I made my first million without a computer!

I know this sounds good but it might make you think I am ancient! It really wasn’t that long ago that technology rapidly changed the world of small business in some very big ways. Making It Big (MIB), the company I began in 1984, was a direct to consumer retail and mail order business. I don’t remember exactly when we got our first computer but it was sometime in the late 80’s and was only used for bookkeeping and accounting. When we started using computers companywide there was no Windows operating system and you might remember those DOS commands and black screen with orange type-very scary! For me, it was easier to do most things manually rather than tangle with that complex machine. Before computers and before I started MIB, I had another successful business, Cheap Frills, a brick and motor retail store selling antique clothing and textiles. It was a very profitable six figure business and it was where I learned, through trial and error, how to put systems in place, keep financial and inventory records, to hire and fire employees, what I’ll call basic business skills. These abilities were essential to my success in crafting Making It Big into a multimillion dollar company.

Today, with the foundations that technology provides, building a business looks so simple! And you are being told it is easy. There are solutions/programs/coaching for every stage of starting and growing a business. It is promised that if you only “do this” or “do that” you’ll achieve prosperity and success. The reality is that building a business takes time. The statistic I like is the 3-5 year window for a business to reach profitability and financial stability (or go bust). Some of us believe we will be the exception to this rule but like the lottery, very few of us will pay a dollar and become a millionaire.

One common misconception is that building an online business is easier, cheaper and faster than building local. Building business is building business, no matter how you go about it! Yes, there are different steps involved in different types of businesses, but regardless of the kind of business, you need to have a plan, a timeframe, resource allocation and a basic understanding of how to put one foot in front of the other.

Every week I talk with at least one woman who has jumped ahead (which usually involves spending a lot of money) and signed up for something she believes will get her business off the ground or to the next level. I talk with innumerable women who have never utilized the business building programs they enrolled in because ultimately the programs weren’t right for them-they were too much, too little, too soon, too late, not what they thought it would be…And, on top of this, they end of with lots of credit card debt.

What’s my point? If you are on a fast track and have the resources (time, money and energy) to support business growth, slow down long enough to take ALL the steps, not just the ones that appear bright and shiny or are being sold by an excellent sales person. The three-five year window I mentioned earlier is very real and understanding this timeframe will support you in building the business of your dreams.

And remember, even though technology has made many things much easier, it is not the be-all and end-all of building a successful business.