Q: I'm a 23-year-old part-time college student. I also work full-time and have a family. I want to start my own business, but sometimes I get discouraged. I'm a dreamer, but as I've read in magazine articles, most entrepreneurs are dreamers. What steps should I take to keep my focus on starting my own business, and how can I stay motivated and not get discouraged?
A: You sound like a very hard-working young person-an excellent attribute for an entrepreneur! I agree that many entrepreneurs are dreamers; they have a vision or dream of what they want to create. Dreams allow us to break out of the confines of our everyday life and enter a world where all things are possible. However, we can't live in a dream world forever. At some point, we must pull ourselves back down to earth and put our dreams into a form that will make us real entrepreneurs.
Like any builder, you must first start with a vision of what you want. But the only way a vision or dream moves from your head to reality is via a plan. Just as a builder draws architectural renderings of the house he or she is envisioning, you, too, must have a plan in order to make your dream a reality.
Begin by writing out what your dream looks like to you. What kind of business do you dream about having? Who works with you or for you? What kinds of products or services do you sell? Why do people come to you and not your competition? Where is your business located? How do you feel working in your business?
As you write about your dream, think about the gap between your dream and reality. What needs to happen to make the dream come true? Decide what needs to be done, in what order and in what timeframe. Write all that down in the form of a checklist tied to timeframes.
Be realistic. Given your situation right now, you have a lot of roles and responsibilities. But keep to your timeline once you make it. As you check off each item on the list, consistent with your timeline, you'll become even more motivated to stay focused on your goals. Celebrate your successes and acknowledge your hard work in order to stay motivated. Continue to read information that's inspiring and encouraging to you, and be open to new ideas gleaned from your reading and contact with other entrepreneurs.
Finally, consider forming your own "Dream Team" of close advisors who can cheer you on and offer advice, and to whom you can be accountable for your progress. This can motivate you to stretch to even greater heights as you reach for the stars.
Sharon Keys Seal is a Baltimore-based business, career and personal coach. Her clients include entrepreneurs, business owners, managers and executive directors of nonprofits. She works to help her clients articulate and achieve their professional and personal goals, while enhancing their focus and improving their effectiveness and productivity. Sharon welcomes questions and comments from readers. You may visit her at www.CoachingConcepts.com.