Dreaming of Entrepreneurship But Still Clinging to Your Day Job?
In my last post A Love Letter To Entrepreneurs I mentioned how tough the job market is and how the internet provides the perfect opportunity for more people to become entrepreneurs. But according to one Gallup poll 25% of Americans have considered becoming business owners and never followed through.
So why are so many would-be entrepreneurs getting cold feet?
I know when I first set-up virtual shop as a copywriter the idea that companies would pay me to write (something I loved to do) seemed preposterous (despite the value I knew I was bringing to the table). So believe me, I GET why starting any kind of business can be terrifying:
How would clients find me?
Why would they choose ME over some other guy?
The fear of failure...
The experience catch 22 when you're providing a service (everyone wants to hire someone with experience/how do you get experience if no one hires you)
The reasons NOT to start can be a mile long and we're generally pretty good at talking ourselves out of scary situations. You know that whole self-preservation thing gets wildly out of hand sometimes.
Still, remember those 99 000 hours spent at work and the 70% of us feeling disengaged? Those are pretty compelling reasons to give entrepreneurship a shot - despite the terror-filled doubts swirling through your head.
So what ARE the reasons holding people back?
Let's look at 'em and knock 'em down one terrified-but-doing-it-anyway entrepreneur to another.
84% of people polled by Gallup said they decided not to become an entrepreneur because they liked a steady income. I hear ya, who doesn't like a steady income. This is a legitimate fear - especially when you're first starting out. There are no guarantees in business, unless it's the one you're offering. Not everyone will have the luxury of a spouse with a steady job to pay the bills while you get things going (I love you honey). This may not be the most popular "just do it" advice, but maybe you can make the transition to your business part time with some money coming in from your "regular" job. There are tons of articles about the side hustle over on Medium, I haven't done it but others have and it could be a practical solution. Yes, it will involve sacrificing some weekends and evenings but if you're serious about it then sacrifices will have to be made - whether it's going all in and living on less for a while or maintaining your lifestyle and giving up weekends.
68% say they don't have enough personal savings to start a business..and we can't all be on Shark Tank or Dragon's Den. Or whatever reality TV show you watch where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to millionaires. Obviously there's huge variability on how much you need to get started depending on what your business is. Don't forget about things like crowdfunding on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. If you have a great idea that people love you can find a way to make it happen. And if no one loves your idea...maybe you should head back to the drawing board before you head to the bank.
66% worry about the odds of success. Well, another Gallup poll says 50% of all new ventures die within the first 5 years...so I guess with stats like that it's a legitimate fear. That particular article suggested a lack of a specific talent skills set as the culprit (that might be an article for another day). There are a few more variables involved than just talent when it comes to the success or failure of a business. Plus if you're really worried about your talent skill set you could always get a partner. No one says you have to start a business on your own you know.
Anyway at the heart of this is a fear of failure. Here is a cold hard truth about life - it's a bitter pill to swallow so brace yourself - (are you ready 'cause I can't think of any more clichés to build suspense with) - you will not be perfect at everything. You will not succeed every time. And just because you failed at one thing does not make you a failure. It doesn't have to define you as a person. It doesn't have to defeat you - unless you let it. So let's move on.
49% have an idea but don't know where to start. Okay, this seems like an excuse to me. Do these people not have access to the internet? Because I feel like if you did some Googling you'd probably have a place to start. Yep, I checked - I Googled "how to get started in business" and there are over 1 Billion results add in "without money" and you get 256 million. 256 million places to start - so no excuses.
47% worry that running a business will negatively impact your work/life balance. Well...all you have to do is check out the Balanced Life tag over on Medium or the 185 million results on Google to know that everyone is worried about this - entrepreneur or not. I even wrote an article that touched on it called Simple Pleasures. You need to create boundaries and stick to them (I know easier said than done). But you also have to realize getting a business off the ground takes an insane amount of time and effort. This isn't Hollywood - you have to earn your happily ever after.
29% say they have no knowledge about running a business. So...go get some? You don't need a degree in business to run a business. Take some courses...online, offline just educate yourself. Do what you need to so you feel confident. Or better yet, start earning some money and hire someone else to take care of it for you :)
28% say they worry about the competition. It doesn't matter what business you're in there will always be competition - so get over it. Focus on what (or how) you're doing it differently. What sets you apart? Why should people choose you over the competition? Besides it isn't so much what you're selling as much as how you sell it anyway - but that's a topic for another day.
Wow, I feel like that was a lot of tough love. I think if you know your business is a good idea and you have a product or service that will provide real value to people you'll find a way to overcome all the doubts in your head. And all the negative talk from others. And all the obstacles life throws in your way. And you'll find a way to make it happen.
No one promised entrepreneurship would be easy. The reason so many people settle for working for someone else. It's easier to let someone else be in control. It's easier to let someone else make all the decisions. It's easier to have someone else to blame when everything goes wrong.
Yes, being your own boss is great and working from home definitely has its advantages. But maybe the biggest unspoken fear is: can I handle the responsibility? And only you can answer that one.