I spent a lot of money last month. I spent it on a lot of valuable things. Shelter. Food. Carhartt’s. Caramel apples. And my business.
There are two phases in starting a new business. Phase One is where a lot of us get trapped forever. We’re planning to launch. We buy business cards and a website and perhaps a marketing guru. If we’re really crazy, we get distracted by all the possible things we could buy for our business and decide we couldn’t possibly begin our launch until we have custom-made curtains for the office with our face appliquéd on the side.
Now, the money-spending phase is a legitimate phase. We are all online these days (no, really, look around you. Hi, you’re online). If you want people to take you seriously as a professional, it is wise to have a website. I’m not saying you can’t do it the other way, because you can, and I did, and I am currently, right now, but I am aware of the sadness of this situation. Because here’s what happens every time I’m in a room with other legitimate businesspeople and someone asks what it is that I do.
“Aren’t you a delightful young woman!” exclaims a fortysomething woman who runs the local business bureau.
“I am, I am! I am a delightful young woman! I am smart and talented and a very good writer! You know people who need delightfully smart and talented writers, don’t you, don’t you?” say I, playing hard to get, as I often do.
“Why, yes, I do. What’s your website, dear?”
“Ah. Well. You see . . . ”
It gets a bit awkward after that.
So. The website is valuable. The business cards are valuable because they let people carry around the name of the website (handy). The marketing guru is valuable because she can tell me to stop at buying business cards and the website and make sure I don’t embarrass myself in the execution of either of those things. She also tells me how to execute Phase Two.
Phase Two, paging Phase Two.
I have not yet gotten to Phase Two. It is with great shame that I tell you this. I realize some of you already know it, and I would like to congratulate you. Now be quiet.
Phase Two is the actual launch of the business. For those of you keeping track (and I intend to have you all poisoned later, never fear), the business was supposed to launch a month ago. Those of you still keeping track (and poison is too good for you lot) will note that this launch has not precisely happened so much as it has, in fact, not. Here’s why.
Phase One is the easy phase.
Spending money is easy. Earning money to spend is less so, but the delightful thing about spending money is that it is delivered over to another person, whose job it then becomes to please you. There are many wonderful things about this, but I need only mention that magical phrase ‘the customer is always right’, and remind you of the many times it has been used against me in my life, to let you know this is a bewitching phase in which to be.
It feels active, too. It feels decisive and firm. I, King of All That I See, have spent MONEY upon a Thing, and thence it shall be done. So went my decree. I was quite pleased with it. The problem is, I was wrong. Because in order to spend your money on the right thing, you have to know what the right thing is, and you have to know what to do with it when it arrives.
Website, for example. I’ve had the website for ages. Remember the supremely cool banner? Harry is a tiny god in human form. In fact, we have decided that he is the Lord of the Underworld in my personal pantheon. Yes, I have a pantheon. That is not the point. The point is that my website has been sitting empty of text for quite awhile, because I do not know what to do with it.
Well. I do. And that’s rather the problem.
I have to fill it with copy. Phase Two is marketing and promoting. Phase Two is sending out the call. Phase Two is put up or shut up time, and this may have something to do with why I’m all riled up. Phase Two involves putting all my newly acquired stuff to work. I have to go to my networking events with my business cards, and people will then go to my site, and they will see it, and if I have screwed it up royally, they will know all about it.
Phase Two means putting yourself on the line. It is more labor intensive than the first phase, and more personal, because it no longer involves objects being successful. It involves you, yourself, being successful. I don’t know what side of the banana tree you swing on, but for me, if I can get objects to endure things instead of me, I am all for it. But I can’t. That’s not what Phase Two is.
Phase Two is brutal.
The thing about Phase Two is you have to just hold your nose and jump. If you can manage it, get someone else to push you in. Then you won’t be able to stop it, and you’ll be grateful to the friend for making you do something scary but rewarding. You know, the way birds who shove their babies out of the nest so they’ll fly. Or break their necks on the sidewalk. I mean. Wait. WHAT?
Yes, that’s right. There is a chance that I will break my metaphorical neck on the sidewalk. I may do all my marketing stuff and get no new clients and misspell things in my press release (as you know I am in the habit of doing) and say unkind things about the Queen of England on my blog (oh, NO. What have I done?). There is a chance it won’t work. It is a real chance, and it does not go away by not recognizing it. Trust me. I tried.
The thing is, if I fly, I get to fly. And then James will be jealous of me. And really, isn’t that worth the risk? Isn’t that worth any risk? I think so.
Subscribe. Tomorrow I get wings. And, with any luck, cojones.