The journey from working full time to now running a business has been an eventful and not at all linear one. I have oscillated between trying to come up with something which is both original and marketable to a more conventional idea ('let's open a coffee shop!').
The journey can itself be deeply frustrating as it seems difficult to make and then stick to decisions. There is also the added challenge of making others aware of your aspirations and the worry that you are disappointing people by constantly changing your mind, possibly undermining the authenticity of your decision in the eyes of others.
Ultimately for me there was something internal that said I wanted to run my own business, and after encouraging so many in the past to take the leap of faith I knew it was time to put my money where my mouth is.
In this short blog I wanted to talk about how I finally made the decision and why it is so important to take action and avoid 'perfect getting in the way of good'.1. What am I good at and how can I get someone to pay for it?
So for those of you that know me well, my business model and portfolio will look very familiar. In early 2017 I discovered an amazing membership organisation called Junior Chamber International (JCI).
The organisation is made up of young people who contribute positively to their local community and want to develop their skills to help them do that more effectively. You also get to meet a lot of like minded people who encourage and support you towards your personal and local goals.
JCI has local chambers or hubs all over the UK and Ireland, and as the name would suggest, across the world. Through discovering this organisation I have had the opportunity to take part in team building, develop my facilitation skills, participate in learning exchanges, hone my public speaking skills in competitions and coach others.
I list all of these experiences quite deliberately because if you take a look at my website it mirrors quite well with what my business offers - I enjoy doing these things, they are valuable to my business and charity clients and they are prepared to pay for them.
In time Manabu will likely specialise in a particular field but for now I am quite happy offer a wide range of development opportunities to Teams and Individuals.
2. Test your assumptions
I don't know if it is just me but it seems that everyone has ideas about going it alone or starting a business. With people having a little more time and head space we could witness a very positive move towards others trying to position themselves in something which brings them greater satisfaction. If you are there at the moment it's important to try and test those assumptions about what could work, in a low-risk way, to give you a little encouragement.
Something that has been very helpful is to get out in to the business community with your idea, meet people and explain what it is you are trying to do. Yes, you might get some who say 'Yea, sounds good - Give me a shout when you get set up', but more likely you get advice like 'Interesting, but have you thought about positioning it this way or collaborating with this organisation?'. You end up going away with a new idea or thought process that had not occurred to you previously.
It costs absolutely nothing to tell someone your idea and get feedback. The worry you have about making yourself vulnerable is not important and there is a lot of goodwill out there for people who are itching to get started.
3. Surround yourself with 'critical' supporters
Whenever I made the decision to start my business I also made the decision to join BNI (I know how many abbreviations can this guy fit in to one blog!?). BNI stands for Business Networking International and in short it is a membership organisation that encourages participants to support each other through referrals and testimonials at their weekly meetings.
I appreciate that the price tag can be a little eye-watering for a new business, never mind the 7am starts 😭 but so far it has been really helpful for my fledgling enterprise. Through meeting other members they have encouraged me to go live with my website and develop my plans and presence on social media. They have also given me frank but valuable feedback on what the market is after and how this might match with my business offering.
I write about it here because the most important part of my experience so far has been the accountability that I have gained from engaging meaningfully with networks that will hold me to my goals and objectives.
In summary then you will find that if you are determined and enthusiastic about working for yourself then there are many ways you can make it work. The work that I am doing at the moment is creative and enjoyable, it is a long and challenging road but if you are focussed on something that you can do well and brings you joy then it makes it a whole lot easier.