I don’t know if you remember our coaching call last year? Well, I’ve finally given myself permission to give the business a proper go. Until now, it has just been a hobby. I’m terrified, but I’m going to go for it.
I think I’ve read most of your blog posts but let me know if there’s one I’ve missed that answers this question. I just wondered if you could give me (or everyone, as a blog post) a bit more of an in depth insight into how you got Puttylike started, and got your first however many readers etc.? What I’m interested in is how you felt, how seriously you approached it, how much time you spent on it, what you prioritized, how you treated it etc.? So less the actual things you did (like guest posting), and more your approach or attitude towards it? And how you dealt with the response you got?
Seeing you do what you do kind of makes me believe that I could do something similar because we must be similar ages, and you’re so ‘real’ and approachable. So I hope you don’t mind that I’m asking for your advice.
That’s so exciting! I definitely remember our session and I’m so glad to hear that you’re moving forward with your project. I think it has a lot of potential.
What a great question. There’s so much fear and uncertainty involved in starting a business, that the right mindset really makes the difference between taking action and getting stuck.
When I launched Puttylike, I was living in Denmark, finishing up my last semester of law school. I had a few things going for me:
- I had a looming deadline in the form of graduation and a frantic desire to NOT become a lawyer
- I had a compelling vision of how I wanted my life to look
- I had zero social life
I was miserable living abroad. I had very few friends in the area, didn’t speak the language, and was staying in a dorm building full of 20 year old kids who just wanted to party (I was 26 at the time, and way over that). But instead of getting depressed about it, my response was to isolate myself in my room and build build build. I became obsessed.
Tony Robbins says that to change your life you need either desperation or inspiration. Anything short of either, and you will be too comfortable to make the change. I used both forces to fuel my action.
One way to get in touch with your “inner desperation” is to ask yourself where you will be 5-10 years from now if you don’t do this now. Use that as fuel for action and BRING IT.
I made a radical mental shift back then too. I decided that working an unfulfilling job was unacceptable to me. I *would* make this work. There was no alternative. I would rather move in with my mom, and do freelance web design for a while than settle on a career I didn’t love (I actually did move back home for 5 months, while growing my business and preparing for my move to Portland).
I was incredibly excited about the prospect of working for myself, of working from anywhere, of sharing a message that mattered so deeply to me and of helping people. I got butterflies in my stomach when I thought of a life that involved doing many things, playing in multiple media, exploring constantly.
And I kept this excitement alive with daily inspiration. I can’t stress how important this is. Every single day began with an interview on Mixergy or BlogcastFM. Hearing about how others built their businesses, where they started, their early failures, how they overcame. It made all the difference. I also visualized daily and posted reminders on my wall.
As Puttylike grew, I started meeting other people who were doing similar things. I made great friends and we supported each other, retweeted each others’ blog posts, commented on each others’ sites, brainstormed on Skype. If only I’d had a space like the Puttytribe when I was starting out. I can only imagine how much easier it would have been if there were regular huddles for me to jump in on.
As you may have already guessed, I took Puttylike incredibly seriously from day one. There were some days when I put in 10 hours, and I loved it. I don’t think you need to put in that kind of time, especially if you’re building your business on the side (and have a social life). Do what you can with the hours you have, but treat it seriously. It is your work.
I also thought a lot about which actions had the greatest impact and tried to use the 80/20 principle as much as possible.
Now in terms of the responses I got, here is the post I launched the site with. It’s a little embarrassing to read now, but I think it’s important to recognize how far I’ve come, and for others to see that I was just as scared as they/you may be now.
In short, I was terrified. Afraid of what people would think, that people on Facebook would laugh at me, that I would fail, etc.
However, when I launched, the response was overwhelmingly positive. So many people told me how impressed they were, how I was inspiring them. I got emails from people I hadn’t seen since elementary school, saying how cool my website was.
I try not to base my confidence on other people’s reactions – be they positive or negative – but it was a relief to see that most of my fears were unfounded.
So in sum,
- I had a strong Why, both in terms of the life I didn’t want and the life I longed for.
- I had daily rituals that provided a dose of inspiration in the morning and got me into a flow state to work.
- I surrounded myself with other people who were doing it, both by immersing myself in inspirational podcasts/books, and by connecting with new friends who were pursuing similar paths.
- I took my work extremely seriously every day.
I hope this helped give you some insight into my mindset when I was starting out. I actually sort of miss the drive (obsession?) that I had back then.
Now that things are a bit more settled, it’s harder to motivate myself to put in long days. That’s also one of the reasons that I’m always trying to push myself into new and uncomfortable situations.
How did you cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset when you were starting out? Or if you’re starting now, what strategies are you using to motivate yourself?