1. Recognize, please, that at the heart of any creative undertaking is a gamble.
2. So, put aside your dream, all fuzzy and fantastic, and set the cold, hard plan. State the goal in a single, clear sentence. Break it into pieces, and turn each piece into an action list with deadlines and measures of success. And with this critical thinking complete, buy or barter a couple of hours of an expert or two’s time to critique it.
3. Next, acquire the tools. A budget sets the parameters on any spending but it isn’t a pair of handcuffs. A seamstress, for example, can’t do much without cloth, but I did see one once who did wonders with Handy Wipes stitched into a wild wardrobe. And there was another who made her clothing out of candy wrappers. Both had the press trailing after them, the investors not long behind.
4. Get some education. Read. Study your betters, and take advantage of what’s online. Much of it is free. Short bursts add up. Just keep them coming.
5. Then run your game, each action item managed with a ruthless eye, each piece moved strategically toward your goal. Keep track of every dime.
6. But reexamine periodically. Buy or barter help to find your blind spots. See what’s leaking cash. Learn why. This will hurt—maybe even a lot—but improvement is guaranteed.
7. Then go back to work. Make some changes. Test. Persevere.
At the end of the day, at the end of the quarter, every outgoing dollar has to count. If you can do that, it will take some risk out of your gamble. But if you can’t make an expenditure count, don’t spend the dollar.
Photo credit: dollar bill – David Siqueira; candy – Chris Chidsey, both stock.xchng