Souky Souky

Step Six: Experiment

Starting a BusinessEllen Dittmar

Phew. You have a business plan. Or do you?

As you probably have realized, writing a business plan is no small feat. Chances are you are still smack dab in the middle of spelling out your vision, articulating your why and outlining your goals. That is okay. A business plan is not something to rush through or to just slap together. You need time to really reflect, think and research. It took me a solid 3 months to come up with anything remotely functional. And it is still a massive work in progress.

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But just because you do not yet have a complete business plan does not mean you have to stall all the momentum and progress you have made thus far. You can still take the next step: experiment. In fact, you probably need to experiment in order to properly finish your plan.  How else will you know what might work and what simply will not?  So as you are toiling away on your business plan, simultaneously start playing around with ideas. Start sourcing products or writing disclaimer policies for your website. Create a mock-up business card and fool around with logo designs. Take terrible pictures and insert them into your website just to see what it would look like with real products. Make an expense spreadsheet and start fiddling with numbers. Make some sample products and try and sell them to family members and friends. Ask those same people for honest feedback. Make an Instagram and Facebook account for your business (even if you don't make these public right away). Start brainstorming ideas for social media posts. Make flyers and newsletters. You get the point... right? Just play! Essentially, you are playing dress-up. Have fun! Dabble in this and that. Figure out what you like to do and what you absolutely hate. Figure out what you are good at and what you need support with. Get to know yourself in the role of a businesswoman (or man).

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Obviously, this dress-rehearsal will look different for everyone and every business. For me, I did basically all of the items listed above. I bought sample products. I executed very amateur level photo shoots. I made a million logos. I posted pretty religiously to social media accounts that no one even knew existed. I just experimented without the pressure of having to be profitable or meet customer demands. I think spending so much time in this phase of the process was a great way for me to build confidence and also test the waters before jumping into the scary official world of business ownership. It also gave me the chance to realize that I really loved doing this type of work. I weirdly even found that creating expense spreadsheets was sort of interesting to me. Sort of.

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While I'm sure plenty of people would advise would-be business owners to dive right in and get going on setting up your actual, REAL business, I don't think it hurts to let everything marinate for a bit. But just for a little bit. You don't want to get too comfortable in your pretend world of business ownership. At some point, you need to jump. At some point you need to stop pretending and make it official.