11 Excuses Stopping You From Starting A Business

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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.)

For more check out:

- The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Small Online Business

- How I Created My First 6 Figure Business For $119.40

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.

Caveat: If you started a blog about how you’re getting out of debt that could grow into a very nice business. See GetRichSlowly.org, ManVsDebt.com, and TheSimpleDollar.com.

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.”

Do or don’t, the choice is yours.

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 …

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{ 32 comments }

Kris

Karol, what about an article at some point about starting a business/blog/ whilst still working a normal day job (to then quit of course ;-) )? I graduated a year or so ago from a Bsc computer science and sort of morphed into the corporate world all before you could say ‘corporate’ and now I”m sort of stuck. And I think there are a few like me out there. I’m getting a blog off the ground at the mo and I’ll hopefully get my little online shop (trying to get good nutrition into the heads of the masses) going soon, but doing it all while leaving a job in Switzerland and moving to another one in London is scaring me. So ya, an article along those lines would be great if possible. Sorry for the long comment!

Karol

Hi Kris,

Thanks for your comment. But if you look at what you wrote and then read the article you’ll see the excuses are covered. The big one that you seem to be stuck on is #4: lack of time. There is no single way to make it happen. Just make it happen. :)

Cheers,
Karol

Kris

Forgot to mention what a great and relevant post this one obviously is :-). Apologies!

Kris

Uhem This is true…. , thanks Karol. I’ll get to it then :-)

Cheers

Christopher

I love this post, Karol! I am probably pretty annoying because I am always trying to talk my friends into starting their own businesses and have encountered almost all of these excuses. These are all perfect examples of the “resistance” at work.

Karol

Thanks Christopher! It definitely is The Resistance. :)

Srinivas Rao

Karol,

I think this is one of the best articles you’ve written. I’ve been through many of those excuses myself. I think with the world we live in today with so many social media platforms in place today that more or less wipe out the need for being really technically savvy, almost all excuses are wiped out. It really comes down to a person. I was forced to do what I’m doing now because I couldn’t find a real job after business school, but I’m grateful every day.

Debt: Given how small the investment is for some of our business ideas, this one is kind of ridiculous. I think that you are right that people need to get out of debt first, but I don’t think the guys you mentioned are alone in terms of their blog helping them get out of debt. they just made that the entire focus of their blogs, and built great businesses around them.

Not Enough Time: When people who are unemployed tell me they don’t have time for things, I want to hit them (not actually), but that drives me nuts. Even if you work two uninterrupted hours a day, that adds up over time when done consistently.

Education: I think I’m over-educated in the formal sense, and the truth is the most tangible skills I’ve learned have come from outside of my education in the last year. So right on with this one.

There are so many excuses that we make for everything in life, when we are not at the top our game for those things.

Karol

Thank you so much Srini! :)

I’ve been through many of the excuses as well. I think it’s normal to have to fight The Resistance sometimes. It’s only when you let it win that it’s a problem.

As for debt: I still think, even though it’s a small investment, debt is another ball game. It really depends on the individual and how they deal with stress.

And feel free to hit the next person who tells you they don’t have enough time. ;)

Cheers,
Karol

Marina

I could have written this!! ha ha I keep telling these things to my friends and I heard all those excuses a million times………. all imaginary blocks…..
You’re such a smart a**, Karol!
x

Karol

Hi Marina,

I think every entrepreneur has dealt with these questions from friends who aren’t entrepreneurs but say they would like to be. :)

Cheers,
Karol

Adam

I’m with you on the debt thing. I blog about our $150k in debt and that’s about the farthest I will go when it comes to taking business risks. I have plenty of ideas but there is no way I am leaving the safety of my Government job with that much debt. It’s going to take me a little time, but when I am through with that debt, look out!

Karol

Very cool Adam. Not cool that you’re in debt, but cool that you’re taking action on blasting away at it! :)

Gary Jordon

Thanks for the post Karol. I am surprised that you didn’t mention the problem of narrowing down a niche. Let’s face it some categories are huge. people aren’t taught how to find what turns them on and are not taught how to apply this learning to the task of making a livelihood.

Karol

That excuse could be considered #5: not sure what to do. :)

Henk

Nice post Karol.

People should stop worrying and start acting.

I am in *debt* myself, but i can still get around deu to some minor sales.

I hope my e buisness starts to run in a bit(once i finished the product that is) to get fully out of it. hell, being in debt is not a excuse, its a reason to start one.

I agree you have to be able to handle stress, but hey, im in debt now, and if the buisness fails im in debt again. Nothing to lose in my opinion.

Henk.

Karol

You’ve got it Henk. Stop worrying and start acting. :)

Adam Martin

I completely agree with the not enough time excuse. If you really WANT to do it, you will make the time. You will stop wasting time, watching TV, playing playstation, or whatever it is you like to do with your free time. Just start doing something. Anything and it will lead you somewhere.

Karol

Yessir! I’m a fan of focused action, but even unfocused action is better than absolutely no action. :)

Adam Martin

Absolutely :)

Rasheed Hooda

Great article, Karol

Where there is a will, there’s a way. Just do it! make it happen!

Rasheed

Karol

Yessir! Thanks Rasheed. :)

Stanley Lee

Karol,
Absolutely love this blog as soon as I have been recommended by other bloggers alike. You have been an example of someone living ridiculously extraordinary lifestyle under your own will, and I’m trying to live a blend of the minimalist, 4-Hour-Work-week unique lifestyle. I have my own niche that is fairly different from yours or other similar bloggers, although I haven’t materialized in making the mechanism completely happen yet. I’ve been a blogger for half an year and still struggling to gain a network of readers. Here is my feedback on this awesome post that you have posted:
1) Not having enough money: This is one of the drawbacks that I’m experiencing as a new college graduate. I’m working in a summer job right now to replenish my savings from previous summer jobs (even though it is eating up more time than I’ve liked). While my current online business and other ventures are going on a slower pace than I have liked on top of other surprise expenses from my family, I find myself having excuses of being cost-adverse on necessary spending to improve my brand. I totally follow the guides on setting up the online business infrastructure on minimal cost, but mainly just stuck on other excuses (although doing the best I can to minimize the effects).
2) Debt: I have inherited some major debts from my family members on top of occasional credit card debt to pay for unexpected expenses. Luckily, either they don’t have typical pressing deadlines, or I have been able to use my summer job to pay off my debts ASAP rather than letting them sit there by only paying the minimum. Establishing a successful online business venture is the most likely method of paying off the debt that I have inherited in order to free myself.
3) Connections: If connections are needed, they can be forged by other meeting other people in networking events (if in person), or commenting other prominent people’s blogs (like Karol’s) and establish a connection of guest posting to establish the needed niche traffic. It’s just another excuse for not wanting to get the business rolling in the first place.
4) Lack of Time: Although my day job during the summer is eating up large portions of my free time, I have taken steps to limit the damage. For example, by distancing myself enough from the job emotionally. I also complete tasks in less time than most people by taking drastic measures to eliminate distractions and not do things like retards. Once I finish tasks, I also don’t pick up more tasks for the sake of accomplishing more goals, only to have myself overloaded with too many tasks in the end. I use tasks to advance my online business ventures or brand as breaks in between tasks for my day job other than meal and gym breaks.
7) Lack of support: Most of my family and friends do not encourage (or even discourage) me at all on what I’m doing. But then again, most of them aren’t all that well educated in terms of how the world really works these days, namely how people are treated in corporations, how incompetent is the education system, the operation of the social system, the economics of living the way TV ads tell you to live, etc. They think I am throwing a so-called “bright” future with an engineering undergraduate education down the gutter, even though the reality of such future entails being a slave worked to the point of insanity, poor diet, poor exercise, and poor health to be eventually tossed out by the society for fresh slaves to be exploited. These discouragements are just more motivation for me (or I think people alike) to succeed in the ventures to silence those critics.
8) Education: Just b/c I am educated with an electrical engineering background doesn’t stop me from blogging about personal management, wealth, economics, and dissing myths people believe in complete faith while they are complete lies. I am also passionate about self-improvement topics, which is what my products would be about in the short-term future (albeit specific niches of self-improvement).
These are my 2 cents!

Stanley

Karol

Hey Stanley,

Awesome! Thanks for sharing your insights. It looks like you’re on your way. :)

Cheers,
Karol

Matthew

In regards to #5, there are SO many resources out there that can help someone get going, it’s just not a good excuse. I’ve been reading this blog and Problogger.net, and I’ve found an accountant and an attorney who both met with me for free to give me some advice in regards to getting started. The information is out there, you just have to go looking.

The problem is #11: Fear. People are afraid to fail, so they don’t try. I’m anxious to get started and find out how it goes though :-D

Karol

Thanks Matthew! Yes, there are definitely a lot of resources out there.

That’s so great that you got an accountant/attorney to meet with you for free. Congratulations and thank you for inspiring others to get started!

Cheers,
Karol

Globetrooper Lauren

Hi Karol, I’ve only just come across your blog. How have I not before this?
Thanks for inspiring, cut-throat and humorous at the same time. So refreshing!

Karol

Hi Lauren! I’m not sure, but thanks for checking it out. :)

Dejan

Excellent post! It’s very motivating to keep pushing.
Thank you :)

Karol

Woohoo! Awesome. :)

Layla

Great blog!

Actually, I think you omitted two very important things:
- overwhelm management :)
John Williams, author of Screw Work, Let’s Play (and scanner himself – which means a person interested in ‘too many things’ :)) says it’s not really about ‘time management’ it’s about ‘overwhelm management’ and basically I agree.. :)
This can come from info overload, unsupportive/toxic environment or wanting to do too many things at the same time.. Or actual problems or dilemmas on the way: for example not being sure which affiliate products/businesses to promote (that are eco/green/ethical enough – there is LOTS of greenwashing out there!) The solution would probably be to research and brainstorm, you can get overwhelm or disappointment from too much research too.. History overwhelm: in ex-communist countries free thought was suppressed, many people here still don’t dare to think with their heads (as you probably noticed). Others go for ‘turbo capitalism’ and many new tycoons just go for the money, worst capitalism 19th century-style. So this can be seen as ‘prejudice against biz’. And there seems to be prejudice against money, in certain places.
Some people also don’t want to deal with paperwork or lack of stable environment, co-workers and all that comes with ‘jobs’.
There may also be a problem with privacy – especially if your biz is at your home address and what you do is a bit controversial or public?
Also, what about if you come up with some really great ideas, and some people want you to do them for free?!! (While others may demand they be done for money – what to do?)

- Basic infrastructure: home office or outside-home office and uniterrupted time enough to do what needs to be done.. (yes, I know you can work from a library or friends’ computers or from a dorm or garage too – probably helps if you don’t live in a very small town or in the hills with no internet if you want to include internet – at least some uninterrupted time and some support network would still be a must I guess) Oh, and health enough I guess?

:)

Karol

Hey Layla,

I didn’t say it was a comprehensive list, just a list of the very common excuses. Thank you for your additional input! :)

Cheers,
Karol

Maggie

I really liked this post! Interestingly, my debt is not keeping me from wanting to start a business. In fact, it is one of my main motivations for wanting to do so! I have about 55k in student loans and much to my chagrin, all my degree got me is a low-paying job in a cubicle! So I’m not particularly loyal to that (though a little scared of giving up the health benefits…), and in fact see having my own business as a greater earning potential to in fact get out of that debt. On my current salary, I figure it will take me, oh, about 20 years….

I liked that you covered some excuses that I’m sure I’ve been telling myself subconsciously but never really thought about. I don’t come from a business family – yep, that one has crossed my mind a few times. I’m not sure what to do – that’s a big one. But I’m starting to break down that excuse by just taking baby steps, and making sure I do something toward my goal every single day.

I think I will come back to this post whenever I am feeling discouraged as a reminder that there isn’t really any good reason not to live the life I really want. :)

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