Millions of people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but they never take that all-important first step. Too many things get in the way of their pursuit of business ownership, or they keep convincing themselves that their dream isn’t realistic.
If you ever want to move past this phase and found your own business, you need to acknowledge the specific obstacles that are holding you back and work to resolve them. Here are seven of the most common challenges that may be standing between you and your entrepreneurial dreams—and ways you can kick them to the curb.
Launching a business takes money, and most people don’t have ample cash to throw at a startup. There are several options here. First off, you could begin saving now for the funds to establish your business. If you shop for a better mortgage and reduce your house payments by refinancing, you can sock the savings away in your startup fund. You can trim costs in other areas to put away a few hundred dollars each month or save even more by picking up a side gig.
Barring that, you can secure funding in a variety of ways, such as borrowing from friends and family, crowdfunding, seeking loans and grants or even working with angel investors and venture capitalists. There’s always a way forward.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur typically demands experience; you need to understand your industry and business management in general if you want to earn a living from your venture. When you have limited experience, you may be reluctant to move forward, and understandably so.
You can make up for this, however, by actively seeking the experience you lack. Take an online course to gain a grasp of business management basics. Strive for a leadership position with your current employer so you’ll acquire strategic planning and people management skills. Work with a mentor or shadow an entrepreneur you admire.
No standout idea
You can’t build a business if you don’t have a promising idea for a product or service you can sell. Without a solid business plan, you won’t be able to convince investors or partners to join you—and you won’t even know where to begin. Unfortunately, this is one of the least “fudgeable” obstacles on this list. Without a good idea, you can’t start a business, period.
Luckily, there are ways to stimulate better idea generation, such as talking to a broad range of people, reading entrepreneurial content, and taking a more robust approach to brainstorming. Techniques like mind mapping and word banking can get your creative juices flowing.
Some people avoid starting a business because of existing responsibilities or constraints on their time. Their current full-time job, their status as a parent, or other personal responsibilities hold them back from their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Here the best approach is to determine how much of an impact these responsibilities have and consider ways to delegate or remove them. Could you really quit your day job, for example, or hire someone to help with household duties or childcare?
Fear of failure
Lack of confidence is an entrepreneurship killer. It’s true that the failure rate for new businesses is relatively high, with half of the new companies failing within five years. To buck those odds, you’ll need a healthy dose of confidence in yourself and your idea.
The only solution to a fear of failure is to change your mindset. You have to see failure as an opportunity for learning and growth and stop seeing it as the end of the road, an indictment of your abilities, or a stain on your character. Reading accounts by successful entrepreneurs will inspire you to see the possibilities rather than focusing only on the risks.
Aversion to stress or hard work
Starting and running a business demands a lot of effort. You’ll likely be putting in long hours and dealing with stressful issues. On top of that, your first few years are apt to be highly inconsistent, with your business only making a profit some of the time. This can wreak havoc on your finances and peace of mind. If you’re not feeling up to this kind of pressure, or if you’re loath to work more than 40 hours a week, entrepreneurship may not be for you.
Again, the only way around this obstacle is to change your attitude. Remember that all this hard work will be in service to yourself, not an employer. While the risks are on you, so are the rewards.
One of the most common excuses you’ll hear (or hear yourself saying) is that it’s “just not the right time” to start a business. The truth is, there’s never a truly “right” time—you can always find some reason that today, or this month or this year isn’t ideal for launching your venture.
But like beginning a diet on a Wednesday or joining a gym in February, the trick is to make your own right time. Microsoft was born during the oil crisis of the 1970s, while Airbnb and Uber were founded in the depths of the Great Recession. Remind yourself that the success of your business will depend not on “the times” but on you.
The Realities of Entrepreneurship
It’s true that anyone can become an entrepreneur with enough grit and persistence. Most entrepreneurs with solid ideas have a good chance of becoming successful if they remain adaptable. But it’s also important to realize that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship.
If you’re intimidated by the stress, inconsistency and long hours associated with startup life, or if you truly love your day job and you’re afraid to leave, maybe business ownership isn’t right for you. That said, if you feel the pull of entrepreneurship but keep making excuses to avoid getting started, you owe it to yourself to challenge those excuses and try to move past them.