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Starting a Business Accidentally

by Arianne Foulks

November 4, 2014

At the Nearly Impossible conference, some of the (impressive!) speakers confessed to starting a business ‘accidentally,’ and I talked to many business owners who didn’t intend to have a business when they were pursuing what was a hobby at the time.

A nicer way to describe this is to say that a business sprouted up organically. It’s a story that seems common with our favorite kind of businesses. The business owner had a talent or an interest, and before they knew it, they were running an actual business.

I have just started thinking about this, and I’m interested in your opinion. I’m going to ask people this at conferences: how purposefully did you begin your business?

Starting a Business Without a Business Plan

There are pros and cons to starting on accident, without a business plan or a goal. It seems that if you were doing something personally enjoyable which became a business, you’re likely to continue to enjoy your work (or have you experienced a decrease in enjoyment when play becomes work?).

There is so much boring business-y work that goes into a business (especially when it’s new and you can’t afford help), that someone who wasn’t out to start a business could get easily overwhelmed and burnt out.

I’ve talked to many people who just want to create and then find themselves saddled with materials sourcing, shipping, inventory management, coordinating with manufacturers, creating website content, marketing, accounting, hiring, and they feel like it isn’t what they signed up for!

Conversely, there are those of us (such as me & Sam on our team) who find ourselves enjoying running the business more than we enjoyed the making. My gut tells me that this is going to be the more sustainable scenario, but you tell me:

  1. Was your business accidental or purposeful?
  2. Do you enjoy the “boss” work or the creative work more, or is it about equal?
  3. If you could wave a wand today, and have a perfect staff to take care of your to-dos, what part of your business would you remain in charge of?

And then a #4, just for yourself: What could you do today to take a step toward a goal of #3?

Thank you for doing this exercise with me! Please share your answers in the comments.

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