mantra.
As you go through your day, think these thoughts to continue to create magic, strengthen your courage, and keep moving forward.
My timing is perfect! Otherwise I’d be doing it differently.
I’ve never done this business thing. I am not supposed to know what to do, but I can align myself with those who do; and with their support, I am creating big magic and big success, fast!
I am profoundly comfortable with the discomfort of being an entrepreneur.
I am living like no one else so I can live like no one else.
And please share! Post your preferred mantra (from above or one of your own) in the comments below.
Go out there, and create magic!
Complete the exercises in this post, and then move on to the next stage, The Transition Stage. (You won’t want to miss this, because we’re talkin’ list growing, baby!) 😉
Watch your inbox for the next article in this series, which gives you everything you need to know about navigating The Transition Stage.