Photo by Siobhan Neela-Stock

“Building a foundation is so important. Always remember: the tallest trees have the deepest roots. So sit down and start planting! Your business is going to grow beyond your wildest dreams!”

Nicole R. Stokes, JD.


      Do you dream of living a life by design? I’m talking financial stability, vacations on demand, passive income, and enjoying your job at least 90% of the time. A life by design feels so far off for so many of us. But the reality is … that type of life is completely obtainable. If you’re reading this blog post, it’s most likely because you have a dream of working for yourself one day. Well congratulations! You’ve started.

     In order to be successful in literally anything … you have to have a strong foundation. In entrepreneurship, building a strong foundation starts with writing down your ideas and visualizing your results.

Here are some steps to get you started:

1. Brainstorm. Start the brain storming process by getting to know yourself. Sit down, take a blank book and start writing, scribbling, sketching … however you think, DO IT. Put your thoughts on paper. What are you good at? What do you like? You are good at SOMETHING. There is a passion and purpose inside of you. Figure out what you like to do. That’s the first part of the foundation you need to build your business. Are you into fitness? What’s stoping you from starting a personal training business? How about fashion, wanna become a stylist? Super into real-estate and property ownership? Become a realtor and run a real estate business. What if it’s not about property, but rather designing the contents of a building? Start an interior designing business. If you’re someone who finds themselves giving out life advice to friends and family, start a life coaching business! If you’re a photographer, what’s stopping you from starting a photography company? What about cooking, do you know how easy it can be to start a food truck company?

Whether it’s one idea or seventeen ideas, it’s helpful to see it all on paper. You can only vet the ideas once you see them. Some suggestions, cross the bad ones out in red pen, circle the good ones in green. Use 3 pages, or 5, or 10. Whatever you need to do to empty your brain and see your ideas. Trust me, it helps.

2. Research. In the age of social media, research is imperative. What is the industry like? Who is your audience? Are there a lot of entrepreneurs or companies in the industry? Will you need a business license? Who are the most popular people/companies in that industry? Is it hard to enter that industry? What are some difficulties? Who are the successful people/companies? What do you need to get started? Knowledge is– quite literally– power. It’s what separates you from your competitors. The more you know, the more you grow.

3. Know your areas of opportunity. Yes, anyone can start a business. But, it’s so important to realize that you won’t know everything. Write down your reservations. What don’t you know? Will you need help marketing, accounting, setting pricing? Will you need help organizing, managing social media, creating content? Recognizing your areas of opportunity will help you to determine if you should start the business. Let’s be honest … too many areas of opportunity may create more work for you in the long run. It’s important to research the industry FIRST so you can be completely honest with yourself when exploring possible challenges.

4. Connect with entrepreneurs in the industry. Even if you don’t specifically have the business set up, start networking. This is an industry you may want to enter! Follow the top entrepreneurs in that industry and ENGAGE. Comment, like, read their posts, send them DM’s. Ask them questions. How did they get started? What do they like about the industry? Who cares if they don’t respond?! Begin to build connections that you may want to leverage if you enter the industry. This is your life, your business, and you should do everything you can do to put your best foot forward. The people you connect with may be a visual representation of what to expect. How do they engage with your target audience? What does the influencer in your industry do well? What can they do better? What would you do differently?

5. Make a commitment. You’ve done the background work. You’ve brainstormed, researched, recognized your areas of opportunity, connected with entrepreneurs in the industry … now it’s time to step out on faith. Time to make the commitment. Entrepreneurship is a journey. I would be lying if I said it’s easy. It doesn’t always start off as a life by design. There will be long days and long nights. There may be financial struggles or failures. BUT … there will also be rewards. One of the best feelings in the world is seeing something you worked hard to build, actually come true.  However, you have to commit. Commit to seeing it through, commit to fighting through any potential adversity, commit to YOURSELF. If this is something you want, you can do it! Bet on yourself, you’re a good investment.

     When I first began my entrepreneurship journey, I’ll be honest I didn’t quite follow all these steps. What a mistake! Then, I had to go back, sit down, and re-evaluate my journey using the steps above. I’m telling you something I would have wanted someone to tell me when I first started.

     Building a foundation is so important. Always remember: the tallest trees have the deepest roots. So, sit down and start planting. Your business is going to grow beyond your wildest dreams.


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More about the Author

Nicole Stokes is a Senior Advisor for The Connect. She hold a Bachelor Degree in Marketing and Finance, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a Juris Doctorate Degree (Doctor of Law). After passing the bar exam, she plans to become a business attorney. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, working out, and traveling.

IG: @thecoleconnection