Have you been dreaming of starting your own business, and yet somehow that dream hasn’t become reality? One or more of these factors may be holding you back.
1. Fear: You’re afraid of losing the security that comes with paid employment. You’re afraid it won’t work out, all your savings (not to mention investors’ funds!) will go down the drain and you’ll be left empty-handed.
What you can do: Write a comprehensive business plan. Granted, it’s not easy especially if you don’t have a degree in a business-related field, but the research involved in putting one together is just what you need to build and strengthen your muscles. The process of researching for and writing the plan prepares you for running the business and boosts your confidence. You begin to see more and more what a great idea you have and how it can work. If people before you failed, you’ll find out why. You also get the chance to notice and straighten out knots that may cost you later.
2. Indecision: You’re not sure where you want to go, much less which route to take to get there or how to go about it. One minute you’re thinking you should leverage your cooking skills and build a catering business, and the next you’re thinking you should start a Public Relations company since you already work in PR.
What you can do: Ask yourself what you really enjoy doing. It may be tempting to chase the money now, but the chances of successfully running a business you’re not passionate about are very slim. When you love what you do, you’ll feel less strain putting in the extra hours and making the sacrifices that the early days require. You’ll be more inclined to go the extra mile, increasing your chances of standing out among your competitors.
3. Inefficiency: You can barely put in your best at work, where there are other people to handle various aspects of running the firm; how then will you cope when you have to build your own from scratch and oversee everything and everyone until you’re running and then flying?
What you can do: First, you need to get used to making a to-do list and sticking to it. Then start the business as a side gig. You can do it after work hours or on weekends, and gradually increase the time you spend attending to your clients, until you’re ready to handle it full time. Figuring out ways to run your own business on the side, all the while remaining an outstanding employee, will teach you invaluable time management and efficiency lessons.
4. Capital: You’re ready to take the leap, you know what you want, and you’ve worked out how to handle it and be productive. The only thing holding you back now is getting money to start your business.
What you can do: Get a mentor, preferably a successful entrepreneur. It is possible to save up for a while and use that money to start off, depending on the scale of your proposed business; it is possible to persuade people to buy into your vision; you can even get family to finance your business, or pitch to an angel investor and get funding, but how will you know all the possibilities, and which ones are best for you, without someone to show you the ropes? Entrepreneurship without mentorship is an easy way to set yourself up for needless frustration.
5. Pressure: This comes in various forms. It may be that you have dependents and feel pressured not to let them down, as they may feel the pinch for a while. You may worry about disappointing your parents who went through a lot to give you a good education, only for you to end up a “common” tailor or cook as fashion designers and caterers may be perceived. One woman who runs a very successful business selling clothes and accessories says, “I almost didn’t start because of my partner; he wanted me to pursue a corporate career. He adores professional women and my business is so far removed from the corporate world that even now, no matter how much money I make, he’s never impressed.”
What you can do: Find people who believe in you, your gift and your dream. We all need support and encouragement, and although it is painful when loved ones cannot provide it, it is important to build a support system. Most importantly, always remember that it is up to you to live your authentic life, and let others live theirs.
Business is challenging but it is also immensely rewarding when you get it right. Go for it!
About the author: Joy Ehonwa is a writer, editor and online proofreader who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a copy-editing, ghostwriting and transcription business, and blogs at www.anafricandiva.wordpress.com and www.girlaware.wordpress.com