You’ve thought about it a million times. You know you have what it takes to run your own business and you desperately want to start one. Heck, you’ve even gone so far as to choose just the right business name and you even have logo design ideas. So, what’s stopping you?
Probably fear for one thing. Isn’t that what keeps us from doing most of the things we really want to do? What if fear were an option? What if you could figure out a way to overcome all the objections you’ve put in front of yourself that have prevented you from starting your business? Would that be enough to get you to take that next step? Let’s examine some of the fears that go along with starting a business and see what possibilities exist for overcoming them. Keep in mind, of course, that we are all individuals and our personal circumstances are different from the next entrepreneur. This list is to get the thinking going so that if starting a business is really your dream, you can use some logic and planning to make it a reality.
Why Not To Start a Business
• Fear of the unknown
• It costs too much
• I’m not good at selling
• There’s too much competition
• I might fail
• I don’t have a business degree
• I don’t have time
Any of these sound familiar? These were all on my list when I decided to start my writing business years ago. And now I’m writing a book called ‘Writer Inc.: Starting and Growing Your Writing Business’. (Inspired by Chris Brogan’s writing group ‘Write Your Book Already’) I wanted to share with people what I’ve done that enabled me to enjoy doing rewarding work and making a decent living at it. Let’s have a closer look:
Fear of the unknown – Of course it’s scary to start a new business. There are so many ways it can go wrong. The best way to address the fear of the unknown is to learn more on the topic. Whatever type of business you’d like to get into, do as much research as you can to find out what is involved in starting such a business, who your customers are, who your competitors are, and how finances will work. It’s not likely that you can learn everything about the business, but you can certainly gain enough insight to determine if this is the right kind of business for you. You’ll find that the more you learn, the closer you’ll be to deciding on what direction you’ll take. Knowledge is power.
It costs too much – This can certainly be true of some types of businesses. If you’re going to attempt a retail venture, the cost of inventory and a storefront could be prohibitive. If that’s the type of business you plan on pursuing, the element of financing will be critical to how you move forward. My business is a small, home-based venture with virtually no overhead. I already had a computer and an Internet connection which were really the main tools I needed to start my business. Whatever type of business you are considering, do some research to determine the various costs and then figure out how you might pay for them. If your dream business is simply too expensive, what alternative could there be to get you started? Instead of starting a retail store in the downtown core, could you possibly start a small online store to build up a following?
I’m not good at selling – This one really had me going. I think I stink at selling. But I really enjoy talking about things that interest me. I also find real pleasure in helping other people. What I ended up doing is changing my mindset to think about what I did as a way to help people and since I enjoyed doing it so much, I started talking about it to anyone who would listen. The old school attitude toward selling is that people who sell are sneaky and trying to trick you into buying something you don’t want. That’s not the way I’ve found it to be. I’ve learned that there are people out there who need my service. Why wouldn’t I want to help them by providing it? Consider what you want to offer in your business. Will your product or service help someone with their problem? Can you provide answers to their questions? Someone out there needs you. It’s just a matter of finding them.
There’s too much competition – This may be true in some business categories. It can also be said, however, that healthy competition means the customer wins. I think an important point regarding competition is to be sure that what you provide has something distinctive about it that only you have. It’s referred to as a unique selling proposition and it’s what differentiates you from your competitors. Why should a customer come to you rather than the guy down the street? There are some industries in which the demand is so great that you’ll be happy to have competition. When your plate is full, you’ll have someone you can send your overflow to and hopefully your competitors would reciprocate. In the world of communications, there is a great need for content. It doesn’t scare me that there are twenty other writers in my community. Some of them are specialists. This means I can redirect clients to them when necessary. The focus is on getting the best service possible for the client, whether that comes from me or someone else. No need to be afraid of the competition but you should understand them and know what sets you apart.
I might fail – Yep. You might. You also might succeed. You might succeed beyond your wildest dreams. I guess you need to ask yourself what you are willing to put into the effort. If you’ve done thorough research, understand your industry and competition and have built a nest egg cushion to relieve the financial pressure, your chances of success are substantially increased. A positive attitude and adaptable nature will go far in helping prevent the failure. But so what if you do fail? After the initial sting, I’ll bet that the life experience gained would have been worth the attempt. You’ll then know what not to do next time.
I don’t have a business degree – Most entrepreneurs I know don’t have a business degree. Many of them don’t have a degree of any kind. Starting and maintaining a business has a lot to do with your ability to learn and adapt to situations and markets. Much of the time this is on-the-job training. If you are smart enough to take some training in areas where you are weak, you will gain the necessary skills to start a business. Your local chamber of commerce or community services office will most likely have all the information you could need on starting a business. Check out the Government of Canada website for more information.
I don’t have time – We all have that problem. Trick is, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. How you choose to spend it is up to you. I started my business when I had two small children at home and have since added a third. It was a matter of planning and prioritizing to get things done by deadline. I’d recommend going back to your research and determining what exactly is required of you to start and run this business and translate that into blocks of time. Compare this with your other commitments and see what happens. Keep track of how you currently spend your time. You might be astonished at how easy it is to waste 20 minutes here or there on things that can easily be prevented. Schedule out the things you need to do and see what it looks like. Make sure to factor in down time and family time as these are just as important for keeping your sanity as anything else. If there are simply too many things vying for your attention, what can you let go or postpone while you start up a business? Being honest with yourself at this stage will reduce disappointment later.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s a sampling of the objections we place in front of ourselves when we want to try something new. What I’m hoping you’ll take away from this is the ability to look with logic and detachment at each of your own objections and see what you might do to respond to it. Right now might not be your time to start a business, but wouldn’t you regret it if you didn’t at least give it the consideration it deserves just to be sure?
What objections would you have to starting your own business?
MarnieHughes is an SEO copywriter, author and online marketer. She works with small and medium-sized businesses to develop their marketing and communications and expand their customer base.
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