The Baby Bird Moment
Every entrepreneur has a baby bird moment. I know that sounds strange, but go with me here. When I was little, I found a baby bird on the ground. We named him Frederick (why Frederick? I have no idea.) Of course, I asked my mom if I could keep him. My mom, the biology nerd, explained to me that he must have survived a premature fall from his nest. She said he looked old enough to be learning how to fly. What I didn’t know at the time, was that mama birds will actually push their chicks out of the nest when they are old enough. The mama bird knows when her chicks are fully developed, and thus fully capable of flying.
The chicks, who have never left the nest, or ever even tried, don’t know that they can fly. But as soon as they are in free-fall, instinct kicks in and they fly away. At this point they are on their own, and go about their little birdie adult lives, finding mates and making nests of their own. As a little girl, all I could think about was what if they DIDN’T fly? What then? Well, I said to myself, then they end up like little Frederick. (Assuming they survived at all, but that was something my eight-year-old mind refused to contemplate.)
How Does This Relate to Entrepreneurs?
Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t just happen overnight. As I’m sure you, dear reader, are very familiar with if you are reading this, entrepreneurship really comes in stages. The idea is born first, feeling more like wishful thinking than actionable inspiration. One day one of those “man, wouldn’t it just be great if ____________ happened?” thoughts just pop into your head. The difference between wishful thinking and the seed of a business is that that little thought just won’t go away. Wishful thinking blows away eventually, like the smoke of a candle that was just put out. A real idea, however, will take root in your mind and won’t leave you alone. Not only that, it will grow. You will start to imagine all the ways you could make your idea happen, and all the ways your life would change if it did.
So What’s Next?
So, you start fleshing out the idea. You mentally run through all the different scenarios that could potentially help you reach your goal of bringing your idea into reality. At this stage, you are constantly discarding potential paths to your goal, eliminating the outlandish, unlikely, and impossible. Through much investment of time, effort, thought, (and eventually money too,) you get your idea formed into a business plan.
This is a real, actionable plan with steps laid out to reach the goal. You spend hours gleaning information, researching the market, making notes, refining and honing the idea, and getting excited about what this could mean for your future. But here’s the really hard part. This is the step that many entrepreneurs get stuck on. Taking that actual first step.
Why is the first step so hard?
No matter what the business, which niche, what kind of market, that very first step always involves a level of risk. Some are just not ready to take that risk. Maybe the business needs a financial investment from the get-go. Or maybe to do it right, you would have to quit your steady job, giving up a predictable income. Maybe it is just the risk of nights and weekends, putting your time into your new seedling business. Whatever the risk is, it is scary.
Back To Our Baby Bird…
I’m sure when the mama bird decides it is time, there are a billion things going on in the poor little chick’s head. If they could talk, I’m fairly positive they would be actively trying to talk the mama bird out of making them do this new scary thing. After all, right up until that point, they’ve had it pretty good right? The idea of having to fly around, find their own food, build their own place to live etc. is a scary idea. Granted, they can’t think or talk like that, but I’m sure a major rush of adrenaline kicks in as they peer over the edge of the nest, down at the ground waaayyyy down there. But the mama bird knows that it is necessary for their survival.
Here’s the thing…
EVERY major business was once a seedling idea in someone’s mind. And if they hadn’t just jumped in, many household names wouldn’t exist as we know it. At some point, every would-be entrepreneur has a baby chick moment. There is only so much preplanning you can do before you have to commit.
The major flaw in this analogy is that there is more often than not, no mama bird to push you into the situation where your success kicks in. Unfortunately, it’s all you. At some point, you have to decide to just jump and trust you will find your wings on the way down.
Planning has a place, as does instinct. You’ll need both to really get your business off the ground. But no amount of planning will ever make you really feel ready enough to take that first step.
My parents own their own business and have for a while. Plus my grandfather and uncle also own their own businesses, as well as my aunt on the other side of the family. I’ve spoken to all of them at one time or another about how they knew when it was finally time to bite that bullet and just do it. All of them say the same thing: there really is no magic indicator that says “GO NOW”. It is always down to a conscious decision.
In my mom’s case, she started her business at the height of the great recession. There were many sleepless nights after they opened the doors of their business, wondering if they had made a colossal mistake, and endangered their families livelihood and stability for nothing. But ultimately, her passion was evident to anyone who walked through the doors, and against the odds, they thrived. She recalls a baby bird moment, where my parents sat down and talked it through, and decided there was nothing they were really waiting for, just a sign. So, they made their own sign, and just jumped in.
Every business owner has a baby bird moment somewhere between the idea, and the implementation.
The only failures are those who never jumped, and let their ideas die. Don’t give up before you even start! What’s your baby bird moment?
Written by Emily Dominguez