Most people who own their own business seem confident and happy. They present a persona of being invincible – their business will never fail and they have total faith in their product. Perhaps the reason you have not started the process of turning your passion into profit is fear – fear of failure, fear of the commitment, fear of what other people will think of you. Let me tell you that the business people you see with enterprises also have fears. Anyone who has gone to work for themselves does, but successful entrepreneurs have just learnt to manage fears and you can too!
According to a survey by the National Australia Bank, about 33% of Aussies want to start their own business, but only 17% of working people have a business! Will half of all Australians who want to own their own business never realise their dream? What’s stopping them from starting a business? I guess it’s fear.
The truth is that most people who begin a business never look back, and certainly don’t live to regret it. Are you going to spend your whole life working for someone else when you really want to work for yourself? That is the equivalent of spending your whole life in the grandstand when you desperately want to play football and get out on the field!
Okay, the only way to deal with your fears is to confront them, so let’s look at what could be holding you back. Some people are afraid of being self-employed because the workload and cash flow is at first unpredictable. The beauty of the internet is that you can start a business, sell online and hold on to your salaried job in the first year. If that is not an option, then you need to plan for inconsistency. Try to build up an emergency fund before you go into business. If you have to, look for a part-time job that will deliver a little bit of cash while you build your business. Deliver newspapers and advertising material if you are desperate, but persevere with your business. Give your enterprise and yourself a fighting chance for at least 12 months.
Maybe you are scared that you won’t attract enough customers. Yes, you are going to need to market cleverly. If it is an online business you will need an online presence. But as long as you have a positive attitude, deliver a quality product and treat people fairly and decently, there is no reason why you won’t succeed. Of course running your own business will be lots of hard work. You need to discuss what hours you will be putting into your enterprise with your family before you launch. If you have their love and support, you will have a greater chance of succeeding. Think of ways to involve your family in your work.
Some people think that being successful in business is all about finding the right enterprise. Perhaps they are looking to buy a business that is already turning a profit. This is a dangerous mindset. What you always must remember is YOU make the business successful. The business does not make you a success, that’s not how this works!
Is one of your fears the fear of the unknown? You are not 100% sure what you are getting yourself into. In the past I’ve recommended drawing up a detailed business plan and also talking with successful business people. Ideally you need someone who has succeeded in business to go over this plan with you, so you have some idea what to expect in the first 12 months. However starting your own business is an adventure and with all adventures you can’t be totally sure what you are getting yourself into. But people who live the most rewarding lives take risks and expose themselves to new and interesting situations. Life would be boring if we could predict the future.
People’s greatest fear is that their business or online enterprise will fail, and then they would be left with egg on their face. They would feel ashamed. All I have to say to you is so what! I have failed spectacularly and more than once, and what do I do then? I pick myself up and try again. A good entrepreneur is ready to face failure and has a survival plan. A successful entrepreneur never enters a business proposition expecting to fail, but they know they can live through that if it eventuates. Remember also, you raised the capital to go into this business and you can raise more capital for the next business if you need to. Finally most entrepreneurs will tell you that they learnt more through their failed businesses than their successful businesses!
Another excuse I hear from want-to-be entrepreneurs is that it’s the wrong time to start a business. I say to you, will there ever be a right time? A true business person will accept the challenges of today and just find ways of making their business work.
Perhaps you don’t think you have the skills to go into business or you don’t know enough about your product or area. I’m sure you know more than you give yourself credit for. Also most business owners learn on the job! Owning a business is going to teach you skills that you’d never learn working for an employee. I’m always saying that learning is a life-long process. If you want to keep growing you must keep learning. Owning a business means you will definitely continue to learn.
Some people are scared to start their own business because they are afraid what others will think. They may think you’ve got tickets on yourself, i.e. you think too much of yourself. Or they may tell you that you are mad or foolish. Look, this is your life and you only have one chance at it. Do not deny yourself a dream because you are concerned about what others think. Some people are afraid to start a business because they are actually afraid of success. Are you scared you won’t have the skills to meet the demand, or that dealing with large sums of money will be challenging? Remember there are always business consultants and accountants to help!
If you really want to turn a passion or hobby into a business then start taking steps to make that a reality. You don’t have to give up your day job immediately, but do not be governed by fear. Remember half of people in Australia who want to start a business never do because they are held back by fear. Well, a life lived in fear is a life half lived!
ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.