Starting From Scratch- Starting Your Side Business

What Does it Mean to Start from Scratch?

Starting from scratch sounds daunting at almost any stage of life! Those words sound like you have to start completely over and feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed can easily overtake every thought! However, at halftime, (age 40+) you’re not entirely starting from scratch. You have accumulated years of experience developed skills, resources and talents not only from a career but in living life. (see Market Value of Your Strengths at Halftime)

 When cooking, starting from scratch means you get out a recipe, then gather and measure out all the individual ingredients, mixing them in a certain order to create a meal or dessert. What starting from scratch doesn’t mean is taking a boxed mix, then just adding oil, egg and water. That boxed mix in cooking is a good illustration of your transferable skills. It’s a great place to start in creating both a recipe and a side business, putting premeasured elements that blend together successfully with ease.

Don't Discount Transferable Skills!

Moms, who have focused on raising their families often discount the skills they have used for years running a household. Many have coached their kids, worked a part-time job and coordinated multiple schedules and relationships using organizational and collaborative skills. They are extremely capable.

With 46% of the population considering the gig economy, (where your last job is your last job) there are those considering taking the entrepreneurial leap from a full-time day job along with those who are just re-entering the job market. In considering a new or expanded entrepreneurial venture, there are some vital principles to consider, as being in business for yourself can prove to be lonely, isolating, and a bit scary.

Deborah Johnson Journal

Important Mindsets

There will be times it feels like you’re pushing a freight train uphill—I know this because I’ve been there multiple times! Writing those thoughts down on paper in a journal really helps to reign in negative self-talk and discouragement. (yes, with pen and paper!) I have developed the habit of writing a couple short sentences every morning to start my day. It has become a habit that helps me focus and also helps me track where I’ve been. This applies whether or not you are currently in a full time position thinking about starting something new, or completely jumping in to a new venture.

When in business for yourself as your own boss, an independent contractor, or an entrepreneur, most start strong. But after the initial momentum has worn off the journey gets much tougher. Anxiety, fear and the imposter syndrome are constantly knocking at your door! Those are things you write in your couple sentences every morning! Also, because those feelings do come around more often than you’d like, it’s extremely important to have a strong foundation and structure in place. (See Organizational Structure article)

One of those foundational structural elements is to identify your unique transferable skills that are profitable and sustainable. In case you’re questioning your uniqueness, go to your local shopping area and do a little people-watching and see how many different sizes, shapes, colors and personalities there are. You are definitely uniquely you, not only in look, but skills! Again, spend time writing your thoughts and observations in a journal. You may be amazed at what you find coming out in the words you write!

Here are a few fun, but also sobering statistics. 84% of entrepreneurs create a business by choice instead of necessity. This is a good thing because satisfaction and creativity usually starts out high with the opportunity to make your own schedule and create your own path. However, there are also some sobering statistics. 70% of failures happen in year two to five. 14% of those are from not identifying the ideal customer. 29% run out of funds. And incompetence at 46% is the most common reason why businesses fail, according to a Statistic Brain Study. Part of incompetence is not identifying the skills and structure needed to be sustainable.

A Strong Foundation and Structure

A floor without a solid structure, foundation or footers will soon sink and even cave in. I worked for a number of years with a studio in the southern California mountains. When the studio owner was first purchasing his home-cabin, he excitedly showed me photos. It was idealistic in many ways. Pictured was a small cabin in the middle of pine trees and an incredible view of the whole valley below. I could just feel myself relax thinking about getting away to a place such as the one he was showing me to record music.

I told him how wonderful it looked, but then asked if he had arranged a quality home inspection. He hadn’t as of yet. He said it was offered at a great price and the owners were selling as is. Warning sirens went off in my head. This was before many of the current home inspection real estate regulations were in place for the state of California, but I told him it would be worth every penny to have an inspection. The next I heard, he had purchased the property and that’s when I started making the trek to his cute cabin to record a couple of my projects.

When the Floor Caves In

After working in my friend’s cabin-studio for over a year, which by then he had totally remodeled, he revealed a huge problem he had just discovered. The raised wooden floor was starting to sink in several places. When he then brought out a contractor for an inspection, they discovered there were NO footings holding up the floor, just cinderblocks sitting on dirt. I bit my tongue…Why didn’t he get that inspection? There are so many real-life applicable principles from this sinking floor situation that directly applies to our businesses and our life’s mission.

For informative purposes, a footer for a home is typically made of concrete with rebar reinforcement that has been poured into an excavated trench. The depth depends on the weight it will carry. The purpose of that footer is to support the foundation and prevent settling. Footers should be at least twelve inches below the frost line. (Especially in the mountains!) For there to be no footers underneath this cabin-studio floor was a huge problem as it wouldn’t take long for the entire refurbished wooden floor to cave in!

I know this sounds logical, but emotions take over not only in a home purchase, but in starting a business of your dreams. Halftime is a time when many are considering making a change to start a business of their dreams. It’s very tempting to go all in, quitting a secure position, but here is the warning sign: Start with a solid foundation and footers and start slowly!

Transferable Skills Infographic Deborah Johnson

Three Starting-From-Scratch Takeaway Principles

One: Realize You Have Unique, Transferable Skill(s).  This means you are not really starting totally from scratch—you have a boxed mix! At halftime, everyone has developed skills that are valuable and transferable. Some of those skills are natural inclinations and some are learned.

Two: Write in Your Journal, often. Developing and keeping a healthy mindset goes a long way as the not good enough monster comes by all too frequently! Actually writing out your thoughts with pen and paper usually helps to add perspective, encouragement and focus.

Three: Don’t Be in a Hurry! It’s worth taking your time to build a strong foundation. It may take even longer than expected if you have a current day job. But realize that there’s much wisdom in the principles taken from the Tortoise and the Hare story. Slow and steady wins the race!

Halftime is a very exciting time of life when skills, resources and talent come together. However, it’s tempting to just stay put even when unhappy with a job because it’s comfortable. Every new venture takes some sort of risk so evaluate yours and start slowly. Remember, if you never start, you’ll never finish! Also, if you only dream and never act, you give very little possibility of your dream to come true. I would love your dreams to come true, especially at halftime!

About the Author:

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain™® and President of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. Deborah provides principles to produce a successful second half, creating momentum and getting unstuck, reaching expansive goals and a desired lifestyle. Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of Stuck is Not a Four Letter Word, Bad Code and Women at Halftime. She speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.