In the last post we talked about a problem for entrepreneurs: namely, having to battle your own fears about starting your business, and having to deal with your friends’ and family’s doubts as well. So now let’s talk about an important and positive step you can take to counterract all that negative energy, and generate terrific ideas for your business at the same time.
You’re going to start small, I’m thinking: your new business is not likely to kick off with $10 or $20 million in funding. (If I’m wrong, please write and let me know so that we can profile you!) For most women entrepreneurs, the early days of a new business are filled with incremental steps to make the business real and build a client base. So you won’t need, right off the bat, a formal Board of Directors unless you want one. But I urge you to put a board in place regardless – a Sounding Board.
Who’s on your board? Those friends (male and female) who really get you, who know what makes you tick and where your blindspots lie. Business advisors who trust you and vice versa. Smart, creative people in your sphere who won’t shy from suggesting an idea just because it’s crazy or random. Put these people together – physically, at least at first – in a fun setting where you can kick back and dig into how this new business will work. That setting might be your patio or the best Mexican restaurant in town. Make it fun, but keep the focus on your enterprise: that’s what the Sounding Board is for.
If your brain works in Powerpoint mode, you can bring a formal presentation and run it through for your Sounding Board. Otherwise, just be prepared to take your advisors through your planning process: who your customers will be, how your products will work, pricing, marketing and operations. Obstacles and challenges, competition and opportunity. Spare no details, because these aren’t people you’re trying to impress. This is the inner circle – the more they know, the more they can help.
I’ll be surprised if your first Sounding Board meeting doesn’t generate at least a half-dozen powerful ideas that you wouldn’t have found on your own. Isolation is a big problem for new entrepreneurs, and intellectual isolation – the shortage of ideas developed by people other than you, I mean – may be the cruelest form of it. So establish your brain trust – get your supporters together to put heart and soul into making your business fly. Let us know how it goes!