Let me say it again….your business….your dream…..doesn’t have to be perfect to launch. In fact, if you wait until it is…..you’ll never get it off the ground. So let’s discuss the theory I call… 80 and go! Yep, at this point you have everything at about 80% and you’re thinking……what should I do next? Did I need to tweak this or that? Or worse yet there’s the fear factor of what happens if I build it….and nobody comes. Well here’s the thing….you have invested a LOT of time, effort, and energy into this project. Now there’s only one thing left to do………it’s time to see if it floats. And the only way to do that is…..you guessed it…launch!!! Hang that sign out…..We’re Open For Business! Now don’t you feel better.
So…there are two groups of us out there in the Entrepreneural space I’m talking to today……..First there’s the “Burn the Ships” crowd (and you can count me in as part of that group). We’re the bold and brave….or some call us less than smart (stupid). In fact, do you know that story….ok a quick sidebar. When Cortez came to the new world in search of the Aztec tribes he believed his men needed great motivation. So after everyone was off the ships and standing on shore….yep you guessed it……he burned his ships…..lit’m up and watched from shore as they sunk into the harbor. There was only one thing left to do….forget what lies behind…in fact there is nothing left behind. So we move forward toward the goal….the prize that Cortez had set out to achieve. And some of us have done the very same thing. We did the research, set up our organization, procured the business license and insurance, have about three months (or in some cases three days worth of reserves), quit our job on Friday and come Monday, we’re off. There is no going back….it’s make this work or bust….I mean literally we go under if this doesn’t work. Fear becomes the great motivator…if nothing else. The second group….I call waders. You know…toe dippers. Those who will gradually…over time get out into the deep. Being more cautious, they keep working the day job as this new venture gets started. It may take longer, but they figure this is better….to gradually increase revenue until they replace what they have, plus some…then make the jump. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have done it both ways. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with either one. You must decide which works best for you and do that. Because we all know there are many things to consider in making the jump. Things like paying bills, maintaining your mortgage, caring for the family or keeping your healthcare insurance. But we also know that sometimes…simply out of necessity….things just happen and we are forced to burn those ships and move on. So let me talk to waders first.
Time is on your side in the vast majority of cases. But you must be an expert in time management to make sure you turn this dream into a reality. So as Bernie Mac would say, “let me break it down like a fraction for you”. The first question you may want to ask yourself is pretty simple….how much time can I put toward my dream each week? Well, let’s look at the math. So often people think, there simply isn’t enough time out there for me to make this work. But I say…oh no….you are wrong. Even if you are working a 40 hour a week job…plus all the other responsibilities, you still have time. HOW???? Let’s begin at the top…there are 168 hours in a week…so subtract the 40 hours for your day job. Now we’re left with 128….and that sounds like and IS a lot of time left. But….we also need to sleep. And if you like sleeping (and I highly recommend it), we can deduct 56 hours for this. Now we’re down to 72, but that is still a lot of hours. And we all know there needs to be time for eating, exercise, family, church, errands and other essentials….so we’ll give this a total of 42 hours. Well guess what….if you manage your time and balance that schedule there are still a whopping 30 hours left. Yep….30 hours in the week, with all you’ve done to still invest in that dream of owning your own business. Now…unless you fill the 30 hours with bingeing on Netflix, ESPN or Disney Plus…..there is ample time to work on that next great American business idea.
So whether you burned the ships or waded into the water…..you must get people to the door…..you have to have customers and clients. You have to MOA! You have to make others aware of what you’re doing or going to do. So……share the dream with friends, family and strangers you meet in the elevator. Yep….come up with your elevator speech….you know that 10 to 15 second speech that gives others a crystal clear picture of what you do. Now it may change a few times as you tell your story….but remember…you’ve got this at least 80% down….so go…try it out on a few people….see how they respond, then make the necessary changes as needed. And remember, this is your dream….this is that thing burning in your soul….it’s your baby and you can’t wait to share it with others. Why? Because what you have to offer….they need it….they can’t live without it….they just don’t know that yet. But as you tell your story….that story deep down in your heart….they too will see and feel the excitement. And as we all know….excitement is contagious. It can begin to build your customer base with eager fans ready to buy your products and services. It’s also an accountability partner. How’s that??? Well….once you begin telling your story…offering your products and services….getting others on board…..you have to deliver. Now again, will it be perfect? Probably not. There may be a few bugs here and there. Remember, you’re at the point where it’s time to launch….that 80% and go. And….if you do wait for perfection…this business will never get off the ground. So…if there is a bug here or there….just be honest with your customer…look them in the eye and admit it….then make it right. Don’t take their money, then run and hide if something needs fixing. I can promise you this……you treat your customers with honesty and respect….they’ll be back….and bring friends with them.
Now, unlike even 20 years ago, you have one of the greatest COST FREE advantages afforded to any business owner today….two words……Social Media. Now, through companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TicTok, Pinterest, Linkedin…and more, all you need is an account (which you sign up for free) and begin getting you message out! And guess what….that smart phone…it’s better than the portable TV Studio Doc Brown talks about in Back to the Future. You are able to make announcements….post events….show off products (and happy clients), record testimonials and even go live. With apps out there today, you can shot video, then edit with music (be careful about copyrights), dub in audio and post to all these sites. AGAIN….it doesn’t have to be perfect. In face it really is ok to show the blooper reel a few times. People really love the honest…authentic you.
Then there are things like a countdown clock for the opening….doing some type of soft opening or even a launch party (wouldn’t that be fun)! Just think about it….invite friends and family (maybe even a stranger or two from the elevator)….throw in some wings and a few give-a-ways, and post the party pics and vids on Social Media. Now you’re up and running…..that dream….that idea is now birthed… and out in the deep water. You got to that 80% and off you went! Now… all you have to do is sit back and count the money…..right??????? Well…..maybe…..maybe not.
Wait…..what???? You’re gonna end the podcast on a downer???? No…not really. But like I said, we do want to be real and authentic about what to expect. So, just a few things as we bring our class to a close today. My business…..your business…..no matter whose business….it will always be a work in progress….for the most part it may always be 80% and go. But that’s absolutely ok. The great Vince Lombardy, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers….the man who’s name graces the Super Bowl Trophy once said this…..”We will chase perfection…and in the process catch excellence”. And excellence is what we will strive for…why? Because perfection cannot be attained. There will be ups and downs. In some cases that dream will take twice as long and cost twice as much to get off the ground. There will be setbacks and failures. And that’s ok……these are learning tools for the future. When success comes….celebrate. When people praise you…..take a minute to drink it in. When customers complain… be quick to listen and slow to speak.
You’ve waiting a long time….maybe most of your life to get to this point. Don’t let the fear of failure or perfection keep you in the starting blocks. You’re there….you’re close…so close you can taste it. So take that 80% and go!!! With all the hopes….dreams…..and enthusiasm you can muster. Let the world know……..and enjoy the ride.
Class is dismissed…so you can go and say…..Open For Business!!