I have only a few pages left in my first-ever business-planning notebook, which I started when I began my own company. Whenever I finish a notebook, I can't help but flip back to the first page and see how long it took me to finish, and what I was working on and thinking about back then. The first pages of this notebook are full of my entrepreneurial goals from more than a year ago, when I first came up with my business idea. As I read, I was reminded of the ideas I'd come up with, jobs I'd taken on, and the ambition behind it all. Most important, though, I realized that my goals then were very different from what my goals are today.
So I find myself wondering, have I lost my way or are shifting priorities just part of the evolution of growing a business?
When I first made the decision to turn my gift wrapping blog into a gift wrapping business—a whole two days after getting fired from my job at the time—I had grand plans to start up an e-commerce site that would offer the ultimate selection of beautiful papers, ribbons and other wrapping materials. The idea quickly morphed from retailing goods from wholesalers to designing and manufacturing my own products.
Caught up as I was in the excitement of starting something new, I was convinced that I was going to be the Martha Stewart of gift wrapping—shipping around the world, selling through major retailers, making television appearances and speaking at conferences. And I wanted to do it all now.
Thing is, I didn't have the startup capital, the space to stock inventory for an online store, or the know-how to embark on such a big undertaking. Oops.
As 2011 got underway, I realized that I needed to come up with a strategy that was more realistic. I researched markets, wrote a draft business plan, applied to a government program (denied!), and did a few freelance gift-wrapping jobs. I also started to scale back on my short-term goals—like being the Martha Stewart of gift-wrapping now.
I still plan on becoming a recognized gift-wrapping expert and product designer... I just don't expect to make it all happen quite so quickly.
For now, I'm focused on a services business model—offering my expertise and skills through consulting, as well as providing wrapping and packaging services. The capital and overhead are much lower, making it a more viable strategy for me at this point. It also feels less daunting and more doable.
As I make my plans for the future, I'm going to keep this in mind: I haven't lost my way. Goals change. They always will. I will not be beholden to my business plan as it is written right now. I will look at it as an ever-evolving, living document that will be my guide as I move forward. As I gain more information and as situations change, my objectives will change. And that's okay.
Corinna vanGerwen is a creative gift-wrapping consultant, sole owner and only employee of her eponymous home-based startup, which provides gift-wrapping services, training and workshops, as well as packaging services for marketing and events.
Read Corinna's first post, "Starting Out"