10 Steps to Starting Your Business—in 1 Step

The NYC Small Business Services regularly offers a class called “10 Steps to Starting Your Business.” (If you’re interested, find upcoming sessions on Eventbrite!) I attended the class long after we started Sunbird—not to learn how to launch a business, but to be able to empathize with clients new to business. We like to stay in tune with the process entrepreneurs are walking through to bring their businesses to life.

During the class, the facilitator went through ten steps and a hundred Powerpoint slides. But the central message rang loud and clear every minute of the two hour course: plan, plan, plan some more, and then don’t stop planning. Plan for your business structure. Plan for the permits, insurance, and funding. Plan for the right marketing channels to find the clients that just might be looking for your service or product. All ten steps could really be summarized in that one word: Plan!

I thought of the hundreds of entrepreneurs I’ve met since starting Sunbird Creative. Like me, they tend to be bursting with creative energy, with hope, and with a fierce underlying resilience. But only a tiny proportion embrace the beauty (and safety) of planning. It’s almost as though they are unwilling—subconsciously—to lower the risk and uncertainty of starting a business.

This realization made me wonder: Many entrepreneurs love excitement, independence, and innovation. Is the other side of the same coin the dismissal of the beauty of planning?

Halfway through the SBS course the facilitator said, “If you don’t plan, why do you expect your business to magically succeed?” He used traveling as a parallel . When you take a trip, he said, don’t you look up the sites you want to visit? You figure out which day to hit which sites, which mode of transportation to use, what restaurants to check out, how much you have to spend. Why won’t we extend the same courtesy to our precious businesses?

Fellow entrepreneurs, I invite you to join me in embracing the beauty of planning. Finish that business plan (but don’t waste time writing a long, formal plan unless you have to!), work on your content strategy, and plan your rest!  You need to rest as much as you need to hustle. And when you plan, hustling might not seem like such a grind.

The good news for the planning-averse? You’re not alone. There are plenty of folks, including Bianca and me, who have learned from our mistakes how to plan for a business’ long term success. Consultants and other entrepreneurs are all around, ready to help.

Still not convinced that planning is important? I dare you to meet with us and leave the meeting with your mind unchanged.