If you’ve been dreaming of leaving the rat-race behind and being in control of your own destiny by starting a business, you’re not alone. Dreaming is all very well – it’s important, but action is what makes things happen. Many of us find it incredibly difficult to carry out the steps necessary to start our own businesses, because there’s quite a lot at stake – particularly if you’re gainfully employed and have never known anything other than that reliable pay-check each month. Well anything that’s really worth having usually requires some kind of sacrifice or hard work.
Let’s think about some of the things that could be holding you back from taking control of your own destiny.
1. I’m Scared of Failure
Let’s face it, starting your own business is fraught with the possibility of failure at every turn. The simple truth is, until you do it, you won’t know whether or not it will succeed! But if you never try, you’ll never know. Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen? Would it really be that bad? For example, say you quit your job and started out on your own. Perhaps you invest some money into starting a new business. It fails and now you’re in debt. You’re not bringing any money in, and you have no contingency and you see that you’re going to struggle paying your bills. Ok, so you had a go and it didn’t work out. Now you’ve got a bit of debt. Get back into paid employment, pay it off and instead of thinking “I’m useless and that failed because I’m no good”, realise: perhaps there are ways to go about planning a new business that could alleviate some of these problems. Failure is often the result of bad planning – if you’re going to leap, you’re going to probably want to take a pragmatic approach or you could find yourself in an awkward situation, and frankly there’s no need. If you plan properly, you can mitigate some of the things that could put an end to your efforts. Getting all gung-ho and quitting your job rarely works out well, so make a plan, and consider these things:
- Save for a contingency fund to carry you through the start-up process if it’s going to take time to start generating revenue.
- Consider going part-time at your job, or getting a different part time job that will support you whilst you work on the new business.
- If you can continue to do your current job and put the hours in after work to set up your business, you’re winning.
- Get help – is there anyone who might be good enough to help you get the infrastructure in place without requiring payment?
- Work out how you could minimise your startup costs. Businesses can take a long time to grow, depending on the kind of business, so work out how you can offer your service affordably. As you grow, you can expand or amend your services with investment.
- Educate yourself. If you don’t know what you’re doing in a particular area, it will pay to learn. Whether it’s book-keeping, taking care of taxes, online and offline marketing, website management or social media. All these things can be done alongside your day job.
- Consider whether you need to register your business as a limited company which will limit the financial liability you have if things go wrong.
2. I’m Scared of Success
It might sound dumb, but it’s a common one, that is observed rather than verbalised. What happens if I commit to this thing, and it works, and suddenly I’ve got more business than I can handle? What if it takes me out of my comfort zones? What if it takes up all my time and my relationships suffer? Am I capable of taking care of things if this actually takes off? Sometimes, it’s the fear of actually committing to a thing and what that will mean. Other times it’s a battle with yourself about integrity, worthiness, rejection and acceptance – whether you deserve success and what it will mean for you to stand out and be seen. It’s counter-intuitive and confusing, but I think more people suffer with this than you’d think. I love this quote by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
3. I’ve Tried Before and I Failed
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill
Lots of businesses fail and for all kinds of different reasons. The entrepreneurs that make it are the ones that see failure as a learning experience, pick themselves off the floor and work out how they can improve. What did you learn from your failed business?
That there’s no market for what you offered? – ok, so it’s time to do some research and work out what you can do that will sell. Is it a tweak that needs to be made, or is it a whole different product or service that you need to come up with?
That your strengths aren’t in selling or marketing or some other area? – As a start-up business owner, the chances are high that you’re going to need to wear a lot of different hats. It’s perfectly natural that you’re going to have certain strengths and weaknesses. We can’t all be brilliant at everything, and there are a lot of different roles in a business. If you can’t do something – you can learn. Everyone has the ability to learn to improve at something. If you really think it’s not for you, perhaps you can find someone who can help? One of the most important lessons I learned when starting in business was that it is miles harder to do everything on your own – that working with even one other person can massively change the game. Reach out to friends or family that could help, even temporarily. Look into hiring a freelancer on sites like UpWork or Fiverr to take care of stuff that needs a professional’s touch.
That you failed to plan properly? – It’s possible that your business may have been a success if it weren’t for a couple of bad decisions. Everyone makes a bad decision from time to time. Forgive yourself and commit to doing it better next time. If you jumped in and used a scattergun approach last time, can you maybe learn from that and make a plan that minimises your risks?
4. I’m Too Old / Tired / Broke!
Too Old – Are you telling me that your age is stopping you learn how to do something new? It isn’t. It’s your attitude. All you need to do is nurture that passion. Don’t give up on the dream. Make a plan and carry out each step one at a time. It’s never too late to change your career, start a new business or learn a new skill, don’t let ‘age’ be your excuse. You might not be able to become an olympic athlete at 60, but it doesn’t stop plenty of people running marathons. Find inspiration from others and connect with them. Do what you need to do to ignite the fire that will carry you to the next stage.
Too Tired – Said every single person who’s ever had a full time job, or raised kids. Tiredness can be overcome with good food, excercise and most importantly – passion! If you’re excited about something, you’ll often find that it is enough to carry you through.
Too Broke – Not every business requires a bank loan to get going. Work out what your skills are and maximise your potential for success by hunting down business ideas that will be low-cost to start. There’s always time to expand later. With the right plan, you can start small and slow, and grow over time.
5. Someone is already doing it, and probably better than I could!
When you look around at who’s already doing what you’re thinking of doing, it can be tempting to think there is no place for you amongst all that talent. The thing is that only you can do what you do the way you do it! The combination of your story, skillset, methodology, and approach is uniquely yours. Who is to say you won’t trounce the competition? Who is to say they have to be your competition? Can you find a way to distinguish yourself so that your service is different? The world thrives on variety. If you would buy your product or service, there’s a good chance someone else will too; you just have to find them and reach them with your message.
6. Life is too complex – I’m too busy – it’s not the right time
If you’re waiting for all your ducks to line up, you could be waiting forever. Life will always be busy – throwing challenges and obstacles at you repeatedly. It is a question of priorities. Our time on Earth is precious and limited. If you’re going to spend the majority of your limited time on Earth working, don’t you think it would be better for you and everyone else if that was something you derived great satisfaction from? Perhaps you’re putting your family first and telling yourself “I need to provide a stable income for my family, regardless of whether I enjoy my work”. Well you certainly need to provide for your family, but does that mean you have to sacrifice your happiness in order to do it? Is there not a way in which you can provide for your family by doing something that you enjoy? Don’t you think you will be a better partner, parent, friend and colleague when you are resourced by your work rather than drained?
How can you get started on your journey to a better life today?
- Find a business mentor or coach who can keep you motivated and provide valuable advice
- Start planning! Planning generates excitement and momentum. Write things down. Plan you’re route forward to give yourself the best chance of success.
- Do the math on your business idea and talk it over with friends and family members who will be supportive. It’s exciting when the numbers start adding up in the right way.
- Learn how to do something online – there are thousands of courses on a multitude of subjects. Check out www.udemy.com.
- Come up with a business name and maybe register a domain name.
- Get a logo designed, and maybe some business cards – give your ideas flesh.
- Get a website made where you can flesh out the details of your service provision. This forces you to think about everything with precision.
If you need help with the digital side of starting your own business, Deluxe Web would love to hear from you. We are an experienced team of local business web specialists who can help you get a professional website affordably. Contact us about your project today: we’d be happy to talk it through with you free from technical jargon or pushy salesmanship. We offer a free in-person no-obligation initial consultation in and around the Bristol area, or by phone.