You’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and you finally have your business idea. It’s a great idea that solves a huge problem in an elegant way. This idea can scale, and go global. There’s no one in the space today, or the existing players are weak. You think about this idea day and night, and you dream about starting the company and making it real. But, for some reason you just can’t do it. It just seems too risky...plus you have a great job. Sound familiar?
Many people simply talk themselves out of starting their own business. Before I started my company, I had a million thoughts about why it was an insane idea. In retrospect, I see that what I thought were legitimate fears were just excuses.
Below are the most common reasons I have heard from peers about why they can't start a business, and some advice on how to get past the issue:
1. "It's not the right time."
I know people who became entrepreneurs as teenagers, and others who started their first company in their 60s. Here's a secret that anyone that has started a business knows: there is NEVER a right time. It just does not exist. You can always convince yourself that you need more money, experience, time, connections, confidence, skills, business acumen...the list goes on and on. My advice? Have faith that now is actually the perfect time. A year or two after you have started your business, you will see that it absolutely was.
2. "What if it fails?"
Entrepreneurs tend to be people who are filled with such confidence that they don't focus on any chance of failure. But the tough fact is that 80 percent of businesses fail within the first 18 months, and it can be paralyzing to face those odds. My recommendation is to embrace the possibility of failure. Why? Because if you fail, you will learn something tremendously valuable about yourself, about business, and about life. You may start another business, or you might realize that entrepreneurship isn't for you. But if you don't try, you will simply never know, and the fear of failure should never stop you from doing anything. Remember, people who are on their deathbed usually regret the things they didn’t do, not the things they did.
3. "I haven't saved enough money."
Many people who aspire to start businesses are the primary breadwinner in their family, and they cannot afford to live without a salary coming in. I recommend that anyone who starts a business save enough money to live for 18 months without income coming in. If your business hasn't gotten enough traction within 18 months to produce income, and you don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, then you can shut the business down and get a job with the satisfaction of having given entrepreneurship a shot. What I like about the "18 month rule" is that it provides clarity to yourself (and perhaps your spouse), and it makes it easier to quit a lucrative job because you have a plan.
4. "People don't see me as an entrepreneur."
First of all, as a budding entrepreneur you have to ignore what others think of you because there will always be doubters in your life. Avoid those people if you can. But more importantly, if you take the leap and start your business, you will be stunned at how fast people who were originally naysayers will see you as a born entrepreneur. Perception is reality, and when you are the boss, you will be seen as a leader despite the fact that you used to be (for instance) a customer service manager, a payroll clerk, or a janitor. In America, people respect those who have taken a chance and put their reputation, capital, and career on the line.
5. "It just seems so hard."
You're right. Starting a business is very hard. It might be the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life. You will lose sleep, fight with your spouse, have less time for your kids, and potentially lose all of your money. Have I scared you yet? I hope so. Because there is no getting around this one--if you aren't ready to work your tail off and get your hands very dirty, don't even think about starting a business. If starting a business was easy, everyone would do it. The easy decision is to keep working for that secure paycheck, and that's exactly why most people don't start companies. My advice is to be very honest with yourself, and if you know deep down that you can make it work, then take that leap of faith and make it work.