As part of a special series we have partnered with The Six Day Business to help you start your brand. Read the Introduction and Part 1,2, 3, 4 & 5 first. You’ll need a pen and paper to fill out this section. Each question has two parts – the description and the question that you need to answer.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”Abraham Lincoln
Where Day Five was asking opinions of others, Day Six is about asking yourself some tough questions. Find a quiet spot where you’re not going to be disturbed, turn off your phone, and lean into the (what could be uncomfortable) process.
This day might take longer than the others as you let the ideas percolate, gain more inspration and rest. But do it properly.
DAY SIX – REFLECTION AND NEXT STEPS
You started from an idea, brought it to life, learnt about marketing, created a brand identity, and then took your product to the market.
After the chaos of the first five days, Day Six is a day of reflection. It is a day to look (as objectively as possible) at whether you came up with an idea that is worth spending more time on. We have given you the process to build out your idea, and ask the right questions. It is now time for you to make the choice that is right for you.
These questions are designed to really make you think. I’ve used this line before, and I’ll use it again.
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman
This is not a test, no-one is going to look at your answers. Being brutally honest with yourself is difficult but incredibly rewarding. The questions are designed to make you realise what the next steps are, and whether you’ve come up with a great idea! After you’ve worked through the questions you could bounce your answers off the trusted confidants you talked to in Day Five. Ask them to dive in to your answers and challenge your assumptions.
Remember—you are the one who will have to drive this idea forward day-by-day. Are you willing to do that?
6.1 – LOOKING BACK
We will start by looking back at the last five days. You can start by answering these questions:
- What was your biggest takeaway?
- What surprised you?
- What are the first thoughts that come to mind about this process?
- Who else should you have talked to?
- What have you learnED?
- What was the most challenging part (this can help you determine where you might need to look for complementary skill sets from a business partner)?
- Is this business really solving a problem for customers?
- Can you explain your idea to your grandparents? If not, why?
6.2 – LOOKING FORWARD
These last five days have been a jump-start on your business idea. Running a business is incredibly hard and isn’t something to jump in to lightly. Thinking about the resources and time you’ll need and then to be safe adding 50% or more to these numbers (it always takes longer and costs more than you think it will). This will also make you aware the type of partner and skill sets you need to keep an eye out for.
These questions are not binary—some will be positive and some won’t. You don’t need to commit to running this business for life. Keep in mind the question asked at the end of Day Five—“is it worth spending another Six Days, Six Months or Six Years on this idea?”
- What changes do you need to make before taking this further?
- Would running this business make me jump out of bed in the morning? Also consider the answer to this question after working 90 hour work weeks, not seeing your family, and struggling financially. Is it still going to keep you going?
- How much money would I need to test this out further?
- What resources do I have/can draw on to get this going?
- Do you really believe in this idea enough to turn it in to a business?
- What sacrifices/risks are you willing to take to make this happen?
- What would the short and long term goals be for the business—can I see myself doing this for 5-10 years?
- Do I have enough knowledge of this industry to make an impact?
- Do I need a co-founder right now? Will I need one eventually?
- Is your idea scaleable? E.g. Consulting is great because it doesn’t take many resources to get going, however on the flip side you are effectively trading your time for money—and if you stop working, money will stop coming in. For products, if you are baking every loaf of bread you are making, and you can only make 30 loaves a day, that is your cap. You will not be able to scale without staff. Do you want to take staff on?
- Who from the list of people I talked to in Day Five would invest £10, £100 or £1,000 in your idea to give you resources to take this further. Ask them if they would invest—the worst that can happen is they say no.
- What else is relevant to make a decision?
6.3 – YOUR NEXT STEPS
What are your next steps—do you want to spend more time on your idea and spend 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months on it? This might seem overwhelming as this step is “ok go do it, or don’t”.
Instead, plan out the next week. What can you do next? Do you want to spend more time on your prototype, or your online presence? Are there people you want to speak to again? Or maybe you want to take the week off to reflect. The choice is yours. Right now, commit to the one thing you’ll do in the next week to take your idea (or not) forward. It might be to do with this idea, it might be to come up with 10 business ideas each day (and really stretch yourself) to keep your creative muscles flexing.
THE BIG QUESTION
What are the next milestones that you can set? E.g. Sell one loaf of bread at a market (achievable and validates your idea).
The goal of The Six Day Business is to give you a holistic overview of elements you need to start a business, and get you going on each one. We have just given you a taster of each of the steps—and what they entail.
You might find that you want to spend more time on marketing, or developing a great website, or learning how to sell better. Over the next six weeks you can learn more about each one (there is recommended reading at www.sixday.business/reading) that will allow you to dive deeper.
What we don’t want you to do is lose sight of this iterative process of development. Always question what the market wants and needs, and never build something in the hopes that customers will magically appear. As you get better at this process you will be able to iterate more quickly, build what is relevant and make sure there is always a customer for what you are doing. And that is the joy of entrepreneurship—there is always something to learn, build and share with the world.
There is a myth about entrepreneurship—the overnight success. As Lisa Morton said:
“Some say I’m an overnight success. Well, that was a very long night that lasted about 10 years.”
There is a fine balance between listening to other people’s advice (like this book) and figuring it out yourself. We aim to provide the structure from which you draw out your own ideas, and come to your own conclusions.
You cannot expect to get everything right the first time, you need to learn, you need to make mistakes, but most importantly you need to start. To this day we are still starting and running businesses and most importantly learning every day. Our own journey, like this book, will continue to evolve as we learn, and build in feedback from others on this journey.
Deciding what to do about an idea that has been bouncing around inside your head for a long time is incredibly difficult. Saying goodbye, or even better ‘let’s do this,’ can be a tough decision to make.
Once we started talking to people about our ideas (whether good or bad) people started appearing who wanted to help, and be a part of what we are doing. This won’t happen if you keep an idea inside.
This process was never about the ‘silver bullet of success’ (and if someone tells you they have that, they’re lying). It’s never going to be ‘yes this idea will work’ (unless you have sold out of your service/idea in this week) or ‘no it won’t’ because only the market can decide what will or will not work.
This was about you and your idea, and giving yourself the confidence to take it to market. And you did, and that’s incredible—it really is.
As you’ll discover, once you start to have ideas, it is tough to stop. This is why it is crucial to continually evaluate your ideas, and then be selective on how to execute on them, and why.
If we could leave you with just two pieces of advice it would be this:
- Everyone is constantly making things up and pretending to know what they’re doing. In reality, there is never going to be a perfect time to do anything—you’re not going to be less busy in the future and be ready to start your business. Those who are doing it now probably don’t know more than you do, but the difference is they are giving it a shot.The time is now. And remember that everyone started where you are. They thought they could do it so they did. They made it up, they made mistakes, and they persevered.
- Everything in this world was made by somebody. Made by people just like you. Look around, the chair you’re sitting on, the mug you’re drinking from—someone conceived it, built it, and sold it. There is no reason that person can’t be you.
We are still on the path of entrepreneurship and we know that it will always be something that excites us, motivates us and scares us. Even since we started writing two years ago we learned a huge amount—learnings we are putting in to practice day-by-day. And we know that after we publish this book we will immediately have something else to add (inevitable we know).
We believe that anyone can start a business, whether it is a full time endeavour, or something that keeps you engaged. Whatever it is, it’s possible.
We are incredibly happy to have had you with us on this journey, and hope that you can use this process again and again as you continue to come up with, and test, great ideas.
Stay in touch and we look forward to seeing how you do.