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How To Run A Successful Start-Up Without Sacrificing Your Soul

This is our first post in our series Tell Us Your Story – by Christine Livingston from A Different Kind Of Work. Christine  is a coach and writer, who helps professional people wanting to work and live on their own terms.

Over to you Christine:

Living life more on your terms is a key inspiration for starting your own business.

Your techie product idea; your professional moms networking concept; your Le Marche retreat centre; your organic café dream; your online marketing ambition – whatever the picture, your soul is right there in the hot seat, driving you to achieve more fully what you want.

But too often fledgling entrepreneurs get so lost in the whole start-up game that they rob themselves of the very experiences they imagined they’d set out to create.

Here, instead, is how to stay alive and thrive through the process.

Protect your dreams

Creative ideas are one thing. Manifesting them quite another. Dreams often die on the vine because they aren’t given the right kind of support and attention.

At a basic level this means having a rock solid financial plan in place. Make provision for key expenditure: your salary for the next two years; other staffing costs; research and development investment; start-up loan repayments; accountancy and legal fees. These kind of things all need to be in there and thought through, at the same time as you consider your go-to-market strategy and pricing approach.

Realistic timescales, milestones, and key performance indicators are part of this picture too.

They may feel right now to be unnecessary admin and bureaucracy, but these practical things will save you many sleepless nights and encourage both your confidence and productivity down the track.

Think whole life

So you’re getting your business plans polished and you’re feeling great about how they’re coming along. But don’t forget to give the same dedicated time and focus to the other things you want from life.

What else needs to be zinging for you, in order that your soul feels alive?

The family whose support you no longer wish just to take for granted? The fitness goals you want to achieve beyond the end of January? The special relationship whose joy you want to cherish?

What does “good” look like for each of them?

And how, in your great new entrepreneurial world, are you going to go about making sure you achieve it?

Figure what’s fundamental

In our western world, work tends to dominate as the thing around which life is organised.

Is that the mindset you’re going to take as you approach your start-up?

You may choose, of course, to see things that way. But what if, as an entrepreneur, you decided to see something else as the foundation stone upon which to build the rest of your life, including work?

What would that something else be?

Your partner? Your children? Your spiritual practice? Your health and wellbeing?

It’s important that you realize you have choice in this, and that you’ve made this choice at a heart-felt level, if your soul is to feel alive and free in your start-up venture.

Negotiate your boundaries

The last three things together give you a big, whole life, picture not just of where you’re heading but also of what’s important.

Now it’s time to weave this clarity into your life day-by-day, decision-by-decision, action-by-action.

To what will you say yes? And to what will you say no? What will you push and what will you drop? What will you try to control and what will you concede? Which battles will you choose to win? Which battles do you need to lose?

What needs to be done today? What can wait till tomorrow?

Trust that your soul knows the answer to these questions and put it in the driving seat. Value yourself and stay firm, even when you want to bow under to external pressure.

And, while negotiating these boundaries, consider also the following two mindset principles:

Think good enough

Often the creative force that leads you into running your own show in the first place, gets distorted into needing everything to be just right.

The problem with this is that perfection in one thing leads to failure in another.

Waiting for your product to be perfect means you can fail at getting it out there when the market is ripe.

Achieving the perfect business can mean that your relationship falls flat on its face.

You need to think about the trade offs between one thing and another, and keep moving if you want to keep feeling good about what you’re doing.

Delegate

Entrepreneurs are often guilty of thinking that they’re indispensable and that they must do everything themselves.

Instead, there are rafts of specialists out there waiting and willing to provide expertise for your business in all kind of areas. It may seem like a lot of money, and it may appear to be a waste of time to have to brief others. But when you consider the opportunity cost of your designing your own website, or doing your own financial accounts, you’ll see that hiring an expert is money well spent.

And frees your soul for the stuff it loves to do.

Running a successful start up without giving your soul away is all about owning the choices you have, understanding and sitting in your own power, seeing work in the context of your whole life, and paying attention to the right things for you. It’s a challenging path, for sure, and one that many people abdicate.

But don’t cop out. Lead the way. Be one of the incredible few that gives their soul a chance at coming alive in the process of having their own fabulous business.

What speaks to you in all of this? What things can you change immediately to give yourself a more fulfilling start-up experience?

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