We recently had a visitor in the shop who wanted to come by and see more of what we do. He mentioned in a email conversation that he wanted to go into a gear related business. As we chatted, I could hear some of the early thoughts I had when trying to make a business of the pickups: A lot of uncertainty, but a desire to make something. Not knowing exactly how to do it, but looking for answers. “How do I get started?” “What did you do to get to full time?”
These questions always cause me to pause. I don’t know that I have all the answers, and I mostly just share my experience and try to communicate my values. I often wonder if it helps others, but they seem to take something from it.
The irony is that given our current situation, I found myself telling him several things I needed to hear as well:
- Sometimes it’s about taking a jump when you don’t have 100% confidence in the results. Whats the worst that could happen? You’d need to get another job, sell a few things? Time your jumps. Sometimes the first few are often smaller leaps compared to the ones down the road.
- Business MUST be more about the product itself and filling a need than “figuring out” all the business dynamics initially. Don’t build a business before you have something to sell.
- Slow and steady is OK. Set goals, and see if they can be reached one at a time. Can you borrow space to get your idea started? Can you network with someone to help you get off the ground? Business plans often blow up. Continued work towards a goal is important no matter how small the improvements/investments are. Maybe you only have time to spend a few hours a week. Commit to it.
- Observe and survey. Watch others in business. Can you learn something from the way they do things? (Both what to do, and what not to do) Take as much as you can from these observations, they are often more valuable than your average business books advice.
- How do you fit in? When you make something, where can you add value and develop you company values into the product and how it will help others?
- Don’t let fear of the unknown cause you to forget why you do things or keep you from getting started. It’s not worth listening to outside noise or anything that would cause you not to move forward. Easier said than done, but it’s important to push through these phases (because they will come). All the companies out there have gone through it at some point.
So I said to him (and to myself)
“Go for it”