By Joni Foster

The first step to starting a business

One of the first questions I ask a new client is, “When do you want to open your business? Tell me a date.”

I often get a blank look from my client. “I don’t know” is not acceptable. We sit together and come up with a date because setting the date makes things fall into place.

Once my client has said the date out loud, she often gets a look on her face of excitement and terror at the same time.  Excitement because it now sounds real. Terror because she doesn’t know how to make it happen. 

Once we make the goal, though, we can start making a plan. We quickly start making a list of what must be done before that date arrives. The list starts telling us other things like what she or he needs to buy and how much money she needs to get started. If we need to adjust the date, that’s okay. We just need to make a goal to get the process started.


Goals are aspirational destinations. Goals are not what you have to do. Goals are how you know when you have arrived. Goals tell you WHY you are doing what you are doing.

Plans are your best guess today on HOW you will get to your goal. There are many “almost right” ways to get there and almost never “the perfect way” to do it. There are a few “horribly wrong” ways to get there. Horribly wrong ways are often great stories at a party five years from now.

Goals tells you the destination for your journey, but the journey will only be fun if you stay flexible along the way. If this is your first time on this journey, there is so much to see and do along the way. Set up your journey so that you don’t have to be in a rush to get to your goal.

Fail fast, fail often, fail forward.  You can’t start something new knowing how to do it.

Your best advisor is someone who has done it before. They can tell you all their mistakes so you don’t have to make them, too.

It has to be okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow.

Research, plan and go!

My husband and I moved out to the country a few years back. It was a very strange environment for us having lived in the city most of our lives. But together we had dreamed of having our little plot of land and now here we were.  Pretty quickly, we realized we didn’t know how to do all the things that this new environment required. How do we build a chicken coop? How do we fix a leaky roof? How do we keep critters out of the house?

Ten years later, here’s my recommendation for tackling new things:

  • Research: Find local folk who know more than you do; and use the internet to ask questions
  • Plan: Lay out your plan including how much it’s going to cost.
  • Action: Just do it.

The last one has been the hardest for me, being a perfectionist. I don’t want to start something new until I know exactly how to do it. Thankfully, early on, my husband and I made a pact: we weren’t going to let “not knowing” stop us from “doing”. We gave ourselves permission to fail.

I have learned to just start with what I know, make a bunch of mistakes, and do it again. We look around our property today and feel very proud at all the improvements we have made. I can also tell you stories about what didn’t work, but we had to do it wrong many times before we got it right.