Many people want to take the leap into entrepreneurship, but are afraid. That's normal. Here are some tips to get your feet out of the mud.
Are You a Cliff Jumper?
I owned my first business when I was nine or 10. Our family lived in a trailer park in Ocala, FL. My older sister and I started a business mowing lawns in that trailer park. Our friends were out having fun and we were doing yard work for money. We charged two dollars to mow a yard and an additional dollar to rake and bag the leaves. (Looking back, we should have charged more). It was exhausting work, and we were bone tired on the weekends, but we never had to ask our parents for spending money again.
I remember what that independence felt like and have been addicted every since. Neither of us have looked back since when it comes to having the sheer courage entrepreneurs are made of. Sure, we were kids back then, and with that came the unique ability to jump off a cliff without thinking about it. But, as adults, we've both started businesses with that same cliff-jumping mentality.
As an adult, one such business for me was started when I was a single mom in one of the toughest cities in the world -- New York City. Was I afraid of starting my business as a new mom, with new childcare expenses and no support system? Was I scared to death as a pondering adult entrepreneur with another little life to be responsible for? You better believe I was. I was terrified -- of failing; of failing and having to go back out and get a job I didn't like again if my business didn't succeed.
Once I realized what the fear was, I said, okay, been there, done that. I wouldn't like it, but the fear of having to go the job route again sure as heck wasn't going to keep me from starting my business. (Ironically, what I "feared" the most -- failing and having to get a job I didn't like -- was exactly where I was -- in a job I didn't like.)
Giving Failure Its Weight
Failure is part of owning a business. It's valid, give it its weight. But remember, the best way to learn is to be on the front line, and owning a business is just that -- front and center. And when you're on that front line, you just may get hit with the bullet of failure. But as an entrepreneur, you have to put failure in a category and keep on moving forward. Failure is but one of many rungs on the LADDER OF SUCCESS.
When you peek back over your "failures," if means you've had the courage, guts, to actually try some stuff. It means you've had the OPPORUTNITY to learn some things -- some things that simply didn't work out using whatever "tactics" you devised. Find your bootstraps, try again, and just don't use those same "tactics again." Roll up your sleeves and prepare to move on up to the next pending success, armed with new knowledge; knowledge you wouldn't have had but for that failure.
Fear keeps a lot of people stuck, both professionally and personally. The solution? Dissect that fear and ask yourself why you are afraid; what's the worst thing that could happen? Once you know the answer, find the solution, your "Plan B" of sorts, and prepare to start your business. "If" can't be part of your vocabulary; "but," "maybe," "can't," all of those words have to be reserved for some conversation other than your new business, or the competition will eat you alive.
Captain of Your Own Ship
If you want to do something, make up your mind to do it and simply go for it. You will have naysayers trying to talk you out of it, but if you feel in your gut you can make something happen, go ahead and give it a try.
When I wrote the first version of this article, I was sitting in a rain storm in the Caribbean, working my foreclosure cleanup consulting business. I had always dreamed of having a place in the tropics where I could escape on a whim; and you know what, I made it happen. The ocean was in the distance that stormy day being rocked by sheets of wind and rain, and it was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen in my entire life. I didn't want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment, and I can't wait to board the plane back to my paradise.
Those are the benefits of owning your own business; you can steer your enterprise in any direction you choose. You are the captain, through the rain and the sunshine.
Households Owning Businesses are Richer
Business ownership is a vital part of America's make-up, both historically and today. Almost half the enterprises on the 2008 Inc. list of the United States fastest-growing companies were entrepreneurs. Further, according to "The Economic Future Just Happened," a report profiled by the Kauffman Foundation (the world's largest organization devoted to small business and entrepreneurship), over half the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were started during a bear market or recession. To add to that, business-owning households have more wealth. An SBA-based firm found that households propelled by entrepreneurial endeavors are more likely than others to have higher income and wealth than non business-owning households.
Starting Your Business
If you want to start a business, simply do it. Life is so short; dreams are meant to be lived, not stored somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind for the day when your body is barely able to move. Entrepreneurs rule this great country; join the club. Jump! It'll be the best ride of your life.
Many wishes of great success to you in your new business in 2011.