Guest writer Iolanthe Gabrie shares an extract from her business book, 100 Days of Brave: How to launch a business you love in three months, about the first steps to take if you want to start a business.
What can you do that fulfils a need? This question can be a real roadblock, and yet it must be answered to get the show on the road! Feeling a twinge of overwhelm, or a stab of imposter syndrome? Here’s why: the entrepreneurs we are often encouraged to idealise – the Bransons, Jobses and Zuckerbergs of the world – have businesses that are unique. We admire them from a distance, what with their fully realised brands, mission statements and original products.
Yet each of these entrepreneurs fulfils a very basic need. Branson gets people around. Jobs made work easier. Zuckerberg collects data for marketers.
When I began my social media agency Ruby Assembly, I had no brand, but I did have a skill: I’m a great communicator, and a gifted writer. I know that few people have this skill. Is my skill unique? No, there are other great communicators and writers out there. Does that mean I can’t make my business as a communicator a rip-roaring success? HELL NO!
First things first: you do not have to reinvent the wheel to have a business. You do not have to create a whizz-bang new piece of technology or a medical cure (although that would be awesome) to feel worthy of entrepreneurship. It’s a big world out there, and there’s room for everyone to have a crack and make a profit. That’s why people keep training to become electricians, hairdressers and accountants: as a society, we need their services. Do you have any preconceived notions around the word ‘startup’? Because you’re about to have one!
From my time in business incubators and coworking communities, ‘startup’ seems to be mysteriously applied only to technology concepts. I can’t say why – maybe it’s a macho Silicon Valley thing we’ve unconsciously adopted. A startup can be literally any business. From the kids’ lemonade stand next door to a bookkeeping service, a dog-walking business to an app development service: if it is young and having a crack, it’s a startup.
If you’re having trouble thinking of a specific skill you have, try reflecting on what makes you feel in flow. Warning: woo-woo incoming! But you’ve already bought the book: in for a penny, in for a pound. Being in flow means something different to everyone – to me it means a kind of ease born from confident calm. It feels like you’re in sync, like you’re not working against the tide. It’s when ideas come from the ether easily, and when work is deep without being stressful. Here are some examples of being in flow from my end, and the skill being used:
• When I’m in a meeting with clients and we’ve come up with an amazing, creative way to market their brand, I feel a deep, buzzing happiness. I’m totally comfortable, excited and elated in that space. Skills used: imagination, creativity and problem-solving.
• When I’m engaged as a speaker, sharing my story to an obviously receptive and happy audience, I feel in the right place, with useful information to share. Skills used: public speaking, clear expression and storytelling.
• When I’m writing a really juicy blog post that blows stereotypes about women and money out of the water, I feel like really robust ideas are coming to me easily. Skills used: imagination, creativity and written communication.
Iolanthe Gabrie is the Director of Melbourne-based social media agency Ruby Assembly and author of 100 Days of Brave: How to launch a business you love in three months. A senior communications strategist and business mentor, Iolanthe shares her passion and expertise about how to start a business via Serious Women’s Business, a 500-strong networking group based in Melbourne, and on her podcast Sell Less. Mean More.
For more information on how to start a business, check out Capsule’s Thrive section about small businesses