Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Lost in a Fog?

Imagine yourself, for a moment, standing in a fog. The fog is so dense that you can barely see your proverbial hand in front of your proverbial face. You know you have to move, to get somewhere, but you can’t see where you’re going. What’s your first step?

Do you ever feel that way? Since you decided to start a home based business on the web, sometimes it feels like the fog is pretty thick. And often that first step, deciding what sort of business to do, is the scariest. But, you know that you have to make that choice. You can’t just stand in the fog forever. You won’t get anywhere. You’ll end up in the same place you’ve always been.

1. Start with yourself

This is the best place to begin. In the foggy situation above, that’s all you can see to begin with, right? Do a bit of personal assessment.

What are your interests? What are your hobbies, and your skills? What drives you? What are your passions? Begin by simply brainstorming out a list of things you enjoy. Then take it to the next step, by asking yourself to think of ways to make money in each one of the interest areas. Don’t worry too much about how good or how practical those ideas are at the start. You can sort through that later. For now, just come up with possibilities.

Now, you’ll find yourself with a lot of possibilities. You might notice that the fog is starting to dissipate already, even if only a little bit. Maybe you can see a few more inches in front of you.

Begin eliminating the ideas that you don’t particularly like, or the things that seem to be too difficult, or possibly not cost-effective. Before long, you’ll be left with several good and potentially workable possibilities for a business.

2. Research the Ideas

Head out on the net, and do some studies. Nothing blows away a fog like the warm wind of information. Pick one of your ideas to begin with, and look at other sites that are doing the same thing, or similar things. Don’t be afraid of competition. The Internet is huge, there will be competition. But do study it. How are they presenting their products? What sorts of business models are they running? How could you do it better?

If your website is going to be product-based, you’ll need to research some product sources. Do searches for wholesale or even drop-ship companies that handle those product lines.

As you do these steps for each of the business ideas you have, you’ll be able to see more clearly. The fog is scattering more and more, and you’re beginning to see ground in front of you.

3. Take a few steps

Part of the trouble is, however, that not only are you seeing ground in front of you, but you’re probably also seeing it to your left, your right, and even a bit behind you. Which way do you go? At this stage, it can be a tough decision. You want to know what the end is going to be, but we can’t always see the future. You also don’t want to end up like the donkey that starved between two bales of hay.

Sometimes, we just have to take a little risk, make a little decision, and take a few small steps. Choose a direction and begin to investigate that direction with more vigor. My father used to tell me, “It’s much easier for the good Lord to guide your feet when they’re moving!” If your first few steps are small, changing your direction will be relatively easy.

As you research one of your ideas in more depth, the fog scatters more, and you can see more and more ground around your feet. Continue this process. Learn, step. Learn, step. Pretty soon, you’ll add a third part. Learn, step, do. Learn, step, do.

4. As the knowledge grows, the fog dissipates.

The more you know, the more you do, the more the winds blow away the fog. And ultimately, the more clearly you can see. Soon the fog is gone, and you can see the horizon, and your goals. That’s when your pace quickens, your steps get livelier, and your progress zooms.

And your business succeeds.

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