How many people have you heard say one of these sentences?
“I had this brilliant business idea, but someone else did it first.”
“I wish I’d worked for myself and not stayed employed all my life.”
Or even, “I have so many great ideas but I don’t have the time to do them.”
There are many things that can stop someone from starting a business. Procrastination. Excuses. Lack of self-discipline.
Or the enduring classic: “I’m waiting for the perfect time”.
Now comes the hard bit that no-one wants to hear.
There is no perfect time to start a business.
Yes, no-one likes to leave behind their comfort zone. It’s scary. What about the usual financial commitments? The mortgage, school fees or holidays. What will happen to your lifestyle?
The answer is, no-one knows. But if you never start, you’ll never know what could’ve been possible.
Here are the main traps to avoid if you want to achieve the dream of running your own business.
Stop looking for excuses
A steady paycheck is comforting at the end of the month. You know exactly how much covers bills, goes toward holidays or gets added to your savings.
Leaving that behind is difficult.
But it’s not only the money that’s comforting. It’s the predictability.
And opening a new chapter of your life when you can’t predict exactly what money is coming in can be scary.
Besides, as humans, we’re all creatures of habit aren’t we? We’re uncomfortable with anything that’s completely new. After all, straying into ‘unknown territory’ is what could’ve got our ancestors killed.
It’s this exact fear of the unknown that could also be stopping you today.
‘I’ll do it when’… or ‘I just need (this perfect event) to happen first’… are understandable excuses that can stop you from taking the necessary leap.
Yet, every time you give yourself an excuse, you convince yourself that it’s ok to push your timings back further. You tell your subconscious mind that you should dwell a bit longer in your comfort zone.
Here’s a question to consider though:
Q: Do you know what happens in the comfort zone?
A: Nothing, unfortunately.
So if you want to reach your true potential, is it time to stop making excuses? It’s ok to be apprehensive. But do you want that to be your main regret when you reach 80?
Plan your first steps…
The first step to a new journey is always the hardest to take.
Once you’ve told yourself to stop focusing on excuses, it doesn’t mean you should go out all guns blazing.
“Fail to plan, plan to fail” is a classic saying for a reason. So you need to have a clear idea what starting your business actually means.
- What problem does your business solve?
- Who are your customers?
- How are you going to find them?
- And, more to the point: What is the driving force, the “why” behind your business?
These answers form the virtual backbone of your business. With them in place, you’re now ready to take the plunge.
Just like that? Yes!
But you need to decide when and how.
For example: You don’t need to go full-time from the first day. Often, nothing will stop you keeping your current job 2 or 3 days per week. Then you can work on your new business the rest of the time.
So, decide on a start date of your business. It can be 1, 2 or 6 months from now. One word of caution: the further away, the less likely it is to happen. Give whatever notice you need to give to your employer, and start as planned.
Just like that.
Accept that you won’t have it all mapped out
We’ve seen countless people who won’t commit to a start date. In their minds, they’re still sorting the details of their business plans.
This is another trick of your cunning mind. It’s as dangerous as “waiting for the perfect time”. Except that, this time, you’re waiting to write the perfect plan.
The perfect plan doesn’t exist either.
Planning the basics is important, but one key thing to accept is that things rarely go according to plan!
As you take the leap of faith with that first plan, you’ll realise fast there are many variables you hadn’t thought of.
Some will be good for you, some will be new hurdles to jump over. And it’s likely you won’t have encountered many of them before.
Keep in mind: No matter how much you prepare or plan, you can’t predict what the reality will be.
Entrepreneur is a French word that comes from the verb entreprendre. Its literal translation means “to start doing something”.
You definitely won’t become a successful entrepreneur by planning instead of doing. As long as you’ve planned the basics, make sure you don’t procrastinate by trying to create a perfect plan. Pick your start date and stick to it.
Respect the commitment you’ve made to yourself
Let’s say that:
- You’ve decided that starting a business is the right thing for you
- You’ve stopped making excuses a long time ago.
- You’ve created a plan (which is not perfect but good enough)
- You’ve given proper notice to your employer and you even started doing.
So far so good.
Now the excuses not to stick to your plan will likely come by dozens.
Your boss asked you if you could do overtime and come back 4 days per week? You’ve got laundry to do? The kids need dropping off at school? You feel like walking your dog because it’s a sunny day?
These events will take you away from your business – if you give them the power to do it.
As a consequence, you won’t be able to put the required energy into your business. In turn, you won’t get closer to your goals. It could leave you wondering if it’s even worth pursuing… because you “don’t have the time”.
This stage is when a lot of people give up. But you owe to yourself to stay committed. If you’ve come that far on your way to running your own business, why give up now?
Go back to the basics. Stick to your plan (as long as it is still relevant), and enjoy the success which will be coming one step at a time.