You have an amazing idea. It's inspirational and on-brand. It will change lives. The PERFECT name even came to you instantaneously so it's, like, fate. But what comes next? What comes after the big bang, after casually calculating how much moolah you 'might make if...', and after a half hour in the bubble bath imagining your first appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
In the past year and a half, I've written a book, launched two Etsy stores, followed through with a colossal sewing challenge, and started an online store. I know a thing or two about moving projects forward, and I'm sharing some sage advice on how to give your big idea it's first bit of momentum, and how to keep it rolling.
And I'm doing so with quotes from The Office.
"I'm in love with Kelly Kapoor. And I don't know how I'm gonna feel tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, but I do know that right here, right now, all I can think about is spending the rest of my life with her. Again, that could change." - Ryan Howard
Genuinely love your project. Big ideas are easy come, easy go - big projects are a different story. You and a friend may plan a whole combination-doggie-daycare-bar chain over drinks one night and completely forget about it the next day. Your Big ProjectTM - the one you should take advantage of - is the nagging idea that lingers for days or weeks. If you fall in love with your project, you'll attack obstacles and setbacks with energy instead of slogging over them in misery. Leave your on-again-off-again ideas behind and pick something you can commit to.
"And I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do." - Michael Scott
Accept the learning curve. You will not know everything about accomplishing Your Big Project from the word 'go'. In fact, you will probably know exactly zero things. At first, you'll google basic stuff like 'how to get a book published' and watch tutorials on setting up your first manuscript. Later on, you'll be looking up scarily specific questions like 'ISBN on paperback and eBook the same?' and find yourself deep into a Reddit thread about international copyright laws. Ask every question. All of the questions.
“Sorry I annoyed you with my friendship.” - Andy Bernard
Join a community. On the bad side, there are 50,000 other people out there doing what you're about to do. On the good side, there are 50,000 other people out there doing what you're about to do. Seek them out, start interacting, and build friendships. Not only will you learn from them, but they can help you sidestep mistakes they've already made. Instagram circles, Facebook groups, and *gasp* in-person clubs are a great place to start networking.
"Sometimes I'll start a sentence and I don't even know where it's going. I just hope I find it along the way." - Michael Scott
Make a to-do list. The #1 challenge of completing a project is knowing where to start. Make a concrete, chronological to-do list and expand it as your idea takes shape. What is the very next manageable task you can accomplish to reach your goal? Then what? Having a plan written down will keep you from going in circles or worse, stalling out.
"I would not miss it for the world. But if something else came up I would definitely not go." - Michael Scott
Start prioritizing. Did you promise yourself that Sundays were for recording and editing your podcast? Resist the urge to blow it off for a last-minute brunch with your squad. There will always be something else you could be doing, but hold yourself accountable. Beyond that, share your goals with your friends and family; real homies will support your ambition and respect the time you commit to it.
"If I had a gun with two bullets and I was in a room with Hitler, Bin Laden and Toby, I would shoot Toby twice." - Michael Scott
Become decisive. There are a million-and-one tiny decisions that come with any large project. What color should the links on your website be? Do you want your fabric to be light beige, or a slightly lighter, slightly more beige-y-beige? I'll let you in on a super productive secret; just f***ing pick one. You can (almost) always go back and change it, and sometimes just choosing pushes you over the fence. Don't waste your energy and time hemming and hawing over every teensy detail.
“I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!” - Michael Scott
Face your finances head-on. Sure, some projects are $FREE.99 to complete. But more likely, you will have to foot the bill for supplies, software, or services. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not dive into debt because you didn't know - or were afraid to know - the true state of your bank account. There is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing some startup capital, but do so with a budget in mind. Shop around before adding anything to your cart, and be mindfully slow with your spending.
"'‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ - Wayne Gretsky' - Michael Scott" - Michael Scott
Up your photography game. (Admittedly, this was a stretch quote-to-topic-wise, but it's a classic!). Like it or not, we are very visual creatures, and social media has become a huge platform for launching a business or building brand awareness. Get comfortable snapping and sharing pictures of your process and your progress; it helps gain interest in what you're doing and, more importantly, people who follow you want to be included and engaged. Consider turning in your old phone for a newer model with a better camera, or start saving up for a nice camera and tripod kit or this cool phone mount thing.
"I am running away from my responsibilities. And it feels good." - Michael Scott
Let yourself have a break. You will inevitably hit a productivity road block. Wedding season comes, and children's soccer club starts, and life happens. For three guilt-ridden months, I let my book collect proverbial dust on my hard drive in a fit of fierce procrastination. Don't let your own looming deadline sour your day (or week or, you know, three months). Let this downtime be a chance to recharge and brainstorm, and come back to Your Big Project when you're ready with a good attitude.
With those thoughtful tips in mind, I wish you good luck on your new adventure, and leave you with one more excellent Office-ism.
"I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me." - Dwight Schrute