In the 10 years I’ve been an entrepreneur I’ve heard a lot of excuses from very intelligent people as to why they haven’t started a business. While I could probably write a book filled with those excuses, let’s tackle some of the most common.
1) “I don’t have enough money.”
This could be a good excuse. If you’re trying to start a restaurant chain. Otherwise, I’m assuming you’re reading this because you want to start something mostly web-based. Which means you don’t need much money. If you can’t scrounge up a few hundred dollars to start a business then you really don’t want to start a business. Hell, Kevin Rose started Digg.com for something like $2,000! (The domain itself was $1,200.)
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2) “I’m in too much debt.”
I’ll come right out and say it. This is the only legitimate excuse I can think of. Whenever somebody e-mails me to say they’re in a ton of debt but want to start a business my response is: “Get out of debt first.”
There is simply too much stress with debt. Add that to the stress of starting a business venture and you have a recipe for disaster.
3) “I don’t have the right connections.”
You don’t need any. Seriously. And once you actually start your business you will naturally make connections. The truth is, starting a small web-based business is usually a solo venture. That’s not to say meeting people won’t help. It will. Tremendously. What I mean is, if you can’t make things happen yourself, then by involving other people you’ll just waste everyone’s time.
4) “I don’t have enough time.”
There is not a single excuse that gets me more fired up than this one. Because you do have time if you want it. How much free time do you think you’d have with baby triplets and a full time job? Not much, right? Yet Charley is still making things happen. No time is no excuse. Make time. I won’t tell you how, you know where you’re wasting time.
5) “I’m not sure what to do.”
This makes sense. Starting a business can be a daunting task. But again, not if you’re starting a small online based business. Here’s the secret: do something. Action begets action. Get your idea out there, get feedback, tweak, get more feedback, and keep it up! Yes, it’s true you might fail furiously, but hopefully you’ll fail fast and move on.
But this brings me to another excuse: 5b) “What do I do first?”
And the answer is the same: something, anything. Buy a domain, get web hosting, and install WordPress. Or map out the specs for the application you want created and submit it to eLance.com and Guru.com to get quotes. Do something that moves you closer to shipping.
6) “Most businesses fail, why should I bother?”
It’s true most business fail, because the owners close them. As to why you should bother, well … to be honest, if this is your reason for not starting a business you’re probably better off not starting a business. A much better way to think is to find success stories and base your own business around those successes instead of failures.
Reading autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs (and successful people in general) will help you with this. You’ll see that most people had many failures or very moderate successes before being considered truly successful.
7) “My family/spouse/friends/dog don’t support me.”
There can be two different interpretations of no support. If your family/friends/etc don’t help or encourage your business (mine never did) then that’s easy to overcome. It’s your business, support yourself.
If, on the other hand, they tell you that you’ll fail and you have no business starting a business then you need to remove them from your life. Toxic people will never support you and you shouldn’t expect them to. Additionally, keeping them around will just make your chances of success that much less likely. Remember: avoid the unhappy and unlucky.
8) “I don’t have enough education”
This excuse is usually rooted in not having an MBA or business degree of some sort. The majority of successful business owners I know either didn’t get a University degree at all or got a degree in something other than Business. As Aristotle said: “What we have to learn, we learn by doing.”
9) “I don’t come from a business family.”
I’ve actually heard this one more than I can count and I don’t fully understand it. Was Michael Jordan’s father the best basketball player of his time? No, he never even made it to the NBA (and I don’t even know if the late Mr Jordan Senior played basketball at all).
The point is, you don’t need “entrepreneurship in your genes” to start a business. There isn’t a single entrepreneur in my family. Not a single one anywhere.
Might it help if you have a close family member who can show you the ropes? Yes. But it’s not necessary for someone to show you the ropes. Show yourself the ropes and you’ll understand them better.
10) “There is too much competition.”
Good! That means there is a hungry market. Much better to go into a market with competition and lots of customers than a market with no competition and no customers. With the former you can prosper, with the latter you will starve.
11) “I’m afraid”
There it is. And congratulations for admitting it. Fear is what every excuse boils down to. And you know what? You have a right to be afraid. If you don’t approach things right you can lose your ass. You can fail. You can spend hours, days, weeks, months, years building a business that could come crashing down one day. It has happened before.
But what if none of that happens? What if you don’t lose your ass? What if you succeed beyond your wildest imagination?
You’ll never know unless …