Souky Souky

Step Two: Brainstorming

Starting a BusinessEllen Dittmar

As we established here, starting a business is simple. But figuring out what that business is and how to make it happen can be downright over-freaking-whelming. And just in case you missed the memo, I am not a business expert...far from it.  So, please, PLEASE take all of this advice with a grain of salt. But for me, in order to feel ready to take REAL, ACTUAL, TANGIBLE steps, like filing for a business license and meeting with a lawyer, I needed to take some time to just imagine and dream and think. I needed to brainstorm. 

I am guessing brainstorming looks very different for different people. For me, It consisted of getting a notebook, some colorful pens and jotting down ALL of my ideas. My ideas ranged from the type of business I wanted to start, to the location of said business, to business names to products I dreamed of selling. If I thought about it as even a remote possibility...I put it down in my notebook. Now, most of those ideas have and will never seen the light of day, but there is something about allowing them to be voiced that helped me clarify what exactly I wanted to create.

For years now, I knew I wanted to do something within the home decor sector but I was never sure exactly what. Did I want to open an interior decorating company? Did I want to be in retail? Did I want to open a brick and mortar store or exclusively offer goods/services online? And while I did not immediately know the answer to any of these questions, putting them down on paper allowed me to consider them more thoughtfully.

It would be wrong of me to act like this brainstorming session happened in one afternoon while sipping Rosé in my garden and harvesting heirloom tomatoes. It did not. My brainstorming session was more like a 3-month long wrestling match between Randy Macho Man Savage and Rick Flair. Mostly it was a battle between the part of my brain that says, "Ahhh...go for it! What have you got to lose?" and the part of my brain that responds, "Everything. That's what.". Hence, my need to simultaneously feed that part of my brain a steady diet of inspirational messages

Which brings me to a cautionary tale. When brainstorming, you must be careful to think, but not to overthink. It is possible to think an idea to death. Fact. And while thinking is necessary when starting a business, the more important aspect is the doing. If you stay stuck in the brainstorming phase too long, you will think yourself right back to your very safe, very boring desk job.

I believe the thing that got me out of the brainstorming loop was asking myself two essential questions. Firstly, I asked, "What is my purpose for starting this business?".

Such a simple, but powerful question. Having a purpose narrows your focus. Having a purpose creates an incentive.

My answer to this question was basically as follows: I want to share my love of travel and home decor in a way that will also better the lives of others.

I knew I wanted to build a business that had a positive social impact. I knew I wanted to share the beauty I have seen in my travels with others and in a way that they would also enjoy. I also knew I wanted to surround myself, daily, with things that make me happy. It was from this answer that I concluded that I would strive to build a retail shop that sold globally gathered home goods. I would make a sincere effort to source beautiful and ethically made home goods. Then, I would figure out a way to give back to communities in need. Boom. Purpose.

It goes without saying that if my answer to this question had been, "to make truckloads of money", Souky Souky would not have been born. Or, at the very least, it would have been vastly different.

The second question I asked, I directed specifically at the inner-fear-avoidance-quitter that resides deep inside me. I asked that little scaredy-cat, "Hey...so how would you feel if, in a year from now, you woke up to learn that someone else, maybe even someone you know, started your business instead of you?" My answer: heartbroken. I would be devastatingly heartbroken. Boom. Motivation.

So, go grab a notebook. Grab some pens. And start dreaming. Don't be precious about it. Just put pen to paper. Go.