Today’s biz column is a long one. I could write a whole book about this subject – are you a dreamer or a doer, or maybe a bit of both? If you’re thinking of starting your own business or want to take your existing one further you’ve kind of got to get off the dreaming fence and jump on board the doing fence. Whilst dreaming is good (where would we be without dreams) we’ve got to execute them and I think there is no better time than now!
I thought for today’s biz post I would write down all those things that have held me back professionally in the past. I reckon if I hadn’t procrastinated for quite such a long time I would be running the country by now! In all seriousness, I’m hoping it might inspire anyone who is pondering or sitting on a dream to go and make that dream a reality!
This is perhaps the biggest thing that holds us up. We feel we will mess up, look silly in front of others, lose respect, waste money, waste time etc. etc. We make up endless excuses like having no time, not knowing where to start, not knowing how to get finance, tons and tons of excuses all of the time. Excuses prevent us from doing.
Case in point is our own label collection. We have committed tens and tens of thousands of pounds to designing and putting into production a whole host of items that no one might ever buy. We’ve committed everything we have; if it fails it will be the hugest, biggest, fattest failure this business has ever made. We’ve also committed to launching it in Paris at the most prestigious trade show in the world. What if no one buys it, or it gets slated, or worse it doesn’t even turn up on time? This could tank us big time. That’s apart from all the stuff that is already going wrong. Samples are coming in thick and fast and many of them have problems – wrong size, colour, shape so many issues that Gem and I are having to hot foot it to Asia in two weeks time to try and iron out all the problems in person.
This is in the middle of everything else, writing the book, running classes, running the biz. This is seriously scary stuff and there is a lot on the line. So yes I’m out of my comfort zone. Yes, I’ve never done this before. But you know what, it’s incredibly exciting. I’ve stopped thinking about it, just dreaming about it, and now I’m doing it. I don’t want a comfortably boring-ish life full of “what-if”s, nor do I just want to buy other people’s products anymore. I want my own! So yes there may be frustrations and long hours, but if my only alternative is doing nothing then to hell with that I say! For me the idea of doing nothing is far far scarier than sticking your neck out and taking the risk.
Is this holding you back? Perfectionism is another thing has held me back plenty of times in the past. Another example – it has taken 4, maybe even 5 years to go from designing 5 dog lights to a 70 piece homeware collection. Why so long and what’s been wrong with me you may ask? The answer is just perfectionism. I’ve constantly got stuck at the pre-launch, endlessly tweaking designing phase. Not signing anything off because I thought I could always make it better.
Designing for Debenhams actually got me out of this rut. When they signed me I had to commit to a 30-piece collection, twice a year. I had proper crazy deadlines but I kept to them and luckily people loved what I presented, and it’s now the bestselling homeware line they have! I had managed it when other people imposed deadlines on me, so I realised I had to give myself similar deadlines. My own deadlines burnt me out but I stuck to them and I nailed it. From now on there are always self-imposed deadlines and I always, always stick to them no matter how tired or how long the days! Perfectionism could take forever, and it’s better to act now.
Is this perhaps holding you back? I know that unless I make a commitment to a launch day I could forever push something back. So I took it one step further, and I decided to launch my collection at the most prestigious show in the world, (double pressure), but I really don’t like doing things half-heartedly. So I set a goal and a deadline, and now I have to focus like crazy to make it happen! My working days have gotten even longer, but you only go round once I say.
You’ve got to want to do this. Really want to do it and not just have fun cosily imagining doing it. For me it’s like there is this underlying desire to transform the snooty old homewares biz into something exciting that no one has seen in a long time. This hunger keeps powering me on, it’s addictive and I truly believe our new own label is going to knock it out of the park. I’m never comfortable or complacent and I’m always thinking up new concepts. I’m never really satisfied (now I’m not saying that’s a good thing, because it’s not), but you have got to have drive. No drive = no successful business, its as simple as that.
I don’t think it’s anything to do with lack of skills that holds us back. We don’t turn dreams into reality because we don’t believe in ourselves enough. I’m here to tell you to believe in yourself. Excuses don’t change things, actions do. Here’s to doing and not dreaming!
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