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How to Master the Art of Getting Started

Slightly intimidated by your big business dream? Struggling to see how launching your own venture fits in with your current work and life commitments? It’s time to shrink your thinking with these four bitesize steps to getting started.

1. The learning and researching phase

Start by shifting your perspective. Rather than thinking, ‘I want to open a coffee shop’, shrink it down to ‘I’m going to think about researching a coffee shop’ and ‘I’m going to learn about launching a coffee shop.’ Breaking down that mountain into manageable molehills can make things feel a lot less daunting and help you get started quicker.

Acknowledging that this first phase of getting started is dedicated to learning and researching will not only remove any pressure you might feel to launch, but it ensures you’re entering entrepreneurship with your eyes open. By the time you come to write your business plan, you’ll feel informed and confident about the viability of your business venture.

In a nutshell: Step one is all about changing how you feel. No more talking about ‘launching’ and ‘building’ at this stage, it will only put you off getting started. Once you change your mindset towards a more educational phase, you’ll actually feel like you can get started today.

2. Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to learning

Spend 10-15 minutes a day doing one thing that helps you learn or research about the idea of launching your business. For example:

  • Read an article
  • Watch a video tutorial
  • Read an industry report
  • Read some case studies
  • Research networking groups for local businesses
  • Explore networking opportunities on LinkedIn
  • Look into associations set up to support small businesses / your industry
  • Research places to turn to for business advice
  • Look into online courses that will upskill you in running a business
  • Start having a look at who might be your competition – online / offline

The best part of this process? By sticking with it, you’ll start to feel some momentum building. You’ll be learning things that will lead you onto the next area you want to learn about, you’ll meet new people who are interested in what you’re looking to do, you’ll feel like you’re working towards your goals by making a little progress every day. Soon, momentum turns into the snowball effect and with it comes an increased sense of self assurance and confidence you can take forward with you into the next phase of starting your business.

In a nutshell: Little and often goes a long way!

3. Visualise the process of running your business, rather than the pretty endgame

Visualising your desired outcome is a well-known technique for pursuing life goals; however, according to a study by New York University, visualising a goal creates an emotion that’s similar to having already accomplished it, which may de-motivate you to actually do the hard work! Additional research suggests that repeating positive affirmations about yourself doesn’t boost self-esteem but in fact lowers it (for those who had below-average self-esteem to begin with).

So with these findings in mind, can the imagination really create changes in our physical reality? According to a UCLA study, it can – but by visualising the process of something, rather than the goal.

The UCLA study divided a large group of college students into two experimental groups – one was asked to visualise themselves walking up to a board where their grades on a final exam would be listed. They were asked to visualise an “A” grade by their name, repeating this procedure several times in the weeks leading up to the exam. The other group was asked to create a different mental simulation. They were asked to imagine the process of studying for the exam. They were told to imagine going to their dorm room, closing the door, and turning off distractions. Then, they were asked to imagine themselves putting in the time to study for the exam. And guess what? It was the group that visualised the process of studying, rather than visualising the outcome of the goal that performed best in the real-life exam.

The researchers concluded that the mind becomes primed to follow through on the things we visualise. Like a footballer practising scoring a goal, we can mentally rehearse our future behaviours. Visualising an action leads to following through on that action. And it’s our actions that get results.

In a nutshell: Visualise the reality of starting and running your own business. Think about action over the endgame.

4. Refresh your morning routine

If you feel you’re lacking the confidence or self-motivation to get started, you’ll be surprised how small changes to your morning routine can impact your inner drive to take action.

Step forward Mel Robbins – a motivational speaker, lawyer, TV host, and author known for her TEDx talk, ‘How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over’, and her books, The 5 Second Rule and The High 5 Habit.

The 5-Second Rule: If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal or commitment, use this Rule.

The High 5 Morning (including the High 5 Habit)

Robbins’ six steps that can set you up for the day by putting yourself first:

1. Get up when your alarm rings. No snoozing allowed! It has been medically proven that when you hit the snooze button and doze back off to sleep, you put your brain back into a state of sleep inertia. This impacts your ability to focus, be positive and process information, for up to four hours-! (Robbins also recommends plugging your phone in outside of your bedroom. Leave your ringer on but turn off notifications, so people can contact you in an emergency.) In the morning when your alarm goes off, turn it off but don’t pick up your phone! The first 10-30 minutes of your day are for you. Open up your notebook (see Step 6). If you have kids, Robbins recommends waking up earlier so you have quiet time just for you. If you don’t have a morning routine, your entire day will get hijacked. You’ll wake up feeling behind and stressed.

2. Try a self-love affirmation. To decrease everyday stress and increase overall self-love, Robbins suggests placing your hands over your heart and repeating “I’m OK, I’m safe, I’m loved.” She explains that by reciting that affirmation, you centre yourself, relax the body, and increase confidence. The physical act of putting your hands over your heart may sound cheesy, but a Polish study discovered that the hand-over-heart gesture can help promote better judgements and behaviour.  (While affirmations might not work for some, it’s worth trying to see if it works for you!)

3. Make your bed. “Making your bed every morning is another way to strengthen the muscle of discipline and commitment to yourself,” Robbins claims. Some research shows that it improves your mood and increases productivity.

4. High-five your reflection. Give yourself a high-five in the mirror every day. In Robbins’ book, she refers to a body of research called Neurobics, conducted by Dr. Lawrence Katz, a neurobiologist, and researcher at Duke University. “In a neurobic exercise, you combine a routine activity, like looking at yourself in the mirror every morning, and you pair it with two things: something unexpected that involves your senses and an emotion that you’d like to feel, like celebration or being seen”. When you high-five yourself in the mirror (an act you don’t normally do), the mind connects it with positive associations like “Great job,” and “You’ve got this,” because of interactions you’ve had with the action and other people since you were a child. Robbins claims that adding the “High 5 Habit” to your morning routine will not only transform your relationship with yourself but also cultivate self-confidence, motivation, and happiness.

5. Put your workout clothes on. We all know how exercise can impact your health, mood, energy and productivity. This step can encourage you to exercise (even if it’s a short walk – whatever you have time for) or if you have to put on work clothes first thing, pack a gym bag with your clothes ready to go – this could encourage you to fit some exercise into your day.

6. Journal. Robbins encourages “dreaming in the morning” to shift your dreams from the subconscious to the conscious and put them at the front of your mind where they can “act like a searchlight” to help you manifest your happiest life and also gain awareness of what you need.

As mentioned in step one, for the first 10-30 minutes after you wake up, grab your journal and write down exactly what you’re feeling, which will allow you to be present and process emotions (both good and bad). Then, jot down five things you want (it can be anything, from finding love to exploring the world). By writing your dreams down, you’re validating them. “A critical part of living a High 5 Life is giving yourself permission to dream big and to want what seems impossible,” Robbins explains.

In a nutshell: Give a routine refresh a try! While some of the above steps might not sound like your cup of tea, if you’re serious about starting a business and want to develop a more positive, deliberate, and healthy mindset, it’s worth trying them out – the results could surprise you.

As you can probably guess from the above points, getting started is very much about breaking things down into bite size pieces that fit into your lifestyle, making the unconquerable feel conquerable. The steps above acknowledge that most entrepreneurs simply don’t have the capacity each day to tackle that mountain due to full-time jobs, parenting and many other day-to-day commitments. This ‘little and often’ approach to getting started will help you make small steps every day towards what you want to do – whether it’s owning your own business or starting a side business.

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Jenny Lambert

Jenny Lambert is a freelance writer, interiors blogger and Etsy shop owner with extensive experience working in marketing, digital and publishing roles.

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