It seems I’ve started a business. A Virtual Assistant business, to be exact.
As the title says, I can assure you that this happened purely by accident. This type of thing can happen to anyone. It might happen to you if you aren’t careful. I’ve learned something important about business. You don’t get into business because you decide to. You get into business because it’s time for you to get into business.
In 2007, I “decided” to start a business. The endeavor was a spectacularly hilarious failure. I started out by attempting to sell protein shakes and vitamins. Then, as I’ve shared on numerous occasions, I attempted to start a number of different businesses, all with ambiguous purposes and confusing titles. Case in point: I decided I would become a “Transformational Energy Consultant” one day. I can’t remember quite what I thought this was going to look like. But to make a very long story short, I ran out of money and nearly ran myself into the ground after several fruitless years of trying to build what I thought was a business. I simply wasn’t willing to accept the plain reality that I wasn’t ready yet, and that the time wasn’t right.
During this period, I repeatedly tried to sell myself as a writer. I just couldn’t make a go of it. Looking back on it, the reasons are obvious. I hadn’t researched the market. I hadn’t determined what people really wanted and needed. I hadn’t structured my business the right way. I hadn’t done the math and figured out what my numbers needed to be in order for the economics to work. I didn’t have the conditioning of an entrepreneur. I wasn’t clear about my goals. But all of that was superficial. There was a deeper truth that I wasn’t paying attention to. It just wasn’t time yet. I wanted it to be time, but it wasn’t. I wanted the fruit to be ripe, but it wasn’t ripe yet.
Fast forward to May of 2013. I found myself at a crossroads, trying to figure out what my next moves were. I “decided” to look for a fast food job. Food food jobs were not forthcoming. Every place that I applied said the same thing: “No, we’re not hiring, but we’ll take your application.” It was a blow to my ego to realize that I couldn’t even manage to get hired to flip burgers—and to see that I was getting passed over for jobs that high school kids were getting.
Then, the next day, I woke up with an old idea.
See, it wasn’t a new idea. It was an idea I’d be tossing around for a number of years. Why not start a Virtual Assistant business? The service fills an underserved need in the marketplace. I’d known it for several years. And I thought to myself, “It’s time.”
Then came the “buts” and the “what if’s.” “But I don’t have enough capital.” “But I don’t have enough time. I don’t have the experience. I don’t have the proof that this will work. What if it doesn’t take off quickly enough? What if I fail? What if I never get off the ground?” In the end, I decided that waiting for every traffic light to go green at the same time would condemn me to a life of mediocrity and quiet desperation. I decided that if I don’t go for it now, I probably never will.
What led me to decide to do this now, rather than before? I’m not sure. Something just clicked. A switch in my brain flipped. Maybe it was divine inspiration. Maybe it was my entrepreneur’s biological clock ticking. But there came a moment when I just knew that I had to move forward, and that I would never have the proof.
What’s the difference between now and 2007? After all, I didn’t have the proof back then, either. But that wasn’t the issue. Back then, I thought I got to decide how and when I would go into business. I tried to seize control of a process that wasn’t mine to control. I tried to dictate the terms of how people would do business with me. The result? They walked away. It took a lot of awkward situations to show me that I am not in control. This time, I didn’t decide to go into business. I found myself going into business because that was simply the only logical move to make.
I don’t particularly want to start a business right now. It’s not a convenient time. Yes, I’m excited, but I’m not euphoric. Actually, I’m a bit scared. I would rather wait six months to a year to build up a nest egg. I don’t feel like I’m ready. But ready or not, the time is now and I’m moving forward.
It’s almost too simple to describe. It’s as if I’m in the Matrix and I just popped the Red Pill. I’m not sure what’s about to happen, but I have the distinct feeling that things are about to get very interesting.
If you’re thinking of going into business and having a hard time deciding whether or not now is the right time, I’m afraid I have nothing useful to offer you. I wish I could tell you that “you’ll just know” if it’s time, but that’s BS. I would have told you that I “just knew” in 2007, and I was dead wrong. I would have told you that I “just knew” that my business idea was the perfect thing to do. I don’t “just know” right now. In fact, I am stewing in uncertainty as I write this post. I’m wallowing in doubts, what-if’s, questions I don’t have the answers to, and a need for answers that I don’t have the questions to. I am not at all comfortable. I am not at all certain of what the outcome will look like.
It doesn’t feel like I made the perfect decision. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I made a decision. It won’t go perfectly. There will be bumps in the road. I will do things that I’ll realize I should have done differently. I’ll get scraped up and banged around a bit. But in the end, it will be worth it.
Tonight, I’m going to sleep with a smile on my face.