Of pilots and birds

The twisted roads and railways game of snakes and ladders maps play.

Instinct

When chartering a new course involving a certain starting point right through to a final destination, planning is most definitely involved. Decisions involving routes ensue and once the path is mapped out commitment to the plan is essential to reach the desired venue. Discussions involving the best route, the safest route, the most traveled, the least traveled, the scenic route or for the truly adventurous: the route you pioneer that others will follow or not. But here one must decide and be quite specific about it too for fear of paths leading off cliffs, which only in dreams seem a positive thing symbolizing challenge and change, will indeed bring about your swift demise in reality. A birds-eye view of maps is often confusing to the untrained eye, one can get lost in the twisted roads and railways game of snakes and ladders it plays. Birds and pilots flying high in the sky, the two certainly meet on this point: they both know their territory well, in fact, it is a matter of survival that they do. To prevent a collision course in the skies strict protocol must be adhered to as far as airplanes and pilots go at least, for birds this is a matter of instinct. In business, this is also true.

In business, we seek to marry the two: Instinct and plans with specific outcomes. Instinct, however, is based on experience. It’s a conglomerate of thoughts and actions amassed over time, having been put through a test of sifting and sorting for the right fit to the right situation. Master of the skies birds fly across various spaces scanning and collecting ‘mapping data’, storing to memory places they would return to again and again. We must become masters at business, masters of trade to develop an instinct or in other words, a ‘knowing’. Instinct is really ‘a trained knowing’; a gut feeling we’ve come to trust because of our shared experiences. Why is instinct important? Because it’s not possible to know all the answers all the time. There will be times when you have done all that you can do; still, you and your team are struggling to come to an agreement of what to do next. Or when someone tells you: “No, I don’t think you should do it that way”. But you feel it is the right thing for you to do right now. This is when you must consider your gut.

How can we develop instinct in our business:

  • Observe others in the business
  • Become a master/expert of your chosen field
  • Apply yourself to studying and learning from influential books and people
  • Question the process and come up with possible scenarios for success or failure
  • Ask for advice
  • Take calculated risks
"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" Albert Einstein

Specific outcomes

Speaks of thorough planning. Dealing with a more technical approach to going about decision making. A sitting or standing action of good old fashioned writing down dreams, goals, plans; and a detailed account of how you will achieve them.

Strategically, intentionally forging ahead with well reasoned, well-researched information that will help you achieve the success you desire. There is a treasure trove of resources one can investigate and utilize to assist in this regard. One of the most debilitating of all afflictions in business is laziness. One cannot stress enough the importance of doing due diligence and to actively seek to dispel all that threatens to fly in the face of this within our business. Your business is a reflection of you, if you want to look good do good.

How can we plan better:

  • Be disciplined
  • Steer clear of distractions
  • Set a schedule by which you do things and stick to it
  • Reward yourself for tasks to stay motivated
  • Keep a journal
  • Be accountable to a colleague, friend or spouse, allow them to help you through your journey
  • Stick it up on the wall, let it be visual. Perhaps turn it into an artwork and frame it in your office space.
  • Don’t let your emotions overrule logic

Map out a business strategy. Make sense of the “snakes and ladders” and become a master of the territory. How can we do this, to be frank:

  1. Choose a business you want to start
  2. Write out a Business Plan
  3. Execute that plan
"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else" Yogi Berra

Yes, it is that simple.

Here is an article about how to go about writing a business plan and why it is important to have one: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247574

What is in your hand?

A good place to start: What are the talents and skills I posses to help me
get started.

Dear Diary

What can I do? What am I good at. I have decided to make a list of things I enjoy doing, things I am naturally good at…

  • Sitting at a restaurant drinking coffee (this should be a real talent, it’s practiced so often)
  • Encouraging people to go after their dreams
  • Critical thinker
  • Creative thinker
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Cooking and Baking

These are just a few things off the top of my head Diary. I think it’s a great place to start and really stop for a while and spend some time here. I have asked myself if I would do these things without the need for pep talking from myself or others. That I can be trusted to commit to the desire to perform these tasks. A subliminal outworking of something held dear. Surely if I already enjoy doing something and inadvertently do so without payment, then why not try to monetize this ability? Because I am already somewhat committed at inception and therefore less likely to give up on something I am very fond of. This makes sense to me Diary!

This means that what is in my hand is my current ability. A natural gift, education acquired or learned experience. When we break it down like this I feel less overwhelmed, less focused on the enormous picture ahead of me but see steps that are more manageable to try.

So how will I do this, how will I monetize my skills?

I love to cook and bake, this drives my thinking toward opening my own Restaurant or Coffee Shop. However, this is ridiculously expensive for me. I have no capital for this. Now it seems I have a problem Diary before my dream has taken off, it’s crashed and burned. Let’s think a bit deeper. Is it possible that a dream can evolve before it comes true before you make it true? What if we consider goals or steps to get to opening a Coffee Shop eventually. What do I have in my hand right now? Well, I love to write, cook and bake as mentioned. So how can I monetize this in the short term and get to my long term goal of opening my Coffee shop? I can start a Food Blog! Become a Food Writer. This is truly exciting Diary!! But, how will I monetize this?

What are some of the ways in which I can do this?

  • I can come up with creative ways to present food via a blog
  • I can blog about associated food products online and create an online store for people to purchase products
  • I can create my own products and sell them online
  • I can earn commissions off of brand referrals and ad links
  • I can come up with creative ways to build a following and get paid to promote other establishments or products, become an influencer in the food industry

This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for me Diary! And it seems it can be done with far less capital than what’s needed for a well-positioned start-up restaurant. But what about my dream of having a real live Coffee Shop? What will I need for that?

I would need to compare the two ideas and look at affordability and profitability.

Let’s look at what I can do for opening a Restaurant. First, I would have to look at market conditions:

  • How saturated is the market? How many Coffee Shops exist in your current chosen area for business?
  • How competitive is this environment, what services and products do they offer?
  • How will you be unique?
  • How many shops have opened and closed in the area and why?
  • What possible gaps are there in this market to gain entry or foothold?
  • Is there a revolutionary product or service I can contribute to capture Market Share?
  • What are the costs upfront: Number of skilled staff, Size of premises and Rent, Equipment, Product and stock, Positioning when entering the market and level of competitiveness (relative to an outlay of funds), Shop-fitment, Location, Certifications, and permits. (to name a few)
  • What are some of the hidden costs: Marketing fees, Insurance, Maintenance, Legal Fees, Embellishments to facade e.g. special fitments and fixtures, paintings or pictures, etc. (to name a few)
  • Rapidly changing trends, how to evolve in an ever-changing market?
  • The future of restaurants as fixed locations.

Wow, this sounds like a mouthful Diary, and frankly quite overwhelming to say the least. It seems like just having a dream is not that simple. Plus, how do I know that it will serve a real purpose in the community? Does it have relevance? Is it something that is needed or even wanted? Sometimes we have a dream to start a business and we present it to the world as if to say: “here, this is my dream, I hope you love it too”. But then we find that people don’t relate to it, can’t identify with it right now or ever and therefore reject it. This hurts but perhaps it is best to ask people what they want. To observe what they are drawn to. This is surely a huge return on investment like no other. I think a business should strive to meet its customers halfway and try to work out a relatable compromise.

So Diary, I see now that I have to put my dreams to the test. To see if they are:

  • Versatile
  • Relatable
  • Able to evolve
  • Resilient
  • Competent in reality
  • Serving needs of others

A personal testament:

A few years ago I discovered that I had reactions to eating foods containing gluten. I decided to adopt a gluten-free diet as a result. Upon doing this I also discovered that the type of gluten-free food available in the market was of very low quality and not very appetizing at all. This lead me to start my own gluten-free brand called “The Gluten-Free Gastronome”. I had developed my own gluten-free flour and sold it to bakeries and private individuals for home use. I quickly began to see there was a real need to educate people on how to bake with gluten-free flours, as there was such confusion around that which clearly led to poor results. This has been a fun learning exercise for me and one example of seeing a need in the community and then coming up with creative ways to meet the need. Here is the website: https://thegastronome.co.za/

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

So many questions

Asking yourself valid questions about your new found venture and then seeking the answers.

Dear Diary

Since I’m feeling this way, I’m going to do something about it instead of complain about how I loathe going to work every day to do the same thing over and over. I think the responsible thing to do is to leave and let someone else who really wants the job to get the opportunity to be employed and make a real difference here. I want to make a difference by doing something else.

I have been feeling guilty about this Diary because I’m supposed to be “gainfully employed” right? How will I pay my bills? So may reports say that business start-ups fail within the first 5 years. I’m worried about this Diary. What if I fail?

I read up on some stats exploring the reasons why some people start businesses and why those businesses fail:

https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/03/startup-statistics-small-business.html

https://www.failory.com/blog/startup-failure-rate

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericwagner/2013/09/12/five-reasons-8-out-of-10-businesses-fail/#3d2531046978

What if I succeed? I’m curious about this. I dream of being debt-free and traveling the world. I dream about starting other businesses and helping people. I dream of being financially free to do whatever I choose. These dreams drive me to risk the safety of my comfort. They say that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side Diary, but I figured..what if I water it there? What if I did some research about the environment, the soil, the weather patterns and what the most suitable type of grass would be for all these factors. What if I plant new grass there?

What drove other entrepreneurs before me? Why would they take the risk and not me? Do you need something special, or someone to tell you: “yes, you may go ahead now”. There are so many obstacles to this, why? So many conflicting thoughts and emotions. So much fear. Why Diary? Is it not just like any other occupation? Are there not skills one can learn to reduce the risk, a support system one can make use of? What if I don’t have enough money to start a business? What about my expenses? My family, my car, my home? How will I even get money for equipment for my business? Who will give me this money? These are the new questions I now have Diary. I’m not always sure about the answers, perhaps I have a lot of work to do. For as much as starting a business starts in the heart with a feeling to do more, travels to the brain to reason through the logistics of it all, it has to eventually progress into a plan of action for the body to do. This is not as easy as I had thought Diary. Perhaps I need a mentor, someone I can consult and help me with my questions.

So what are they saying to me Diary? That I should become familiar with failure? That I should even go as far as to study business failure? Is this a prerequisite to business success? So if I am supposed to become well versed in business failure, does this mean that I am actually learning about preventative measures, perhaps even resilience? So with this said Diary, my plan is to start with possible endings in mind. This also means I have to carefully pick my type of business. I see now how being swept up in my feelings of a new adventure can quickly end in failure if I am not careful. So then, how do I find the balance Diary? Between passion, which I need to drive me to do this great task and critical reasoning, which I also need to prevent possible failure through proper research and planning. It seems like I need a healthy balance of the two and knowing when the right skill is applicable. I clearly have a lot to learn Diary, but I am already intrigued by it all!

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Motivation and happiness

“I have decided to start my own business”. Exploring the feelings behind the motivation of these words.

Dear Diary

I have decided to start my own business. I feel I have the necessary skills to do this. I like working on my own and I can motivate myself because I know what I want in my life. More and more I feel that I’m using the people I work for. I say this because while my attention is on their work my heart is always set on other things, like ideas and future endeavors. Instead of thinking of saving my salary to invest in skills to make me better at my job I save it for things to buy for my own business ideas. Instead of thinking of ways to increase my employers’ presence in the marketplace I think of ways I can get ahead in a chosen market instead. Instead of encouraging my peers at work to be better at their jobs and to work through the bad times, especially those times you feel like quitting, I tell them to consider starting a business on the side instead. Is this wrong of me Diary?

I have an insatiable need for freedom and to free others who are like-minded in some way. To steer my own ship and to lead my crew through uncharted territory with success. More and more I feel like an impostor. I think I can do better, do more. I feel my heart egging me on to take the leap, but I’m not always sure I should, it’s like I’m waiting for permission. Why Diary?

I think society makes us feel that we are obligated to work for someone instead of exploring our unique talents and generating business out of that. The more I speak to people about going on my own the more they make me feel as though I’m a rebel trying to start a war and that I should repent or be doomed. So I’ve been trying to squeeze myself into a box for their sake. I feel trapped Diary. I feel like a zombie just aimlessly going through my routine of going to work and coming back home. I have no life outside of work because I’m always tired. I have headaches because I’m always thinking of ways to improve my circumstances at work. I’m depressed because I am not really happy about the work that I do. This is why I feel like an impostor because I go against what I feel for the sake of false comfort. For the sake of an hourly rate that is assigned to my worth by the company for the role I fulfill. Actually my job is very easy, I clock in at a certain time, I do what my job description entails, I take breaks and I make sure I have delivered my quota by the end of the day. I clock out and start again in the morning. By this standard, I’m not a very good employee Diary. I feel like I’m in a relationship with someone but secretly having an emotional affair with someone else. Is it right that someone pays for my time and I give them a half-hearted response? Is it right that I misrepresent them by wearing their uniform, the very face of professionalism, whilst plotting my escape? I don’t think it’s fair Diary, I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me in my business.

So then I must ask, is there a difference between an entrepreneur and an employee? Who decides who should become what and why? What would be the reason behind that decision? Because we all need each other right? Employees need entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs need employees. So, what does it take to become a happy, motivated entrepreneur? What does it take to become a happy, motivated employee? For me Diary, my work has to make me happy for me to be motivated. So are we saying that motivation at work comes through happiness in fulfilling work? These are the questions I have been asking myself.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.