Overcoming Overwhelm to Launch Your First Small Business

Henry Lopez - Small Business Coach
Henry Lopez – Host, The How of Business Podcast

Start smaller to help with overcoming the overwhelm that leads to paralysis and keeps you from launching your first small business. Henry Lopez, host of The How of Business podcast, shares his insights, experiences and tips to help you overcome the seemingly overwhelming process of starting your first business. By starting with a Lean Canvas approach to planning, and the MVP approach to launching, you are more likely to get started and achieve early successes that can lead to a successful long-term small business.

Notes from Henry’s thoughts shared on this episode of The How of Business podcast – the best business podcast to help you start, run and grow your small business – on Overcoming Overwhelm to Launch Your First Small Business:

How do you launch your first business? How do you get past being stuck with what you believe is a good idea, and the limited resources, but just don’t know how to get started? Often what happens is you get overwhelmed with all that you have to do, and that leads to paralysis.

You also may simply be battling your mindset. You are not quite sure about this risk. You don’t have the confidence to move forward to launch your first small business.

The truth about confidence that most of us often miss, however, is that you can’t wait around for it to manifest itself in your life. It won’t happen! Instead, what we have to muster is the COURAGE to take action, one step at a time, and that then turns into confidence over time. Particularly if we can achieve small successes.

This leads me to a conversation I had recently with a coaching client and business associate. He was trying to make a decision on moving forward with a big marketing campaign to fuel the growth he is planning for. He was a bit paralyzed by trying to make this decision – trying to make the one right home run decision! Instead, I asked him if taking that same marketing budget, and spreading it over two or three campaigns might not be better. Instead of going for one home run, you would instead be looking for three strong singles or doubles, to continue with my overused baseball analogy.

The point is that we don’t know if the risk we are about to take, be it launching our first small business or investing in a new marketing campaign, will produce success. So, why not break it up into more achievable pieces and spread our risk?

When it comes to launching your first small business, what I find that keeps people stuck talking about starting a business, is that you can easily get overwhelmed with all that has to be done to get started!

But let’s take a step back first. It may be that your overwhelm is simply that you may not be quiet ready to launch your first small business. I have talked about this quite often on this show. I believe you have to be Ready, Willing and Able to launch your first business – and most of it has to do with your mindset – although some of it is also your personal financial readiness.

Are You Ready to start your first small business?

So if you are ready, how can you overcome overwhelm and paralysis and move forward with launching your first business? The biggest mistake I observe is that people want to start too big. They want to launch their fully realized dream almost on day one. That’s hard to do, particularly with limited resources.

Overcoming Overwhelm to Launch Your First Small Business: The approach I recommend instead, is that you start smaller, like really small, and then grow over time. If you have been listening to this show for some time now, you probably know that is often the advice of many of my expert guests. The challenge is that people often have a hard time breaking down their dream into more achievable steps.

One method I recommend in particular if the Lean Canvas approach to planning, and the MVP approach to launching:
Lean Canvas:

  • The Original Business Model Canvas was developed by Alex Osterwalder.
  • Some people argue that formal business plans are outdated and nobody reads them. That’s not necessarily true. It depends on your audience and objective. A lender or investor, for example, will probably want to see a traditional Business Plan or at least a traditional Executive Summary and a Financial Proforma for your proposed small business.
  • The Lean Canvas is great for internal planning purposes.
  • There are plenty of examples of highly successful business that started with no formal business plan (i.e. Southwest Airlines) and other that started with a more elaborate university projects (i.e. Dell, FedEx).
  • Advantages of the Lean Canvas approach include: supports quick launch and iteration, avoids writing a lengthy document that no one reads, avoids the analysis paralysis that often comes with long business planning and trying to launch a fully developed small business.

Here is a secret, unless you are buying an existing business, or perhaps a franchise where the business model is proven, your best plans are nothing but just that, plans! Only until you launch will you really know if your idea has a market and if your business model is sound!

Instead, start with your MVP – Minimum Viable Product or Prototype. I first became aware of the MVP approach in my experiences with software development. The idea is to create the first minimal version of something, learn from the market response, iterate and then move on to MVP 2 and so forth until you reach a certain level of business maturity. Some examples of the MVP approach may include:

  • Restaurant/Food Item – start by selling at local venues, then perhaps a pop-up or a food trailer…
  • Retail Store – start with a small online store to validate your esthetics and develop your merchandizing skills before opening a physical location with a long-term lease.
  • Develop the first basic version of a software solution or app, get feedback from your early adopters and then iterate fast but in achievable increments.

This approach is what allows you to “fail fast”, because failure is less like to be catastrophic.

Overcoming Overwhelm to Launch Your First Small Business:

The approach I recommend to launching your first small business is to start small, gather feedback and validate, iterate, and continue growing slowly. This minimizes your risk and exposure, but more importantly, it allows you to validate your idea before committing to build the business long-term. It allows for a potential adjustment, or failure, of your business model and the flexibility to recover and move forward with realizing your dreams of becoming an entrepreneur!

Episode Host: Henry Lopez is a serial entrepreneur, small business coach, and the host of this episode of The How of Business podcast show – dedicated to helping you start, run and grow your small business.


Other Podcast Episodes:

Here a few related episodes of The How of Business podcast:

Episode 292: Are You READY To Start Your Business

Episode 296: Are You WILLING To Start Your Business

Episode 309: Are You ABLE To Start Your Business

Episode 265: Dealing with Overwhelm


You can find other episodes of The How of Business podcast, the best small business podcast, on our Archives page.


This episode of The How of Business podcast is sponsored by Freightos.


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