The Four Stages of Business

Last week I wrote about the “flip” – the moment where you start thinking of being a Professional. That's one moment in the life of a business, but in my years of working with makers, I've noticed there are actually a few stages that come before the flip:

  1. Thinking
  2. Plotting
  3. Doing
  4. Doing it and doing it and doing it well*

*You're singing this now, aren't you?


There’s often a looong period of time where you consider selling what you make. In this stage you may even take some “steps” like signing up for Etsy, listing a few things with hastily taken photos, or starting a blog (or maybe a whole string of un-updated blogs).
You think. You dream.

This is an important stage. But this is not a business.



This is different for different people. For me, it involved a crazy amount of research (mostly business books) and writing down every idea I had. For others, it involves sending emails to people who might help (like me!). Or reading the Etsy forums. Or finding some blogs.

The difference between this stage and the first?


At this point, you know, that you will do this sell-what-you-make thing. You will.
You may not know how. Or when. But something has shifted.
It’s real.
But it’s still not a business.

This plotting may eventually lead to Doing, but many (MANY!) people get stuck on the I-need-to-learn-more train and never get off. They go around and around and don't take any action.


This is the stage where you make it happen.

If you hang out in the plotting stage too long, doubt will creep in.
Is it real?
Is it possible?

Stay in this doubt too long and you slip back into the Thinking stage.
Everything seems too hard. Too confusing. Too out-of-your-range.

So how do you move from Plotting to Doing?
By making one decision.
A decision to commit.
When you turn that surety in your heart into something tangible.

The decision can be anything.
But it must involve investing in your business (investing = risking time or money or your comfort on something that will yield returns).
It can be signing up for a class.
It can be DOING what you learned from a blog post, a class, a friend.

Anything that you can look at when doubt seeps in and say “No, this isn’t just a dream, I AM doing it.”

(Afraid of moving to Doing too soon? Think you need more Plotting before you commit? Be reassured: you will ALWAYS be plotting. You never stop Plotting. I’ve been Doing a business for over 7 years, and I've been self-employed for 5 years and I’m still Plotting and changing and experimenting.)


It's only after you start Doing that you make the flip to a Professional. It's only after you're IN it, that you can get good at it.

But here's the thing: you can be Doing and STILL not have a business. Unless you have built a foundation and systems, all of your doing will be random and ineffective.


Doing it and doing it and doing it well

This is where you'll spend the rest of your business life, and this is where what you're doing becomes an actual business. This is where you do the profitability math, develop a marketing plan, and begin to shape a business you really want, focused on your own goals. (This is where I work with people. I don't help you with the initial start-up, I help you make it more awesome and more you.)

You can move forward.

No matter where you are now, and how long you've been there, you can make progress towards your dream.

I've put everything you need in the foundations of your business into one program, so that you can shift from random action to sustained focus (and profits!). In Lift Off, you'll figure out where you want to go, set clear goals, regularly assess what you're doing (so you only do what works!), do your profit math, create a marketing plan, and learn from your own business, so that you can take your business to the next level (whatever that is for you).

Lift Off is the guidance & training you need to get your biz off the ground and into the stars! It is open now.



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