Have you spent many hours daydreaming about the kick-ass life you are going to have once you are running your own business?
Have you already started the business in your head but haven’t actually done anything real to get it going?
I feel your pain. It took me nearly a year (that is very embarrassing to admit by the way) to actually start this blog for so many reasons.
My partner was absolutely fed up to the back teeth of me and my business ideas, none of which I ever did properly.
Some I started, some I didn’t. But as soon as I had decided on one idea, the next shiny thing came along and off I went chasing it like a deranged magpie.
Now I’ve finally managed to get going, it’s made me think about why I just couldn’t get started before.
If any of these are familiar then hopefully this will help you get over the hurdles and get going!
So, here are my 10 reasons for why you haven’t started your business yet and what you can do about it.
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When you are starting a business, you are most likely (and hopefully) using one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People and ‘starting with the end in mind’.
You know you want to build a successful business and you are probably looking at other businesses that have succeeded in doing what you want to do.
But right now you are starting at a blank piece of paper, and suddenly the enormity of the task ahead dawns on you. There is so much to do! This can be so daunting that it stops you getting going.
But as the saying goes ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’, you have to break things down into chunks and work on one thing at a time.
Once you have done that one thing, move onto the next one. Each time you complete something, you will get one step closer to your dream business.
But don’t try and think about every single thing you will need to do to get to your ultimate goal – your head will explode!
If you are thinking of starting a business, chances are you have been inspired by stories of others who are making thousands of dollars a month or work 20 hours a week from their glass-fronted beach house in Costa Rica.
Yes, this can be motivational in terms of where you want to get to, but you shouldn’t be using these people as a comparison.
Join Facebook groups of people who are trying to build a business in the same niche as you and see what questions people are asking.
Chances are they are the same basic questions that you want to ask or have even overcome already.
These are your peers. Not the woman with the six-figure business and the 10 bedroom house.
It can really help to boost your confidence when you realise that you are not the only one with no clue what to do next.
You are just starting out and you need to keep reminding yourself of that.
The highly successful people you want to emulate also started out once and were in exactly the same position you are now.
Everyone has their own opinion based on a long list of things such as values, past experiences, upbringing, education etc.
If someone is negative about your business idea, chances are it is because they are relating it to what they would do, or what they value, or what they think.
“Oh I had a mate who set up a business like that but it went bankrupt”
“Blogging? There’s no money in it”
“I think that market is saturated, you’d be better off selling something else”
Most people don’t mean to rain on your parade on purpose. They just can’t see how your business would be useful to them.
Which, unless they are your target customer, is of no relevance to you.
I’ve got no interest in Japanese Origami, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad business idea. It’s just that I am not their target customer.
Personally, I think that until you have put in the groundwork, built some momentum and feel confident about where you are going, you shouldn’t bother telling people who aren’t your target customer.
There are so many facebook groups, twitter conversations, Pinterest Boards, bloggers etc that may be in the same niche as yours. Chat with them instead.
What if I start a business and it doesn’t work? Will people think I am a failure?
Will my family think I am crazy for wanting to leave my financially secure job to set up on my own?
What if I get customer complaints because they don’t like my product or service?
I really struggled with this one to begin with.
Starting a blog is about putting your writing (and face) out there for the whole internet world to see. I’d spent 13 years in a retail career staring at spreadsheets, and now I wanted to write??
What if my friends thought my writing was terrible? What if my blog bombed, would people laugh at me?
After much anxiety, procrastination and lost sleep, I came to the conclusion (by reading The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck‘ by Mark Manson), that there was no point in caring what others thought.
The only person that was going to lose out by worrying, was me.
This is your business, your space, your opinion, your way of running things. Some people will like it, others won’t.
Worrying about it won’t change anything so you may as well just get on with it.
“There is no such thing as a new idea” – Mark Twain
Do not twist yourself in knots trying to think of something no one has done before, you’ll never start anything if you do that.
Apple was not the first company to sell computers, Amazon was not the first company to sell books. But what they did was take a business and build a brand around it.
When you start your business, the idea won’t be unique but your brand will be. You will be the one shaping your brand, and there is no one else exactly like you.
The internet is full of blogs about leaving corporate life and starting your own business. I still started this one though and will build my own personal brand around it.
If you are considering leaving a corporate career to start a business (please only do this if you have the financial cushion to do so!), you are probably used to knowing what you are doing.
If you are in your mid-thirties like me, you have most likely spent 10+ years building a career, to the point where a lot of what you do day to day is automatic.
If you are building your business in a brand new niche or industry to your previous corporate job, it is incredibly difficult to go back to knowing NOTHING.
Where to start, what to do, who to talk to. It all has to be learned from scratch. And this can have a big knock on your confidence if you think about it in the wrong way.
When you are used to being successful in a career, it is a very hard thing to go back to the beginning and start all over again.
Rather than being more senior than a lot of people, you are back to being the most junior.
Rather than being able to equate money with progress (pay raises, promotions etc), you are probably not going to make significant money for a while. So there is no monetary measure of progress or success.
This can be a difficult pill to swallow, but you have to detach your self-worth from your idea of what success looks like.
You are no longer a ‘job title’, or a particular salary, or part of a well known corporate brand. You are just you, at the beginning of a very exciting path on which you will be constantly learning.
Are you are constantly letting other distractions take up your valuable time and then wonder why you haven’t worked on your business this week?
There are so many distractions in life:
People asking us to do things
Netflix series (they just keep churning ’em out)
Mobile phones constantly on our person
Emails every hour of the day
Life admin (switching bank accounts, organising train tickets etc)
But we do actually have a choice whether we let these things distract us or not.
I think one of the biggest reasons for getting distracted when you are trying to start a business is that you haven’t truly decided to ‘go all in‘.
If you are still lacking confidence, are unsure what you want to do, or haven’t got a strong enough ‘why’ for wanting to set up your business, you’ll find ways to stop yourself from jumping in.
You need to figure out why this is, what is stopping you from really going for it?
Once you have decided it’s ‘do or die’ with your business, everything else just melts away. Instagram photos of what your mate’s dog did yesterday lose their appeal rapidly as you focus on building your future.
Obviously, you do sometimes need to do other things (like your life admin) but I find it easier to create a time block for this at the end of the day or week rather than let it interrupt time to work on my business.
I am the world’s greatest ‘procrastinizer’.
I use organization as a means of procrastinating. Constantly.
If I am trying to avoid doing something, you’ll find me dragging google calendar blocks around like a Rubik’s Cube, organising and re-organising the week ahead.
This would be fine if I did it once and then stuck to it. But that almost never happens, I go over it at least 3 times a day, always when I should be doing something else.
So I end up with a lovely google calendar but no blog posts *facepalm*.
If you are also a ‘procrastinizer’, each time you catch yourself re-planning something, ask yourself this question.
Is this planning and organisation actually going to grow my business, or is there something I am avoiding doing?
If you are avoiding doing something, shut your calendar and JFDI!
The 9-5 is widely recognised as the standard workday. Although this is laughable in some industries where 12+ hours are the norm, there is still an expectation around when you will enter the office and when you will leave.
You have probably built up a routine over many years of doing the same thing every Monday to Friday, year in, year out.
But what happens when you set up your own business?
There is no schedule. No set start time, no meetings, no boss telling you which tasks to do and in what order. You have this whole day yawning ahead of you and no idea what to do with it.
What should you prioritise first? How long should you spend on each task? What time should you start? What time should you finish?
To be honest, googling this doesn’t help as everyone seems to do something different.
Some business owners get up at what would widely be considered as ‘you’re effing kidding o’clock’ and work until midnight. Others work the morning only. Some work better at night.
Unfortunately, there is no right answer. What I have found so far is that I try something and then see if it works.
I am most awake in the morning, getting up at 6:30 am is about as much as I can take, but if I start working at 7:30 am then I’ll get a good 5 hours of productive work. After 6 pm? Forget it. I’m useless.
Start off by planning your week based on when you think you will be most productive (only do this once – see point 8!).
Morning people, plan your biggest tasks first thing. Evening people, plan them when you will be most awake.
At the end of the week, review how it went and then tweak accordingly. You will probably need to try a number of different ways until you settle on something that works for you.
When trying to be productive, eating the frog works best for me. Get the scariest/most unpleasant thing out of the way first.
In a corporate job, there is a clear linear path. You put in loads of hard work and hopefully get promoted, which results in a pay rise. You rinse and repeat over the course of your career until you retire.
There is a cap on your earnings though as your salary will be determined by your level within the company.
What about when you start a business though? Is there a cap on what you can earn?
No, not really. You are only limited by the number of people that are buying your product and service. The more people you reach, the more you sell (in basic terms).
So in theory, you could earn more than you would ever earn in a corporate job, or be more ‘successful’ than you ever dreamed of.
But what would that mean? Would it change your relationships with family and friends? Would people treat you differently?
I think it is very easy to think of the ‘what ifs’, but at the end of the day, your business is going to evolve. And your income from your business will grow over a period of time.
It’s unlikely you will suddenly go from earning £0 to £20k in one week so you’ll have time to figure it out as you go along.
Whether one or all of these are stopping you from getting stuck into your business, you just have to take a deep breath and start.
Even if you feel anxious, even if you have no idea what the H you are doing.
Every other business owner had the same fears as you, but they gave it a go anyway. What have you got to lose?
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What is the one thing you going to do today to get your business started?