You want to start a lifestyle business to achieve freedom and flexibility, but you're at a loss.
You think you don't know where to start, so instead of making progress, you continue to remain stagnant.
The truth is, every moment that passes is lost time, pushing your goal further from reality.
The truth about where to start
It might sound a bit crazy right now, but hear me out: The truth is, you do know where to start.
You know at least a few actions you could take to move you closer to your goal, or a few that would help you start your business. But to you, they don't seem significant.
So instead of taking those tiny steps, you get caught up in the things that don't matter right now.
You're worrying about how to start making $10,000/month when you haven't even thought of your idea. You're wondering where to start finding customers when you haven't built a product yet.
You might not even know you're putting the cart before the horse, but the truth is, before you can get from point A to point B, you need to just need to get to point A.
So, even if those small steps seem insignificant, they are the answer to the age-old question, "Where do I start?"
Those steps, no matter how small, will help you build your path because of three components:
Fueled by a desire to make something for yourself and the determination to finish, you'll continue to build.
Once you start, you nudge the ball. If you start small enough, it will continue to roll.
3. Small Wins
Small wins are motivating, but being at the bottom of a big mountain you are supposed to scale is not.
Setting a goal to lose 100 pounds will demotivate you, but setting a goal to lose 10, and then losing the first pound will provide a motivation boost because it shows progress.
In a minute, I'll give you 16 actions you can take right now to get your business started.
These actions will equip you with determination, momentum and small wins to keep the ball rolling.
Naturally, we don't like to leave things unfinished, so taking these small actions will provide you with the determination to continue building. You wouldn't lay one brick and then stop building the path, would you?
All of the actions in this post are small wins. You may be tempted to go big, but I encourage you to just start with the actions below.
Then, take smaller, more focused actions toward starting. Small wins feel good and will keep you motivated.
Let's get into it.
16 actions you can take right away to get started
1. Break it down
Still think you don't know where to start? You probably have the answer, but it might be buried in a large, seemingly overwhelming process.
Breaking it down into bite-sized chunks will help you see it clearer.
If you do have an idea, what are the steps you need to take to bring you from where you are to where you want to be, not ultimately, but by the end of the week or month?
For example, say I want to start a business selling on Amazon through the company's FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) program. I probably know where to start, I just have to break that down.
First, I have to sign up for an Amazon seller account. Then, I need to find profitable products. Then, I need to buy the profitable products. Then, I need to prepare them to ship to Amazon.
Going through the step-by-step process of how to get to the first sale helps me find the first step I need to take: Signing up for an Amazon seller account. Time: 20 minutes
2. Buy your domain and hosting
This is an easy, painless way to start. If you don't know what you want to call your idea, don't use that as an excuse to avoid starting.
Either spend an hour and pick a killer domain name, or just buy your name (i.e., sallysmith.com).
You can always change it later. The point is to get the ball rolling down the hill. Get your website started by buying your hosting.
It takes even less time if you buy your domain through your host. Time: 5 minutes
3. Write your "why"
Your "why" is the driver for your idea or business, and writing your "why" is a powerfully motivating exercise.
So, think about it: Why are you pursuing this particular idea?
If you don't have an idea yet, why do you want to start a business at all? Remember, your "why" is not because you are an expert in the topic.
You're expert in a lot of things, but you chose this particular idea.
For example, I'm expert at using Microsoft Word, making green smoothies and dog breeds, but I've chosen lifestyle and career design.
My "why" is because I strongly believe everyone should have the freedom and flexibility to work when, how and on what he or she wants. Don't overlook this as a fluffy exercise. Time: 20 minutes
4. Set a "launch" date
Working toward something blindly without having a timeline will throw fuel on the fire of procrastination.
If you don't know what you'll launch, set a "quit my job" date. That will be the date you have to work toward to build this thing.
You will be unemployed after that point, and you'll need to support yourself.
If a "quit my job" date doesn't apply to you, set a "tell everybody I know about my plan" date. No excuses, set some sort of date and announce it. Time: 5 minutes
5. Tell someone about it
Think of someone you know who will keep you accountable.
Ideally, this is someone who has already started something for him or herself and will support you, but will also give you some tough love when you need it.
Do not way what you're "thinking" of starting; say you are starting it.
Share your date, and don't be afraid to be vulnerable and open up about it.
Share how long you've had the idea and all of the excuses you've used to get out of doing it.
It will feel great and he or she will be able to call your bluff the next time you make an excuse. Time: 10 minutes
6. Have a conversation
Connect with a member of your target market or audience and have a conversation with him or her.
Find out what issues he or she is experiencing. Use this research to vet your idea for free. Time: 20 minutes
7. Stalk someone
Okay, please don't go out there and earn yourself a restraining order. But do find someone who is successful in doing what you want to do and spend the next 20 minutes studying one aspect of what makes him or her successful.
If he or she owns a super successful Etsy store, go through his or her photos and note backgrounds, image quality and shots.
If your successful person is a blogger, study his or her writing style and the way he or she engages with the audience. Time: 20 minutes
8. Spend some money
Derek Halpern has a great video about procrastination, and his method works almost every time: Pay for something.
Sounds crazy, right? But in the video, Derek goes over why paying for something helps you follow through with it. It's because you are putting something at stake.
In this case, it's your money and your reputation. So, why not get a coach to help you through the, "I don't know where to start," procrastination excuse?
If you pay for a coaching session, your money is at stake. Not only will the coach help you find where to start, but you will naturally start after having hired a coach. Time: 15 minutes
9. Procrastinate (intentionally)
Spend the next 20 minutes on Reddit, Pinterest or Quora. These sites are a great place for market research and you can get some seriously good ideas by absorbing your target market's questions.
If you already have your idea, these will give you an edge by showing you exactly what your target market is thinking, struggling with and what words they use to describe it. Time: 20 minutes
10. Kick back and read
Chill out and spend the next 20 minutes reading a book. Not just any book, but a book related to marketing or business. Look for one that's inspiring. Time: 20 minutes
11. Go shopping
Spend 20 minutes figuring out what you want to sell and spend a small amount of money on the samples at Alibaba. Or, if your idea is an Etsy shop, run to the store to get your supplies to make your first item.
If you have an idea for an information product, start sourcing designers. Time: 20 minutes
12. Write your "about" page
It doesn't matter what type of business you want to start — it needs an "about" page. Blogs, Etsy Shops, Amazon Stores, eBay Stores, consultants, coaches and advisors all have one thing in common: They need to tell the world what they do.
So, even if you don't know what you want to call your business, you can write an "About" page. Bonus: This can also focus you and provide clarity. Time: 20 minutes
13. Make reservations
No, not at a restaurant; rather, reserve your Facebook page and Twitter handle.
The reality is, most businesses these days have a presence on social media and starting with these things are small, bite-sized actions that can get the momentum flowing. Time: 10 minutes
14. Create a schedule
Now that you've broken the steps to starting down, you can schedule in the steps to avoid procrastination.
Read my post: An Insanely Simple 3-Step Guide to Killing Procrastination to find out why scheduling works. Time: 15 minutes
15. Brainstorm tagline ideas
Not all businesses need a tagline, but don't let that stop you for brainstorming tagline ideas. A good tagline can do double duty; it can serve as your elevator pitch, too.
No matter what your idea is, you'll benefit from explaining what you are planning to do into one or two sentences. Time: 20 minutes
Create your perfect day. Spend 20 minutes daydreaming (in vivid detail) about exactly how your perfect day would go once you start your business.
When it's successful and you've reached your goal, what will your life look like?
Chris Guillebeau, in his post, Lifestyle Design in Your Ideal World, suggests you write it out in great detail and imagine what you will do, with whom you will interact and even what you will eat.
This is not only very motivating, but it will keep you on track by helping you start on the right things.
If what you're starting with isn't moving you closer to making that perfect day a reality, it's not the right action to take. Time: 20 minutes
It's time to stop thinking and start doing
Even if you do all of these things over the next few days, you won't automatically have a successful business.
There are no easy buttons or quick fixes to build a lifestyle business.
But, if you do even one of these things, or better yet, two or three, you'll have fueled your determination, started gaining momentum and generated small wins.
And once you start and activate these forces, you'll become unstoppable.
You'll have torn down the barrier of not knowing where to start.
Sarah Peterson is the author of Unsettle.org, where she encourages people to never settle for careers they don’t love. Sign up for her free course to find the perfect idea for a lifestyle business so you can gain flexibility and freedom and do work you love.
This article was originally published on Unsettle.org