How often do you find yourself what-iffing? I'd hazard a guess that it happens daily. I guess it's only natural, especially when contemplating on doing something new and scary. What I'm going to suggest here, is that you turn that what-iffing into a way to motivate and inspire yourself. I want you to try to use it as a tool to direct your imagination towards your goals, instead of letting it stall your progress.
Usually our what ifs circle around negative scenarios, ‘what if I'm not good enough', ‘what if I can't get any clients', ‘what if I fail', etc. but you can turn your what-iffing on its head and start asking questions such as ‘what if I did things differently and stood out', ‘what if I got all I wanted' or ‘what if I have something important to offer that no-one else can'.
You can get a lot more specific with your what-iffing, and hopefully come up with completely new and fresh ways to look at your challenges. The most important thing is to give your imagination free reign, and let go of any judgement, just let even the silliest what-ifs come to the surface, you never know where a diamond lies. Here are a few guidelines:
1. Get clear on your challenge.
As with all problem-solving and idea-generation techniques, they work best if you concentrate on one specific challenge at a time. Let's say your challenge is ‘How would I attract clients?'.
2. List as many what-ifs as you can, how ever crazy they might seem.
You'll probably start with more conventional what-ifs, but let your imagination go further. ‘What if I personally knocked on every door', ‘What if I sent potential clients cupcakes', ‘What if I organised a pyjama party as a networking event', ‘What if I wrote poems and left them at bus stops', ‘What if all my clients were fish', ‘What if there were no cameras involved', ‘What if my office was a bouncy castle'.
3. Try to answer the questions you come up.
Let's take one of the more out there ones, and see if we can come up with answers to ‘What if all my clients were fish'. You could be a pet fish photographer. There are pet photographers, but are there photographers who specialise in taking beautiful images of pet fish? Being the first in a field usually always pays off. Or perhaps you could offer a new photo booth where people dress up as fish. Or maybe you could write your website copy from a point of view of all your clients being varied as fish, and how you're excited to photograph them who ever they are, how you can see the beauty in the tropical and in the plain. Or perhaps the fish could simply be a metaphor for you to have faith in the fact that there's plenty of fish in the sea, and that there will be enough clients for you.
Or how about considering the characteristics of fish? Fish need regular feeding, they need a nice environment to keep them from being bored, fish have a good sense of sight, smell and touch, fish feel pain and suffer stress just as mammals do, fish can drown if there's not enough oxygen in the water.
Does this line of what-iffing give you any new ideas for how you could treat your future customers in order to keep them loyal and spreading the word about your business? For example:
Fish need regular feeding.
Plan to reward your clients regularly, especially those who turn out to be your biggest advocates.
Fish have a good sense of sight, smell and touch, and feel pain and suffer stress.
Remember that all your clients are human, and treat them as such. Help solve their problems and you'll stand out from the crowd.
Fish can drown if there's not enough oxygen in the water.
Be sure to think of ways to offer value to your clients. Even the best clients might turn away in the absence of value.
The more specific and imaginative you can get with your what-ifs and your answers to them, the more individual and innovative your ideas about your future business will become. When you have enough clear ideas you can start putting them into a business plan, and before you know it, you'll be a lot closer to creating a business that will excite, rather than scare, you. A business which will blow your future clients away!