5 things I did to start

If you're not familiar with the story of how we began Naptime Diaries Shop and moved into full time business, I won't bore you with the details but I will tell you - it was haphazard at best. When we opened our print shop on Etsy in March of 2011, we didn't really know what a print shop was or who would buy paper with pictures on it. We were hoping that it might at least fund our date nights. 

Ten months later we found ourselves living (by faith) on our printshop income alone. We thought we'd give it a try so that Nick could pastor without taking a salary and we weren't really sure if it would work. Six months later it was still working, and now - almost three years later, we're kind of in awe. Now that we've gone on to start other businesses and begin other endeavors, we can look back and see some steps we took in the beginning that really, really helped. The freedom that came from not having a grand plan really helped us so much and I long to give that freedom to women who are hesitating over a big desire. 

If you have an idea, a business plan, a product, a book, or a dream burning in your heart - I want to share with you. Here are five things I did to just START. 

1. Ask someone who knows. 
For me, starting the print shop - I didn't go to some mega expert and ask if I was an okay designer. I didn't ask only my sister who would love anything I make. I asked someone right in the middle - someone who knew what women in my target market liked and had her pulse on the handmade world. For me, that person was Danielle Burkleo and I'll always be crazy grateful for her voice. I emailed her some of my designs, she said SELL THOSE. I listed them on Etsy, she was our first customer, and the rest is history. Thank you Danielle! 

Share your idea, maybe not with an expert and maybe not with someone who will support any and every idea you have. Pick someone right in the middle who will give you an honest answer. Pick someone in your target market for sure. I still do this in small ways by emailing a target market of blog readers each month making sure I'm on track. 

2. Get a partner. 
I call Hayley my business partner as a loose term, even though she's so much more. There would be no Influence conference or Influence Network if it wasn't for Hayley - I wouldn't have had those ideas or known the first step to capitalize on them. But even outside of Influence, I consider Hay my partner in other areas of business. Even though she's not a Naptime Diaries employer, she helps me a lot with the print shop and helps me process ideas about my blog. I do the same for her for The Tiny Twig and her other endeavors. 

Jacey, our shop manager, has been another huge blessing in this area. Just having someone that I know I can rely on to bounce ideas around with or try a crazy new product with makes me feel so much less scared. I know in the end that I'm not alone. 

3. Make a decision about competition.
I can't make decisions for you, but I highly suggest you make an important decision about competition. The decision I made? There is none. Let me explain. Am I oblivious to the fact that there are other scripture print shops, christian women conferences, or Charleston church plants? No, I'm really not. But I've made a decision deep in my head and heart that I won't treat other business like competition in that I won't feel threatened by them or make decisions about my business/endeavor in a reactionary way. That doesn't mean I'm not bummed when I feel like my designs have been copied or when someone comes out with a product that is super similar. But I do try to push through those feelings, I spend time praying for like-minded businesses or endeavors, and I believe that if God called them to it and me to it - He is ultimately in control.

Don't get hung up on competition. Don't do things because everyone is doing them and don't hinder yourself from doing things because they're already being done. Ask God what He wants you to do, keep your eyes on Him. I highly suggest that whatever you're considering starting, you don't scour the similar things first. There are always going to be people doing your idea, there is nothing new under the sun. If He called you to it, you have no competition. 

4. Pray. 
If you have a relationship with Jesus, you have a direct leg up in whatever it is you're considering doing. You need to remember TODAY that you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you and a Father who deeply wants to give you guidance. James 1:5 says that if any of us lack wisdom, we should ask God who gives generously. 

Do. Stop and pray. Ask for confirmation, ask for outside wisdom. If you have the craziest idea in America, but complete assurance that it's what God wants from you & wise Godly people around you agree, do it. If you have a winning idea that seems perfectly good and yet, your heart is unsettled about it - pause and ask Him why. I have a few endeavors I've been involved in that made GREAT sense. But because they made such good sense on paper, I didn't stop to really seek the Lord about them and I made the wrong choice getting involved in them. Always, always pray. 

5. Lastly, press play. 
Stalling can be one of the worst ways to kill a business, idea, or dream. If you've got a good friend, you've asked the right people, your eyes are on Jesus and you've prayed about it - what are you waiting for? Just do it. Take the first step and get over the fear and just try. You know the old saying - a year from now, you'll wish you'd started today. 

And now I want to hear from y'all!
What are things you need to start? 
What's your first step?