If you were going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, would you wake up one day and say “I’ve always wanted to hike the PCT,” grab a backpack, toss in some water and snacks, lace up your shoes, and head out the door?

If you did, how far do you think you would get?

In order to go the distance and reach your destination, you’ll need a plan. Even more than a plan, you’ll need to understand on a micro level your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and skills. It will be essential to gain clarity about what you think you know, what you don’t know, and what you don’t know you don’t know. This is because what’s in your head is as vital to your success as what’s in your pack. What’s true for hiking the PCT is equally true when you’re thinking about starting a business.

What’s In Your Backpack?

Choosing what to bring on your journey can make or break you and your venture. For instance, there are essentials like food, water, shelter, and footwear. Then, there are items of great importance, like body care, clothing, and cookware. Finally, there are the items that you think you’ll want but don’t necessarily need.

When you ask someone about starting a business, particularly when you’re 50+, you’re likely to hear them tell you to follow your passion. After all, you’ve been doing what everyone else wanted you to do for much of your life, why wouldn’t you do what makes you happy now? This is like thinking that having great hiking boots will assure your success on the trail.  In fact, approaching your decision this way can cost you time, money and energy that you really can’t afford to lose at this point in your life.

So what you want to be able to do is to have a catalog of your strengths, skills, talents, education, experience, and liabilities. You want to understand what motivates you and what’s going to get in your way. You want to know if there’s a viable pool of customers and what resources are available to you. It’s also vital that you detail your concepts in writing.

Your 8-Point Starting A Business Checklist

1: Assess your leadership ability. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’re going to need excellent leadership skills.

2: Catalogue your skills and talents. You need to be honest and aware in order to utilize what you have and acquire what you don’t.

3: List your strengths and weaknesses. A clear-eyed inventory will make the difference between success and failure since you’ll know where and when to call in someone to help.

4: Be honest about what will stop you. We’ve all had the experience of coming up against our inner critic, worrier, or naysayer. Get the conversation out in the open before you begin.

5: Research whether what you want to do is something people want. The chilling reality is that if no one wants to compensate you for what you’re offering, it won’t be a financially viable business.

6: Learn about resources that will help you get to where you want to go. This takes a mindset of willingness and curiosity that will serve you well in your business journey.

7: Commit to creating the physical stamina and mental resilience needed for this venture. Even if your business seems sedentary, you’re going to need a ready supply of physical and mental energy.

8: Work with a coach. There are things you know, things you know you don’t know, and things you don’t know you don’t know. It’s the last one that makes a coach an essential element of your success plan.

An Essential Foundation

Just like being smart about how you prepare your backpack, completing this checklist before deciding to go into business will increase your odds of financial and emotional success. Unfortunately, creating this type of foundation is often the most overlooked part of starting a business. So, take the time to give yourself a clearly articulated understanding of what your assets and liabilities are, what your drivers and barriers are, and whether there are customers and support systems for what you want to do. This will not only make your success more likely, it will also greatly enhance your ability to actually enjoy the journey.

About Zette

Zette Harbour‘s an iPEC certified life and leadership coach, NLP practitioner, and an award-winning professional storyteller who helps women 49+ confidently transition from unemployed to designing a rich and rewarding business blueprint of their own in 14 weeks.

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Photo Credit: Lukas L, Unsplash.com