My wife and I had several business ideas long before we started them. We spent a lot of time thinking about them, double thinking about them, and then triple thinking about them. Before we started anything, we bought a bunch of small business planning books and hemmed and hawed for a while. But it wasn’t until we printed our first few t-shirts that we got the business rolling.
There are a ton of steps in getting your business up and running, and that can be overwhelming. But rather than getting wrapped up in information overload, you must make progress today. That is non-negotiable.
We’ll go through many of the steps we had to navigate to get our businesses where they are today. You will learn to move beyond the “how-tos” and make moves to get the ball that is your business, rolling.
Planning is Great, Over-Planning is Not.
In 2015 my wife and I wanted to start an apparel retail business. We got the idea three years prior whilst visiting Michigan. For three years we sat on the idea of this business before seriously considering getting it up and running.
Those years were spent thinking about what we could do, what to call it, how to market it, how to perfect our brand, what social media to use, where to get funding, and so on. You could say that we had a solid case of “Information Overload“.
That’s all we did – we just thought about it. It’s important to think about all of these things, but it’s more important to avoid analysis paralysis.
Moving Beyond “Information Overload”
We decided we couldn’t just sit on this idea any longer. We started getting overwhelmed with all the information telling us what what we should do. Really, it was distracted us from even making that first move.
Once we printed out those prototypes (aka, got started), we began to realize what needed to be done. We had bank accounts to open, copyright lawyers to talk to, tax numbers to apply for, a business name to register, a website to build, and on and on.
Here’s a little breakdown of how it went. Once we had the prototypes made, we:
- Thought up a business name and registered it as an LLC with Minnesota’s Secretary of State website.
- Realized we needed to pay taxes, so we registered for state and federal tax numbers.
- Once we got that info, we could open a business checking account at our bank.
- Once we had that, we could get funding and put it in the bank.
- Then we could order more product.
- Ship it to vendors.
- Evaluate selling taxable and non-taxable goods
The point is: you might feel overwhelmed at the beginning, but you will encounter all those “things you need to do” in due time. They will make themselves known when it is time to know about them. And any mistakes you make just chalk up to a learning experience.
Hitting a Bump in The Road
After about a year we got hit with two cease and desist letters from different businesses. First one was over our business name, Driftless Design LLC. The second was from Gerber about using the term “onesie” in our online listings. We were in the wrong in both, so we complied with the orders.
We chalk it up to lessons learned. The feeling you get when you open a letter from someone else’s attorney is like nothing you’ve read in a book before. You need to experience it to truly appreciate it. Once we did, we made the necessary changes and moved on with life and our business.
Taking Steps of Action
After all of the planning, the considerations, the books, the activities… it started when Hayley surprised me on Christmas with two prototypes of the shirts we wanted to sell.
That was the springboard for every other action we took. Our whole business just needed one of us to say, “Okay, we’re going to try this. It might not be perfect but it’ll get the ball rolling.”
And it did! We talked about the shirts, the material they’re made out of, the graphic, the sizing, all kinds of things. That naturally led us to talking to our screen printer and asking for another prototype, and then more colors, more options. Before we knew it, we had multiple colors in all sizes, baby wear, kid sizes, and hoodie sweatshirts.
You might get your ass kicked but nothing really gets done until you get something done.
Once you start the process, you naturally see the direction you need to proceed in. Transcending “information overload” is often the first step. Maybe you make a mistake, but that mistake reveals itself and you can adjust. Until you get to that point, everything is theoretical, just like reading about any skill. You can read all you want about building a house, but it isn’t until you get the foundation poured that you realize part of the process of building a house is rolling with the punches. The only way to get anything done is to get something done.
What Do You Need to Get Started Today?
The easiest thing for me to say here is to get off your duff and get to work, but that’s not always helpful.
For us, personally, we needed to create a prototype of what we wanted to sell. It was pretty inexpensive for us to get started with apparel.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Build a prototype yourself
- Buy the equipment to build it yourself
- Hire someone to build it for you
- Brainstorm a name and run it past respected peers
- If you have a name, register it with your state/province today
- Start putting money aside for when you eventually open a proper business account
- Start calling property owners and touring possible places to rent
- If you offer services, do them everyday: write, take pictures, build a website, learn to code, console someone.
Notice I’m not telling you to buy any books. I’m telling you to take a tiny step in the right direction by doing something physical. Take action. Don’t worry so much about the steps ahead, but simply taking that first step.
Where To Now?
Now that our businesses are up and running, we’re at some level of homeostasis. We always have opportunities and problems to negotiate, but at least we’re making money now.
We’re moving forward every single day.
The planning stages of a business are long behind us, and for that we’re eternally grateful. It’s like finally getting out of school so you can get busy and get to work building your own legacy instead of reading about someone else’s.
So do yourself a favor and stop reading about our attempt at building a legacy and go start your own.
Feeling overwhelmed by information overload? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!