Start with what you have

It’s the same for everything in life. You always have to start somewhere and wherever you do, it’s enough, because starting a business, a project, a career of some kind only takes that first step to push you forward and to let you know what you need to do next.

What we think that keeps us from starting is usually waiting for someone or something else to happen whether it’s the perfect circumstances, more money, a break or just better mood. As banal as it seems, it’s true, but it’s never the real reason. I was always the artistic type, you could find me working on something all the time; up to one point in my life when I no longer had time for anything. And as everyone who writes about this topic, I got too burned out too fast, and realized what I was missing and what I could be doing intead. I see more and more people letting go and trying to create the life they want and that’s probably the best discovery you can make for yourself. But when I eventually made that shift, I didn’t immediately start drawing again. I thought I lost my expression, “my style”. I was waiting for a change, for it to come back, no matter how ridiculous this sounds. Nothing happened, obviously, but I did eventually start drawing again and I still had it in me. Your talent can’t go away and there is nothing you need to specially prepare. Starting a micro business is just like starting anything else in life. So, what do you need to do? Make a firm commitment to yourself? Take it day by day? Maybe. The point is to get going.

If you have some money comming in 3 months that you are sure of and you want to invest that into your business, I will say that’s a valid reason to wait. Something very similar can play the same role, but waiting for something in general, hoping things will get better, is not. In that case you might as well be waiting forever.

Use what you have; your talent, you knowledge, your imagination, a character trait, talk about it, and if starting seems to you more like testing, do it anyway. Starting, no matter how big or small you are, how simple, always means testing. If you have only €100 to spend and you have a way to make it work, then you can make it work.

Money is usually never the issue, no matter what you think of it right now. Even if you’re not an online business, even if you are not a service type of a business, if you make something, do a prototype and then start taking orders. When you get the money, you will make the product and reinvest the profit in materials, in a better website, in marketing, in a new prototype… Doesn’t matter if you make furniture, bikes or jo-jos. The rest can and will get done by investing the effort; building good relationships, communicating, being a good researcher, giving your best.

There is no difference between making jewelry for you and your friends and selling it. Put it on Etsy, or make your own website, enable online payments and send it by mail. A start is a start. The first few sales will help you get more material, with the next few can get better packaging or some nice thank you cards.

If you make furniture and live on groud floor, convert your apartment into a showroom+workspace. I bet there isn’t anyone near you doing this.

If you’re a website designer, search for local small businesses and give them free advice to attract them. Or contact artists, show them your portfolio (which can be imaginary, it doesn’t have to be all commisioned work) and explain how you can help them. In the begining you usually don’t get the clients you want, but if you want a certain audience, you do whatever you can to attract them.

If you want to bake pies, try to struck a deal with a popular local cafe. Make them a good deal to sell your pies and to hand out a sort of a business card with every piece or a whole pie sold. Operate as a catering business at first; bake at home and have them delivered. If your pies are really outstanding, you will succeed, no matter what.

Just start, you have everthing you need. The earlier you start, the faster you’ll get to where you want to be whether that’s having a very successful business, time to learn how to fly planes or dance salsa every night.


photo courtesy Compound Eye

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3 Responses to Start with what you have
  1. slashcareer
    May 31, 2010 | 4:56 AM

    I agree with you, Stella, that starting with what you have is important. Instead of thinking of what I don’t have, and allowing that to become an obstacle to my success, I try always to think about what I do have. And what I do have doesn’t have to always be material – good looks, money, importance, power – these are not the only commodities that can garner success. Like you stated, intelligence, thoughtfulness,creativity, even kindness – these can all be assets and aid me in my achievement.

    Perhaps b/c you and I both are from ethnic groups (I’m African-American) who have had to become pros at “making something out of nothing,” we have learned to appreciate this trait and use it to our advantage.


    p.s met you on Twitter, btw. I’m @slashcareer :)

    • Stella Stopfer
      June 1, 2010 | 9:00 PM

      Hi Eric,

      I know that’s you. :) I have to admit, I think I’m lucky. I’ve always traveled a lot, I was able to experience life in different countires around Europe because I spent a lot of time in some places. And I still do. That has helped me to understand many things, even to look at business differently. I guess that’s one of the reasons I came up with this idea.

      And no, you don’t have to have a lot of money to start a business. I’m all for bootstrapping. But, what keeps people from starting isn’t related to money or somebody giving them an opportunity. It’s usually about the way they see the start. That’s why you should always play with your idea, get the creative juices flowing and the opportunity will present itself. You will find a way to deal with your challenges whether it’s money or production.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by E. Arthur, E. Arthur. E. Arthur said: RT @sstopfer Is what you have right now enough to start your business? [...]