Got a Minute?

Your Final Step

10. Commit to 30 Days of Action. It takes 30 days of consistent action to see measurable progress. You may think 300 minutes could hardly make an impact. But remember your physics lesson? Being in motion for 30 days straight generates momentum and creates a domino effect. One action produces a result thatleads to another and another. Before you know it, you've jumped three steps, or five or six, ahead of where you thought you'd be.

And uncanny things start to happen--people present themselves, opportunities show up, resources find you. Action triggers the unpredictable and unexpected. Don't be surprised when one small action propels you into a quantum leap.

Cohen used this 10-step system to reach his milestone. He secured a funky, beautifully decorated facility, fully equipped for rental, cartage, storage and tech services, and it's located in a prime spot. So he began to focus on his next milestone: having clients (including world-renowned musicians) come to him through word-of-mouth.

"My approach was 'if you build it, they will come.' I had the facility, trucks, computers, and equipment. I started calling anyone and everyone I could think of and invited them down to see it," Cohen says. "Those people started telling people, and the next thing I knew, I got a call from a competitor who was going out of business. He sent all his clients to me."

The power of the small step is that it can take you from getting started to running a full-fledged business.

Twelve years ago, Cohen began his guitar rental business as a solo operation from home. His annual sales were $50,000. Today, he has a 6,000-square-foot facility in North Hollywood, eight employees and projected 2006 sales of $750,000. His clients include some of the top names in music, including Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart.

Lon Cohen Studio Rentals was built one step at a time, with steady increases and milestone victories. And as with most businesses, the journey wasn't always easy. "There were countless times I wanted to quit," Cohen says. "I'd get overwhelmed by the chaos and frustrated by all the problems. I felt afraid as I stared at the figures and thought about the financial risk, stressed about how it was going to turn out. But I committed, took small steps and learned as I went along. I was determined to get through."

This is a case in point for how to get started. Know your end goal, take action, and keep going, no matter how bumpy the ride gets. It's also a testament to the spirit of every entrepreneur--commitment, perseverance and the courage to go after one's dream. "As I think back on it, I'm pretty amazed," says Cohen. "I was a guy who played guitar in a band and knew nothing about starting a business. But I did have a clear picture of what I wanted the business to look like, and I kept focusing on the freedom it would give me." Today, that strategy has paid off tenfold.

What to Do When You Want to Give Up
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that starting a business isn't always a smooth ride. Doors close. People object. Stuff happens. Here are some 10-minute actions you can take when you feel like throwing in the towel and walking away from your dream.

  • Calm Yourself Down. Breathe. Count to 10. Go for a walk. Do something that will take you out of your emotional reaction and give you perspective on your situation.
  • Read Your End Goal Statement. Remind yourself of what you're creating and why. This tends to jump-start your motivation because you've written it in the present tense, as if it were happening now.
  • Change Your Focus. Make a list of the positives. This could include what you have achieved, the contacts you have made or how much you have grown through the process thus far.
  • Look for the Opportunity. Ask yourself, "What is this situation trying to teach me?" Challenges can be the most valuable form of feedback. Any setback, glitch or crisis can be used as an opportunity to help you move forward.
  • Get Support. Hire a coach. Find a mentor. Consult an expert. Talk to an objective person (someone who believes in you) who can help evaluate the situation, answer your questions or guide you in finding the right solution.

Creative Ways to Find 10 Minutes
Your day is already scheduled with everything you should do and need to do. Making time for something you want without compromising other tasks can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some creative ways to find 10 minutes to start building the business you've always dreamed about.

  • Try to wake up 10 minutes early, and use the time as soon as you wake up.
  • If you take public transportation, use the time during your commute to work. If you drive, take 10 minutes in the parking lot before you head into the office.
  • Make time for your task while your computer is booting up.
  • Take 10 minutes during your lunch hour or afternoon coffee break.
  • Use any time you're on hold on the phone.
  • Use the time during the commercials of your favorite TV show.
  • When your kids are napping or after they go to bed, spend 10 minutes on a task.
  • Use the time while dinner is cooking.
  • Take 10-minute breaks from watching your kids in the evening--alternate child-care shifts with your spouse.

Cornelia M. Flannery is a personal coach, business consultant and author of Take 10! How to Achieve Your "Someday" Dreams in 10 Minutes a Day.

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This article was originally published in the September 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Got a Minute?.

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