Can You Just Jump Into Business?

Many people have a tendency to make things a lot harder on themselves than those things need to be.  Are you one of those people?

When I started my business, I just took my life and work experience and merged them, wrote some copy for my website and viola, I was in business.  Okay, there was a bit more involved, like creating visibility.  That was more time consuming than it was difficult.  The difficult part for me was learning how to do all the online technical stuff like getting a Word Press site up and running.  I’ve never actually been a tech person so there was  a steep learning curve.

Learn I did though.  I learned as I moved forward with my business, never letting the fact that I didn’t know how to do something stop me.  I got help.

I’m a big believer in just jumping off the cliff into the abyss of whatever it is I want to do.  It’s scary, but it’s really exhilarating, sort of like skydiving or belaying down the side of a mountain.  (The caption on the picture, in case it’s cut off, says To jump off a cliff, he jumped).

There are certainly different degrees of easy and difficulty in starting a business, depending on what type of business you want.  Turning your hobby into a business is relatively easy.  Here’s a three step plan for becoming  a professional photographer:












Really, that’s good advice.  A teacher in my life used to say that “it’s just as easy to act as if,” meaning that you should just act the part that you want to play as if it’s already a reality and it will become a reality a lot faster.

So hone up on your acting skills and jump off that cliff into whatever business you want.

About the Author

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. - August 27, 2012

Hmm. That explains a lot of my competition, Julia. They put a bunch of numbers of the paper, tell potential clients they are tax experts and CFO advisors- and voila, they get the gig (since they charge $ 50, to boot). And, then, we get besmirched when the (idiotic) client complains that “all these guys” are unqualified.
Or, a kid out of high school claims to be a product designer, since he made a balsa wood airplane (or something similar). Charges (another idiotic) client $ 250 for a new product design that doesn’t work. And, then we are told “none of you guys” know a thing about product design.

I don’t mind not getting the idiotic clients. I just mind getting lumped in (when they tweet, post, eMail) with the jerks they chose to (not) help them.
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    Julia - August 27, 2012

    I feel your pain Roy. There are a lot of “quacks” working with youth as well. I certainly didn’t mean this for the more professional businesses. It is really geared toward turning your hobby into a business, or using something that you know very well, just as I used my 20 years of experience working with youth, all my education and my personal experiences to start my business. I didn’t have to learn about my profession – I had to learn the technical aspects of having a business on the internet.

    I thought I had made that clear with my explanation about how I used my own experience and knowledge to start a business.

Debbie - August 27, 2012

How do I jump off the cliff?
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    Julia - August 27, 2012

    What business are you trying to build Debbie? Seems like having a blog is a good first jump off the cliff.

      Debbie - August 28, 2012

      I am trying to build a L’BRI skincare business. IT is aloe based skincare that is healing to the skin. On my blog I talk about aloe and eating healthy and mental health. ie spending time with family and by yourself.
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        Julia - August 28, 2012

        Debbie, I’ll read your blog tomorrow and private message you.

Alan Miles - August 27, 2012

I have to say, Julia, I’ve never found it quite as easy as that! If you’re going to survive, you need more than self-confidence and a good idea. As Roy suggests, you can fool some of the people …. but not for long. And jumping off the cliff is exhilarating – till you hit the ground. I’m all for people jumping, but after proper training, and with a parachute that really works.
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    Julia - August 27, 2012

    So when I put this in the next book, I’ll certainly bring more clarity to the writing. As I said to Roy, I meant this for turning a hobby into a business or creating a business with skills and knowledge that you already have. 🙂

      Alan Miles - August 28, 2012

      I know you will Julia 🙂 And as you know, I’m all for people taking the jump … as long as they’ve taken proper precautions, and for many that will mean having an experienced counsellor and affordable support services with them every step of the way. For me, it was having a business partner with me on my first project who’d already been running his own business for several years – he taught me the ropes.

      It doesn’t need to be as hard as people pretend: there’s lots that you don’t need to do in your first months, especially if you take a lean start-up approach. But even so, I think we have to be really careful to let people know what they’re in for. I guess that’s why, in my blog, I’m describing failures as well as successes. It’s normal.
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        Julia - August 28, 2012

        It must be the weather Alan. I did say I had help with what I didn’t know. Must be the Twilight Zone.

          Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. - August 28, 2012

          I’m with Alan on this one. Sorry I did not read it that way!
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          Julia - August 28, 2012

          It’s okay Roy, that’s what life is about. I have a lot of friends that I don’t see eye to eye with, however, we are still friends. It’s all about civil discourse. Which our politicians should learn and practice more.

Mary Muse - August 27, 2012

What a beautiful blog. When riding your horse over a jump there’s a saying, “throw your heart over the fence and the horse will follow.” I think I’ve been hesitating at the fence and need to re-learn how to throw my heart over and just follow it. 🙂 But I’m learning.
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    Julia - August 27, 2012

    Thank you Mary, I appreciate your comments. It’s about taking a leap of faith. So I say to you, you go girl, take everything you know and make that jump.

Yvonne - August 28, 2012

I like the topic…take action, make it happen… nicely done

    Julia - August 28, 2012

    That’s one of the point’s Yvonne. The other is “don’t make it more complicated than it is, just go for it.” And do I mean that people should get help with what they don’t know. Thank you for your comments.

Chef William - August 28, 2012

Knowing where you are going with this, as a kind of extension to helping younger people get started in life, I must agree with you. Jump off the cliff, put both feet into the water, press forward. There are a lot of people in life that have started more than one business, didn’t make it but did learn from it and because they did jump in,again and again, ending up becoming very successful after a few tries. But they had to get started sometime.
And I do have someone that helps me with my techie stuff. Thanks for sharing.
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    Thank you for your comments and support Chef William. It must have been the weather yesterday because I approved and responded to you comments but it was still pending as of a few minutes ago and my reply disappeared. Very odd.

    You got it exactly as I intended it. It is geared toward young people and monetizing their hobbies. One of my young clients was an avid skateboarder and I helped him start an online retail store selling skateboards and accessories. He was a good artists and designed his own tee shirt art for skateboarders as well. That’s the level I was aiming for.

Nanette Levin - August 28, 2012

I think even with youth, there’s a benefit to working for it.

My first entrepreneurial endeavor was at the age of ten as a paper route carrier. This was at a time when girls weren’t generally in the mix. Some (OK, most) would have classified me as a pain. I called every week to ask about openings. I wanted it so bad I was willing to do what it took to wear down the managers. They finally relented. I was fastidious in how I handled the route in appreciation. Of course, the end story is better – I invested the income into a money market account (paying 14% at the time) that paid for the land banks wouldn’t finance for the farm property my husband and I bought many years later.
Investing was one of the best lessons I learned from this early ‘leap.’

As an adult, I’ve regretted the leaps I’ve made (lessons learned the hard way) without research, education and consideration. Although I tend to trust my gut, business success takes more. I’ve learned from bad decisions, but don’t view those mistakes as stellar moments. Even with kids, there’s a benefit to spending time understanding the market, demands and passion driving you to succeed.

I can relate to what Roy is saying. I also understand the intent of your message. With the youth I’m seeing coming into the US job market these days, it would serve them well to have the teaching expanded beyond the current ‘positive reinforcement’ messages that seem to be producing aimless, pleasure seeking transients.
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your story Nanette. It never occurred to me that this little post would create such controversy. I love a good conversation.

Cathy - August 28, 2012

I think it goes both ways, starting a business is almost always a gamble. A true entrepreneur enjoys that part. The worrisome part for me is that there seems to be a lot of people deciding to go into business without the appropriate expertise. I have run into some lately. Designers who think it is all romantic and fun…who create real problems by not being trained in human needs, ergonomics or safety. Web designers who decide that since they set up a WordPress site for themselves, that they are suddenly an expert…then tried to bill me even though she couldn’t figure out how to finish the job. It is really important that people have a viable value to offer in their business. On the other hand, there are people who never start their business because of fear…or not the right time…etc. this was a provocative post.
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    Thank you for weighing in Cathy. As I said to Nanette, it never occurred to me that the post would be so provocative. I’m glad it was though, it’s always good to have a conversation and look at all sides.

Emily - August 28, 2012

This was an interesting post and I’m a little torn in terms of how to respond.

On one hand, I love the idea of taking a hobby and turning it into a business and jumping courageously into the unknown. On the other hand, I think that a lot of people will read this as a “fake it to make it” type of message or will jump in head first off the diving board only to find there’s no water in the swimming pool, which bothers me a lot.

I think that it might be a good idea to clarify that taking the risk and following your dreams is a great thing to do, but still make sure you plan and learn and know what you are getting into as much as possible and that you don’t end up doing something unethical or even illegal depending on the field in terms of representing experience.

Honestly, I think the illustrated quote does the most to harm your message in the post, because I would be really angry if I paid a photographer thousands of dollars who represented themselves a professional and all they had for experience was taking pictures of shadows (now granted I would do research and find that out and not hire them in the first place), but that’s just not sound business advice regardless of whether you are turning a hobby into a business or actually turning a college degree into a business or taking years of experience in a field and turning that into a business. Misrepresentation is bad business no matter what you are trying to do. Does that make sense? Sorry for my long book sized comment.

Please understand this is just my opinion and I do love the idea of people feeling confident enough to turn a hobby into a business, I’d just like to see them be successful at it, which takes a lot more than just jumping in head first. I also like the post itself a lot, just had a few concerns about it, especially the illustrated quote picture, because it changed the meaning of the post itself for me.
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    The most interesting thing to me about the responses to this post is the varying ways in which it was preceived. I realize now that my message was not specific enough and therefore did not come across as I meant it to. To me, that graphic was was geared toward those who take photos as a hobby, see themselves as artists and would like to be known as professional photographers as their art. I wasn’t intending that for people who want to be wedding photographers or any other specialty that requires special skills with their equipment and a trained eye.

    The main message was that people often make it much harder for themselves to go into business as it is and to stop doing that to yourself – just take action and go for it.

    Some people see it like I did and some people don’t – a good reminder to me to be more careful about that in future posts. And I will most certainly rewrite that for the next book.

    Thank you for comments Emily. And a reminder in return to everyone – BUY BEWARE. Since there are a lot of frauds and cons in the world, take extra precaution to make sure they are legitimate. And use Angie’s list to see what other people are saying, check the better business bureau and do you due diligence when hiring. It’s a lot harder on the web. I also had a bad experience with a web person who out and out lied about her ability. She was someone I knew and liked and I believed her. That little mistake set me back a year, but it was my own fault.

      Nanette Levin - August 28, 2012

      I wonder if we hired the same ‘web person,’ Julia. This one was a referral from a search (we had no prior direct contact). Same story – misrepresented abilities, horrible communications and a long time to clean up the mess. My partner was equally aghast by what was and wasn’t done as were the other vendors involved. My gut was telling me for months it wasn’t right but I felt compelled to stick with this person due to an upfront payment. Dumb. Lesson learned.
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        Julia - August 28, 2012

        I’m sure there are a lot of people out there like that. You and I were just unfortunate enough to have found two of them. The one I hired thought she could get away with seeming like the real deal because she had signed up with some company who was running this website deal using Word Press. The guy she was working with flaked on her and she couldn’t find someone else to cover so she got busted big time. I had to start from scratch. I had excellent help after that happened and I’ll take this opportunity to give thanks and kudos to both Paul Taubman and Michelle Shaeffer. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

Kama - August 28, 2012

I am well educated and have an abundance of life experiences but I hesitated for a long time before I jumped off the cliff. I believed I needed more education and just a bit more … oh and if I just add that … then I will be ready. I personally believe we are never 100% ready so at some stage we just have to jump and learn along the way. I have learnt more in my past two years of failures and successes than I ever learnt getting my degrees. Do I regret jumping? Not at all because in business we don’t only grow professionally, we also grow personally. Do I have a thriving business? I am only just getting there, but with more to offer now than I ever did before I made that jump.
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    That’s it exactly Kama. Some people have a tendency to stand behind their excuses and the things they lack rather than just make the commitment to start that business they want to have. I just jump head first into what I want to do and it usually works out fine. Thank you for leaving your comments.

The Great Gordino - August 28, 2012

Nice post Julia!
I view it more as a mental jump rather than the literal business jump some other commenters have seen.

We can so easily stop ourselves mentally by making things seem so difficult as you say, when in fact if we just did it, we’d find it wasn’t as bad as we thought!

It’s a mental trick I have written about many times, and it can be really powerful!
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    Thank you for your comments Gordon. It is a mental jump, however, I also meant to as a call to action to really get that business started. I will add a disclaimer to the post before it goes in the next book to be in integrity with their skills and not over represent themselves or outright lie about where they are with their abilities to get the job done.

Amethyst Mahoney - August 28, 2012

I love this post, Julia. Sometimes all you need to add to your expertise is a little faith and a big jump. As far as complaints of others who are not doing it right and muddying the field, while that is true in some cases, in many cases it is perception.

There are several people (some of whom have been doing what I do for half the number of years or less) who hate the way I do things and call me a scammer and a charlatan. They “know” their way is the right way, and of course my way is terrible. Whatever.

While it’s different for some things like taxes and finishing websites, there are a lot of varying degrees out there on most subjects. Don’t be afraid to jump in. It’s the only way you learn to be better and to solidify your opinions on the best way to do things.
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    Julia - August 28, 2012

    Thank you Amethyst, I appreciate your comments. The other thing that some didn’t remember here is that this post is meant for young people – teens and twenty-somethings. And it is going to be just one post among many in a book that will stress positive intention and integrity.

    I think you’ve done amazing things since your jump.

shivie - August 28, 2012

Wow what a lot of comments, how awesome you found a can of worms and the birds are going crazy for them!

I think like Gordon said many people get stuck in the mindset or waiting til they have one more training etc. That mindset keeps them trapped and they cannot take the physical leap to action.

I read you article as though it is speaking someone who has skills yet may think they need more to offer it to the world…

You hit a hot topic, congrats and thanks for sharing

    Julia - August 28, 2012

    Thank you Shivie, I appreciate you weighing in as well. I do love a spirited conversation which this happens to be.

Lena - August 29, 2012

I agree! I think it’s about knowing what you want and going for it! Thanks for the inspiration.
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    Julia - August 29, 2012

    Thank you weighing in Lena. I’m so happy to hear you found this inspiring.

Amy Putkonen - August 29, 2012

Wow, Julia. Did you step on a landmine? lol…

I think it really depends on the subject. There are some subjects that can be learned on one’s own (self taught) and they don’t pursue it, even though they might be really good at it, because they don’t have the right piece of paper to “prove” that they are good enough.

On the other hand, we have a lot of people out there touting their wares with no idea what they are doing.

Like anything, you need to ask questions, investigate and follow your gut instincts. If you are offering your services, just be honest with people about where you are at. We all have to start somewhere.
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    Julia - August 29, 2012

    I so agree Amy, we all have to start somewhere and I am all about being in integrity with where you are.

    Landmines of this kind are great though, don’t you think? Look at how many people have weighed in. 🙂

      Amy Putkonen - August 31, 2012

      I think so, too. I just love this discussion and the opposing viewpoints bring up some very valid points. I think that we all understand what you meant to say, but there is a lot to the other conversation as well.

      I love that you are encouraging people to pursue a side business. I would never have started translating the Tao Te Ching if I had let the belief that I am not qualified enough stop me. Many Chinese scholars would scoff at my translation, but as I read through the variety of translations that are out there, I am confident that mine is good. I have studied the principles of Tao for most of my adult life and they are the kind of thing that you really just know in your gut anyways. I feel that way about photography and art as well. Some people just get it. They see things that the rest of us overlook. If someone has that talent, they should pursue it. I think that the best retirement is the one where you just keep doing what you love to do, when you want to do it.

      Thanks for all you do.
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        Julia - August 31, 2012

        Thank you Amy. My post turned out to be that gift that keeps on giving 🙂

Annie - August 29, 2012

I loved your post, and did not perceive it the way some others have. My parents started their own business, and were somewhat successful for a long time, but neither had direct knowledge about opening their own business. I am leaving my long-time profession next year, and am interested in starting my own business (probably microbusiness). I never considered it before, thinking I needed an MBA or something, but after considering my skills and options, it seems more and more do-able. I’m excited about the opportunities!
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    Julia - August 29, 2012

    Thank you Annie. I love that you are thinking about starting your own business. Is it too soon to ask what that business will be? Please let me know if there is any way I can support you. good luck, I’m excited for you.

Kim (Mirror Moon Tarot and Coaching) - August 30, 2012

I get the concern of fake-it-’til-you-make-it, but I think your big point here is trying to kill all the overwhelm. If what you’re doing isn’t working, or you don’t have a talent for it, you’ll find as you go what you need. Continuing to educate yourself and expand what you do should be a part of your practice anyway. But the biggest thing should always be to get started and keep going – Amethyst posted a macro of it that I love. “Do it even though you suck.” It’s always easy to come up with why you’re inadequate, but like most things in life, especially with the high school crowd you’re talking to, no one cares quiiite as much as you do about how terrible you think you are.

    Julia - August 30, 2012

    Thank you for stopping by and weighing in Kim. I did think it would be clear that I meant this for kids. They aren’t going to be building businesses as accountants and lawyers. More than likely they will be tee shirt picture designers or other kind of artist or sell something that relates to their current passion. And yes, as Amethyst said, “Do it even though you suck.” Learn as you go, just stop making excuses about why you aren’t ready.

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