How To Know What To Start


The question on the minds of a lot of people who begin orbiting the Intrepid world, and it comes up in our cohorts, is “what do I even start?” With seemingly a million ideas and options on the table the prospect can be daunting. It’s akin the begin a high school senior and still fretting over which college to attend as well as which degree program to pursue. That truly is daunting for most.

Maybe it was because I was that high schooler. Not sure what to study or where. Sure I had ideas and an inclination but was almost paralyzed with indecision. Fast forward the storyline nearly 30 years and now I spend time in the classroom each and every semester helping college students process these kinds of decisions. Looking back on my high school self what I realized is this … I actually knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Did I have specifics? No. Details? Not a bit. But I did have an inclination and a leaning. There was a compulsion that I must gravitate towards a certain direction. I had a trajectory. Ironically, this was even before I came to faith in Christ. As a result, when Christ called me to himself and into a life of service to him it wasn’t a break from who I was, how I was wired, but a deeper leaning into that direction.

I’m finally comfortable saying I’m a creative person. I’m curious. I like creating things from scratch. Whereas I once thought that meant going to art school and pursuing that I instead have applied all of those leanings in ministry from church planting to starting ministries and projects to writing books (because I explore through writing) and now starting new businesses. In other words, I didn’t have to stop being me.

Knowing what to start as far as a business or non-profit is like this very conversation. We simply gravitate towards certain things and away from others. It’s like food. For some reason I love asparagus but hate (and I mean hate) cauliflower. As to why? I have no idea. No matter how much I try I cannot bring myself to enjoy that abomination of a food. But asparagus? Love it. I have no idea why I love certain things and avoid others. We do this in life and especially when it comes to starting a new business or non-profit.

For many, you may feel like that high schooler sitting with the guidance counselor thumbing through the catalog (more like perusing websites) of college options and degree programs. Overwhelmed. I’d like to encourage you that you’re actually closer than you realize. More than likely you’re already trending in the direction you need to go, but you’re hesitant. Maybe afraid. You mean, start that? No way. I can’t do that. But you actually can. You will acquire skills and tools needed a long the way. Trust me.

So how do you know what to start? I’m sure without realizing it you already have a list of 3-5 potential options. How did you come up with that list? It might’ve been from an experience, a passion, an interest, etc. I also suspect with within that list there are 1-2 that resonate even more deeply. It stirs you more than others. Again, it’s not always easy explainable … you just know.

So then, the question is … how do you go from idea to startup? To me the biggest and most difficult decision is landing on an idea. Once you get going of course you’re going to realize just how much you don’t know, but we learn, adapt, and accumulate skills and tools along the way.

Dream. Plan. Do.


Written by Sean Benesh, Director of Intrepid