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Are you a man or a mouse? When starting the start-up is scary

By Amy Nielsen

When I graduated from my professional certification program I hadn’t finished the legal business part of starting a business. The course I took was specifically about the coaching part of the business.

My next step is to finish up business process. This is the part that scares the heck out of me.

What I mean to say is it makes me feel like a real live adult. With responsibilities. It means I have to step up to the plate and be seen. It means owning the good and the bad, because there will be mistakes along the way. It will take courage to make it through this next few steps. Courage, the root word means heart and the word entire means to live your story with your whole heart.

The whole process of starting a small business is nothing more than taking a microscope to your core personal beliefs and offering them up for others to discuss. Whether you are a hair stylist, accountant, or candlestick maker, your business must follow your core beliefs or it won’t last very long. If you are conflicted about what you are offering, your client base will be confused as well. Clarity in your vision is imperative.

Thus the being seen part. I have always made an excellent second. I can see another’s vision and get to the nitty gritty of the flow of it and make it relatable to other people. Which is to say, I am a great follower. I know what I believe in and I find people who tell that story well. I am good at clarifying other’s ideas. But being a follower means I don’t have to examine my story very hard if I use someone else’s voice to speak it.

These next formal legal business formation steps force me to speak my own story. I have to choose what narrative I want to live. I have lived a bit of an unbelievable life. I have been afforded some extraordinary opportunities. I have lived several narratives already. In some ways this new piece feels very much like a coming of age, a rite of passage, and a milestone of momentous proportions even among those experiences. I feel like this next narrative is somehow weightier than those before.

I come from a line of entrepreneurs, both successful and unsuccessful – though that never stopped ‘em. My family is full of CEOs, COOs, Chairmen (and women), Foundation Presidents, and all and sundry positions in every imaginable part of a not-for-profit one could imagine. Some of these are very large well known organizations, some are tiny little niche projects.

My dad even taught the subject for a large state university while I was in college. I have a long history from a very young age of volunteering and being voluntold to participate in these organizations. The vast majority of them were founded by said family members.

Yet, somehow, I haven’t the slightest idea how the business and organizations actually get started or run on a day-to-day basis. I feel like I am the worker bee who just can’t figure out how to get into the hive door. I feel like somehow I should just - know. By osmosis I guess. Somehow I feel like I wasn’t paying enough attention to the details. Of course I was busy growing up and stuff, but it’s a tape I hear play when I think about starting my own organization.

This weird “you should know” fear is so large that I have spent hours reading things online rather than seeking out actual human beings to ask for help. Because somehow from my history, I should know this stuff, right? I honestly don’t think I would feel this way if my family members worked for other people for their career paths. Sometimes living on the cultural fringe brings up strange reflexes.

This is the part where the universe says, girl, how much do you really want this? Are you a man or a mouse? Are you going to pout about all the fruit hanging in the high branches of the tree next door or are you going to dig deep and water your own roots?

My current convenient procrastination from jumping off the legal business cliff is my financial aid package for graduate school. This week I finalize the application for financial aid for my Master’s degree, another step closer to fitting the pieces of the larger business puzzle together. Part of my business plan involves needing credentials that stand up as the leader of the kind of organization I want to build. Taking the step to accept the admissions offer for this fall felt like the beginnings of a big step into being recognized, into being seen and heard for my own ideas.

Once I have that in place and know if I am going to school in the fall or if I will be less encumbered, then I can move forward with the business. I feel like it’s a bit of a procrastination to say I have to wait to hear from school, but I don’t want to expend the slim resources I have. Here’s where the library is going to come in handy.

When I turn to my community to search out all of the assistance I keep hearing about online and in advertisements, I find that our rural area only wants to talk to someone with larger aspirations than I have at this current juncture. I’m heading to the library to check out the “Small Business Start Ups for Dummies” book in hopes that finally I might find a starting point. Our library also offers occasional free classes on small business topics.

At some point I will have to face my story, decide my voice, and use it. Whether it is now or later, I feel the personal pressure to get this out to the world will outweigh the fears I have about how much I really don’t know about the business of business. I know that I will have to face this fear if I want to succeed in supporting those people I want to reach. Until then, I will start desensitizing myself to the idea by reading up on the subject. Preferably in the dark, under the covers, with a flashlight.

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