It Takes a Village and Time To Incubate a Business
If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again.
-Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland, supposedly told his troops this shortly before walloping the English at Bannockburn in 1314.
Recently, I spent nine weeks in a business incubation of sorts. Named Co.Starters, it is a program that assists potential entrepreneurs in taking the first steps to pursue business endeavors. We met weekly and I gained valuable insight, and great friends while collaborating with wise individuals.
I also shifted ideas from one avenue to another, and after leaving the program, I am back to the original, with more clarity. This is often how it goes when refining a business, thus the need for an incubation period before diving into anything business start-up. I have learned this will save you time and money. A lot of money.
I am grateful for the time I had within the business incubator sessions to sit and hear others ponder the little things that makeup being a potential business owner - from the fears of accounting and legal aspects to the joys of choosing a logo and a name to the wisdom behind the reasons want to be in business in the first place.
Such wisdom was shared with me when I sat down with a business coach from the program, who said one of the missions of Co. Starters is that
The reason we go into entrepreneurship is so that we can thrive in our personal lives.
This makes my heart sing, and I am beyond grateful for that statement was shared. It also reminds me of the why of what I am trying to do here - build a business with depth that inspires others to pursue their best lives.
I went into business first in 2018 with my partner, Veronica Carmazzi, almost accidentally. We met at Yoga Teacher Training in 2014 and gravitated toward each other. This is accurately blamed on our roots of both growing up in California. Her depth and spontaneous laughter were an instant hit in my world, and to this day, I am grateful the stars aligned in the way that they did so that we could be partners in creating what today is known as Rigazzi Wellness.
I did not really know what I was getting into signing paperwork, hiring a lawyer, and talking with an accountant, but these steps have ensured that we stay afloat during the pandemic and kept us steady.
Then, I listened to what my husband talked about with his work in marketing, and I thought, hmm, I like the sound of that. Which led to my pursuit of an MBA, leaving my career in teaching Visual Art in public education. Resultantly and after a few false starts, I sit here at my desk growing a small outfit doing web design, content writing, and branding. The work has been steady to allow me time to process this thing I am creating from the ethers. I needed the time - which in total has been about three years, to solidify the what it is I do.
I also worked in an agency during my MBA program that taught me all that I needed to know about how to do the work required in a marketing realm, I worked alongside Smoke Signal Media to develop ideas for how to be a bit freer in the work that I do as a marketer, and I worked solo for the past year refining my vision for what it is I want to do when I grow up.
Spoiler alert - I doubt I will grow up, but I like to play grown-up sometimes. I say this as I wear a proper royal crown on Friday writing sessions - not a tiara, mind you...there is a difference.
After the incubation time in Co. Starters, an MBA, a solo retreat to the woods, and meetings with business coaches, I have been able to refine my vision...for now.
It takes time.
At VanWhy CoOp, we are partners in creating purposeful anthologies. I love the Beatles, and I think of their Anthology every time I write that word - and see Paul, John, Ringo, and George walking across the famous Abbey Road dressed in their fabulous late 60s suits.
Within those purposeful anthologies - I write relevant content - diving into the why with the business I am working alongside. This happens over a few weeks and ensures I embrace the work they do so that we can craft content related to the mission the business owner has. This is a beautiful process. While this happens, I am working on content, which to this point has been digitally on websites, social media platforms and speaking decks, as well as articles for sites.
The work I do is UX-inspired web design - taking the process of the customer journey into account as one navigates through a website. I work in Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, Kajabi, Shopify, and Square/Weebly. I really have not met a website that I cannot get along with.
As a result, if you are considering a website design for the first time, I have some suggestions before you buy!
Within these areas of work, a natural flow is branding. Oftentimes, business owners are so busy running their own businesses, that considering the consistency and solid brand guidelines take a backburner. And yet, many companies see growth due to this simple aspect of a company - strong branding speaks volumes about what a company does. Branding is a wonderful creation with the business owner that yields such visible results, taking a company from meh, to WOAH. Strong branding sells, and you may notice, it gets me really excited.
So, as I have refined the 'what it is that I do, I will tell you why I do it. This explanation here is to share with you what and why in hopes you gather the what and why of your endeavors.
I do this because it is creative work, and good design makes my heart sing. As someone who has worked in the art world for twenty years, it is an area of my life to which I will continue to thrive. As a result, branding and web design are a natural fit. Also, I do this because it is in my nature to help. Business owners are dynamic, beautiful souls who have so much to do.
ALL THE TIME.
While I am still a believer that word of mouth is the best marketing tool, in our digital world, you cannot survive as a business unless you have a website and develop content.
Developing content also helps you, as a business owner or aspiring business owner to refine your mission and vision.
It has taken me two false starts, a weekend retreat alone, and a business coaching session to get to the point of truly refining the work that I do, which is:
While making fun a priority, we create purposeful anthologies in a timely, relevant manner.
We tell the story of business owners as partners - we don't like to use the word client, because we are helping to grow someone else's business. We simply walk alongside and get the $h!+ done.
After reading this, I am assuming that you have an idea for a business. What have I learned in these five years as I have somewhat spun my tires refining my personal mission, as well as the work that I do, is that it takes time.
Give it time, and then give it more time. Let it incubate.
The definition spinning around the internet of a business incubator is an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections.*
With this definition, I picture little eggs under a warm light, waiting to hatch. Maybe at first, that heat lamp is too hot, so you adjust the temperature. It takes a moment to find the right process to incubate chicks properly, as it does to formulate a business concept. And while you do this, there are beautiful resources for assisting you, such as a local Chamber, or Entrepreneur Center. Many times, these resources are free!
And while having this knowledge is helpful to get started in business, it is also very helpful to sit with yourself and allow yourself be your guide. Training is vital, but you know in your heart the best steps forward. You're an intelligent person and chances are if you made it this far, you already have an idea for a great business!
From experience, give it time. Try and then try again, as Robert the Bruce said, and then, once you get grounding in your idea, storm that castle, Scottish style. Kilt not required.