Day 3 – An easy question

Natalie: “Should you start a business while traveling?”

This is not something I particularly want to do. I am happy to start my business from my home environment and take it on the road with me. Of course, I appreciate that the factors that are important for having a successful business while traveling are just the same as the ones that are required for any successful business:

  • A clear idea of what I want to do
  • Focus and discipline
  • Resources to do the things I don’t want to do or can’t do

The idea is clear enough to start:  I am a software consultant specializing in SharePoint. I do business implementation and change management. I want to ensure that SharePoint is a satisfying and productive experience for all users. This idea will continue to grow and develop as I learn more about the software itself and about the direction I want my business to go. But first a contract!

The big lesson I must learn in the next 15 months is how to maintain focus and discipline in the building of this business.  Each day I am identifying the A list of things to do and fulfilling that list.  Not without some difficulties, that’s for sure! It’s so easy to get side-tracked by emails.  And it sure would be handy to have a partner to do some cooking and laundry!

But I am improving on that score. I track as much as possible–my sleep patterns, my diet, my expenses, my exercise regime, my A, B and C list. Even though each day has some interruptions, distractions and those darned emails, I feel as if I am making progress toward focusing on the important stuff. It isn’t going to happen overnight. Discipline means just that–maintaining the focus and doing the right things over and over again, even when it gets boring.

Resources to do the things I can’t or won’t do is what I will acquire over time as I develop the relationships and the teams.  I need a good technical person to help me with my web presence. I need a social marketer to help me with my social networking. I need a Mastermind group (which is starting today!) to help keep me on track.  I need training resources to help develop the tools I will offer.  And that is just the start.

So no, I won’t start my business while traveling but I will surely be traveling in my business!

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Day 2 – A tough question

Natalie: “Are you cut out to be a Suitcase Entrepreneur?”  Or, in my words, am I cut out to be an entrepreneur?”

Well, this one is both easy and hard.  The answer is yes and no.  I have tried before and failed, more than once. And to be fair, I didn’t try very  hard. I always thought I could go it alone. I never wanted to build a team around me. I didn’t want to build the relationships.  In the Suitcase traveling rendition, I might be alone some of the time, much of the time, or in some cases, all of the time.  Yet, if the team is stormed, formed and normed, it will continue to function no matter where any of us is. And in this world of world-wide electronic communications, there is simply no excuse for managing within a team that is scattered far and wide. I must have heard some of those lessons from the past because I know that building relationships and having a team is a huge and important component for success.

The other big part of my failures was not knowing what to do.  Even though I learned lots of great things, great business ideas, great strategies, I wasn’t clear about the underlying basics. The marketing, the materials, the presentation, the freaking hard work, which of course, I always shied away from.  When I signed up for Bill’s course four years ago, I didn’t have an idea in mind. He says “it doesn’t matter, we’ll pull it out of you”. But still, a business idea has to be something you believe in and want to do.  Now, I have an idea and something I love to do.  And I’m good at it.  It may not be the award-winning millions of dollars idea but I’m leaving that to Bill and the universe. Pull out of me the ways to make my business a huge, million dollar success instead of just a great profitable success. This time I plan to learn the basics of the hard work that is entailed and plan for a seriously successful business.

And so, for now, yes, I am cut out to be an entrepreneur. And a year from now, I will truly know.

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Day 1 – A post in two parts

Friday night, feeling inspired about my business after a great yesterday with Bill Walsh, and a lovely day today with friends, Birgitte, and then for supper, Peter.  As well, caught two amazing documentaries, one about the Gateway Pipeline and the other, Salmon Conspiracy, both of which may have swayed my opinion on those issues.

I have had many thoughts over the last couple of days with respect to building a business that has a serious online presence. I have seen SharePoint based sites that offer truly great training and information about SharePoint but I think there is room for more.  I want to provide that in the niche I believe is empty right now.

A blog represents a very large commitment to be present regularly to creating commentary in a community. I have struggled with the notion of commentary from the beginning, and yet it is a hallmark of one who is successful and has something to contribute. I get caught up in the banality of so many messages I see every day. And yet, each one has something to offer. Why not mine? Each voice brings something different to the table received by a certain group of followers. If some can follow the stuff I consider banal, why not have my own audience follow my banal thoughts?

So rather than focus on banality, better to think about the commitment which is just as much of a challenge.  It is really about writing for the sake of writing and developing the habit. The thoughts, as learning and knowledge develop and progress, will turn themselves into the content. For the time begin, let’s develop the habit and not focus so much on the message.

Natalie, the Suitcase Entrepreneur, suggests 250 to 1000 words per blog. If this is the case, I am behind by about 50 or 60 words–not so much. I struggled at the outset of this missive because I couldn’t enter the challenge on her site.  So I feel slightly sidelined by the misdirection of my focus. On the other hand, my focus is easily diverted. Apparently, this time, to the extent that I can’t quite remember what inspiring thoughts I wanted to write down.

This is a great exercise and not the first time I have attempted it. The greatest accomplishment will be to write this many words every day. Let the blogging begin!

Sunday night

Natalie: “Write a post on why you started your blog, who you wanted to reach, what you wanted it to be all about. Then state why you joined this blog challenge and what you want to get out of it.”

Some of this will have been addressed above but to stick with the process, I begin.  I started this blog to make the commitment to writing something everyday.  I also like the concept of writing regularly about the process of starting a business and what it entails. Just the reflection, review and logging of daily thoughts, ideas, inspirations will put me ahead of my own game. I grappled with this one early on–several weeks ago I pondered just these notions. What does it mean to blog every day about a new business? Can I do it? Can I actually fulfill the commitment to myself? Can I make meaningful entries that will not  only track my thoughts and process but will be significant enough to be decent reading for future reference.

Who do I want to reach? That’s a good question because clearly part of the commitment is to write (somewhat) publicly in order to seal the commitment deal. And to write cogently enough to draw, or at least, not repel readers. So clearly the choice I am making right now, as I write in a private online journal, is that I am reaching no one for the time being. My audience, should I choose to select one, would initially be those who are supporting me in my journey to a successful and profitable enterprise.  Beyond that, the audience must by business progress, commitment and success, extend to the public–anyone who is interested enough to stop by and read, whether once or more often. Clearly, at that stage, I had better ensure the quality is good enough, inspiring enough, interestng enough to continue to draw readers.

For now this blog is about my own business development process. Ultimately, I want to publish information and thoughts about my SharePoint business, my approach, my expertise and any comments that require more air time than either Twitter or Facebook. I joined this blog at the recommendation of my new Mastermind colleague, Melanie, who is also doing it.  I plan to get into the habit of expressing myself, my thoughts, and elaborating on my processes daily.  I have learned that when I talk to people about my business, I appear to have some pretty good ideas. Problem is, it’s hard to get them all down. This is the forum for that!

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