Looking to launch a business or personal brand? Entrepreneurship has been one of the most rewarding, exciting adventures of my life. Starting a business also been one of the most stressful, uncertain, confusing things I have ever done. I started before I was ready (which it turns out was a good thing). I had no idea what I was doing. I researched business filings, tax requirements, and insurance plans. I enrolled in trainings and certification programs. But, if there’s one thing that I wish I had done sooner it’s ask myself the following questions.
Clarity is key when launching a business. Most of us choose to become entrepreneurs because we don’t enjoy the traditional workplace. We’re also filled with ideas and passion and determination. However, without clarity on your desired impact, the transformation that you provide, and what brings you joy, you are likely to find yourself with the same frustrations that you encountered in your 9-5pm grind. Stress may override your passions, ideas may seem impossible, and determination tends to fade as uncertainty mounts. Clarity will see you through.
If you want to launch a business, start by asking yourself these 7 clarifying questions…
1. What do I want my impact to be?
Getting clear on your desired impact is an important starting point for whole-hearted entrepreneurs. Your desired impact will fuel your entrepreneurial journey. It will stoke your business fire. Entrepreneurship is filled with highs and lows, unexpected challenges, and intense uncertainty. You will want to quit. You will second-guess everything. That 40 hour work week with benefits and a retirement account will be more enticing than ever before. It is your desired impact that will give you the strength, passion, and fuel to keep on going. Without this clarity, entrepreneurs can forget that the traditional workplace doesn’t necessarily allow them to leave their unique impact on the world.
This question is also important because it will keep you true to yourself, your values, and your desires. There will be countless business opportunities along your journey, but not all of them will feel good, align with your values, or allow you to create the impact you desire. Say no when it doesn’t feel right. Keep coming back to your desired impact.
2. What brings me joy?
You need joy. I need joy. We all need joy. It’s what makes life worth living. Getting clear on what brings you joy will not only steer your business in a way that feels good, but will keep you from experiencing the same frustrations you have been feeling in the traditional workplace. Because starting your own business will be full of uncertainty and challenges, you will need clarity on what brings you joy so that you don’t lose sight of the many things about entrepreneurship that bring joy into your life. Imagine – How great would it be to have a job that brings joy into your life every single day?!
3. How do I want to feel? AND Does this make me feel [enter feeling(s) here]?
These two questions go hand-in-hand. Get clear on how you want to feel every day of your life. To have a business that feels good you have to design your business around what makes you feel good. It might sound selfish or wildly nontraditional, but it’s true. You likely left (or want to leave) your 9-5pm job because it doesn’t make you feel good, so why design an entrepreneurial endeavor that also doesn’t make you feel good? You deserve to feel exactly how you want to feel, but only you can make that happen.
Once you are clear on how you want to feel, you must make decisions that align with these feelings. For example, I desire to feel adventure, inspiration, connection, and flow (among others). When I am faced with a new business decision or am reevaluating my business endeavors, I ask myself Does this make me feel adventure, inspiration, connection, or flow? If it does, I’m all in. If it doesn’t, I say no. Saying no is a skill. As an entrepreneur, you will need it.
4. Where do I thrive?
This was a question that I wish I had asked myself sooner. I spent so much time trying to be what I thought other people wanted, which left me feeling inauthentic, burnt out, and staring at an empty business calendar. Once my business coach pushed me to recognize where I thrive, I became much more productive, engaging, and joyful. Working within my realm of natural strength and talent allowed me to grow my business and attract new clients to my programs, events, and memberships.
Not sure how to know where you thrive? Take this awesome sweet spot quiz from one of my favorite entrepreneurs Rachel Cook. This quiz reaffirmed where I needed to invest my time and energy as a business owner in order to leverage my strengths. In case you’re curious, I fall into the Maven category.
“Magnetic. Inspiring. Catalyst. Mavens are the catalysts of the world. They see opportunities and adore big out-of-the-box ideas that have the potential to revolutionize the way we approach life, health, relationships, spirituality, and business. Combined with their natural charisma and presence, Mavens are the speakers and leaders we turn to for inspiration. “
I love inspiring others. I have a big, vibrant energy. Ideas are flying into my brain every minute of every hour. And, I might be the only person ever to actually enjoy public speaking.
Because this is where I thrive, I do a lot of speaking engagements, workshops, and public events. I get out in front of people and let my big, vibrant energy shine. This is where I can make my impact. If you, however, despise public speaking, desire to work exclusively 1-on-1 with clients, or dive deep into research, you’re going to have to go about things differently. You might create an intensive 1-on-1 program, research the crap out of a topic and write a book about it, or host intimate group events limited to only a handful of folks. To be successful, you have to live and work where you thrive.
5. What problem does my business solve?
A wise business coach once told me that people don’t pay for your knowledge, they pay for you to solve their problems. Deep down I knew this to be true, but I never thought about it in this way. As I let this realization sink in, I thought about why I have ever invested in anything – I had a problem, and I was presented with a possible solution. Essentially, we don’t pay people to know what they know. We pay them to transform our lives with what they know.
6. What is the transformation that I provide?
Getting clear on the problem that your business solves is just one piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle. Another important piece is getting clear on the transformation that you provide. In order to solve a problem, you have to provide a transformation. There must be a before and after. This is what attracts people to your business. They see themselves as the before and desire to transform into the after. You provide that transformation. Stop highlighting your knowledge and start emphasizing the transformation that you can provide with this knowledge. That’s what clients want.
7. Where do I need support, assistance, & insight?
When you first embark on your life as an entrepreneur it can feel like you need support all day every day. It often feels like you know nothing (Jon Snow). I get it; I felt that way, too. As you get clear on where you thrive, the problems you aim to solve, and the transformation you provide to your clients, you will begin to see where you already have a wealth of insight and expertise. You will also likely see gaps. Whether it is accounting, marketing, web design, branding, biz strategy, or anything else – there is someone who can help. Make a list of the support and assistance that you desire. Do some research to learn who you need to hire, what you need to read, classes you might need to take, and resources you need to gather. And, remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help.