What do I do First?

I have people ask me this all the time.

I have started a business, so what do I now? What do I do first?

I always have a hard time answering this question. Which is odd. I mean, all I do is business! How can I NOT know the first step? I really started to question my abilities recently, because I struggled so much with this question.

 

But then it hit me.

 

You started a business but are still waiting for someone to tell you what to do.

We all know the stories about the VP in the corner office. Your oh-so-wonderful boss. How he never does any “real” work, he just sits around bothering people. Or the small business owner who is only in the office 20 or 30 hours a week while you slave away at the phones or the computer.

These people are missing a key point of the process. They are doing the work. But running a business means having to decide what work to do. That is the most common thing I see among unsuccessful business owners. They never did the BUSINESS side of their business.

You know what that VP is doing all day? Deciding what the company should be doing. And when. And why. And who should do it. And I guarantee that some days he wishes he could just show up to work, mindlessly pound away on a keyboard doing whatever it is someone else told him to do. He envies the low stress job you have, that allows you to leave it all at the office when you clock out. Trust Me.

I have made lots of decisions as the manager of my company. I was wrong, a LOT. But I was right as well (more often than wrong, I hope!). But when you have to look at someone across a table and tell them they are fired, and you know it’s because you made a pivot the wrong way, then you will truly understand what it means to run a business. This one person might be losing their livelihood, but you have 10 other people who still work for you and you need to protect their livelihood. And having the guts to make that call is what being the boss is all about. There is no manual to running a business. You DON’T KNOW what to do most of the time. But you gather data, think it over, and make a call. Sometimes you are right, and sometimes you are wrong. But I promise that you will never have the decision made for you. Hell, you likely wont even know what the decision IS.

 

So.

 

What should you do first?

 

Hell if I know.

 

YOU DECIDE.

 

And if you can’t? Then you aren’t running a business, friend.

 

Comments

  1. A few things… to start, AMEN! Knowing what needs to happen and more importantly what happens next is essential. As someone who spends some of his time managing others and most of the time managing himself (a full time in itself), I know the importance of just knowing what’s important. I also have learned over time that it’s rare that we don’t actually know what’s next, even when we say we don’t. It’s just a damn good form of procrastination (or so I’ve heard…). All I know is the guys who spend that time “thinking” have a tendency to also be the guys who make game changing moves. Then again, occasionally they’re also just doing a totally different type of procrastination (but that’s another conversation for another day).

    When I drag you on the show, I still want to go one step back in the stack. Want to talk more about that moment before you start a business or when you’re not even sure it is or should be a business. We can and should touch on the damn valid point above as it’s essential, but I still really want to look at the moment before you turn it into a business and what you need to start thinking about in order to make that shift from BSing to forming a business.

    Last, but not least, sorry for the belated response. I may or may not have fallen asleep putting a four year old to sleep twice. Again, I can not confirm this fact, but I’ve heard rumors.

  2. Hi Andrew.

    I found your site reading your comment about your use of WorkFlowy . . .

    Anyway – how about this:

    Q: “I’ve started a business, what do I do first?”

    A: “What have you done to get to this point? What seems like the next logical step?”

    It is difficult for me to imagine someone asking this. I suppose this is the proverbial individual who is a good cook, so a friend says “you should open a restaurant” – net day they sign a lease for space in a strip center, complete the build-out and now wait to be flooded with business?? I can hear them, stressing out in their empty restaurant asking – “what do I do next”?

    Yikes.

    • Hi Phil!

      Yes, that would be a much nicer answer that what I gave. You must be a much nicer guy than me. But it accomplishes the same ends. It turns the question back around on the entrepreneur. They might come back with a “well I don’t know the next logical step, I just know how to cook!”. To which my answer, which is the what I was trying to get across with this post is, “Well then, sounds like you don’t actually have a business! Time to do some planning!”

      Thanks so much for writing in.

      Andrew

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