Step 1: The Decision
We all have a few moments in life where clarity becomes so obvious that we must move forward and take action or else our lives will be miserable.
My moment came at an abandoned gas station in Zimbabwe in 2007. I met a starving young orphan and my life was interrupted forever. I found my WHY; you must also find yours.
The "Why" Always Comes Before the "How"
I meet with a lot of folks who want to start an organization, church, nonprofit or business. They're infatuated with starting something and a lot of the times it scares me -- because they have no conviction.
They simply don't know WHY they are starting what they are starting and usually, they will fail. Truth be told, starters are not normal people. They are fanatics; they carry a certain intensity that drives most people crazy!
These pioneers are considered unbalanced, workaholics, laser focused and a little insane - because they are. That is what it takes to start something from scratch and this is the DECISON that I'm talking about.
These people have found their WHY. When you find your WHY, you will also find your way. They are fully committed to seeing this dream become tangible and they will do whatever it takes to make happen, because their WHY create a clear pathway.
Are You ALL In?
If you watch Shark Tank (yes, I’m a geek), you will notice a question the sharks ask over and over before they invest in an idea: "Are you all in?"
Are you willing to work from 5AM to 9PM (for a season)?
Are you eventually willing to leave behind the security and comfort of a consistent salary, 401ks, health insurance and other consistent benefits?
In the dreaming phase, will you work in the early mornings and late into the night before you go full time?
Is your family on board and do they understand the costs? Because it will cost everybody something.
Are you willing to invest your own capital?
Are you okay if everything fails? (This is big)
If you can't say yes to those above questions, then you have not made a decision. You do not have the necessary clarity and conviction you need to launch something, scale it and sustain it for the long haul.
Trust me -- it's actually better to not start anything. Look, this is okay; it's not a bad thing at all. It will save you much heartache and pain. Clarity is your friend and until you are clear, use caution!
Make a Decision and Then Create a Transition Plan
On the plane from Cape Town to Austin, two days after I met the young orphan boy, I did nothing but write in my Moleskine for 40 hours. I knew that I knew -- everything was going to change for me.
When I returned home, I begin to put together a plan and then for one year, I worked the plan. I was obsessed, but I also used wisdom and leveraged my community to help guide me and create necessary guardrails so my passion would not move me to make bad decisions.
In that one year, I created a foundation to launch. And that is what these 7 steps are all about - building that foundation pre-launch.
Created a Plan
It took a full year, but I begin to work on Help One Now in the early mornings and late at night. I did tons of research, short- and long-term strategic planning (18 months & 20 + years), budgets, legal planning and key meetings.
Processed my Personal Strengths
I used this time to asses my own talent and skill level. I met with key experts in my industry. I wanted to make sure I was a good fit to lead a nonprofit or if it would be better if I joined another nonprofit.
Started Down the Path to Become an Expert
I wanted to become an expert as quickly as possible. I begin to devour all the information I could on dealing with issues of extreme poverty, how I could make an impact, and how to lead a successful organization. Because of this research, I begin to gain clarity on what to do and what not to do. I was shaping my worldview and defining the strategy before I launched into the wild.
You must become an expert in your craft; this is a foundational decision.
I begin to put together some key investors who would help launch the organization. Money moves the mission forward and it does not matter if it's a church, business or nonprofit — we all need capital. Being broke is simply a bad move. If you can’t raise the capital you need, then you can’t launch the organization. (We will discuss this in a few weeks.)
Developed a Team
I rallied a team of people who would help launch the organization. We have three types of team members: doers (built websites), donors (invested funds), and advocates (told our story).
Became a Problem Solver
Ultimately, starters are problem solvers. It's in our DNA - we're so mad at an issue that we can't help but attempt to solve it .
I wanted to solve the issues of extreme poverty and the global orphan crisis.
Scott Harrison wanted to solve the clean water crisis .
Twitter wanted to solve a communication problem.
Evernote wanted to solve how we collect and store information.
Apple wanted to solve problems through innovation.
If you’re not solving a problem, you won’t have an audience or a market.
The question you must ask is this:
The Why - What problem do you want to solve?
The How - How will you solve that problem?
The Who - Who will help you solve that problem?
The When - In what timeframe do you want to solve the problem? (If someone else solves the problem before you, you may never need or get to launch. Don't be late to the party. If you are, you need to innovate.)
Action Steps: Do You have Clarity?
I would encourage you to add an appointment to your calendar right now!
Title: Do I Have Clarity?
Time: 1 Hour
When: THIS week
Take this one hour and ask yourself if you have clarity.
If you've started already, do you have the conviction to continue and do you understand the WHY behind what you are doing? If not, you need to pause and process the WHY. For further study, you can also read Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why or listen to his Ted Talk.
If you're considering starting something new, ask this question: Will I be content if I don't start this organization? If you say “Yes,” go back to your day job.
If you say “No,” then read next week's newsletter and let the journey begin.
Thanks for reading. I believe in you, we need each other, and together, we can do good and make the world a little better.
PS: Every Sunday, I will send the next newsletter directly to your inbox; make sure you sign up for updates here.