5 Terrible Excuses for not Starting your Business
By Kwame Kuadey
It's fascinating to watch people describe their entrepreneurial dreams. They get animated about how their business is going to change the world. I am sure you have a friend or family member that is full of business ideas who always talks up your ear about how they are going to make it big one day. The truth is that all they have is a dream - an idea. We all have ideas. The difference between entrepreneurs and dreamers is action. Until you go out there and start that business, all you are doing is dreaming. There is nothing wrong with dreaming - we all do. But don't be deceived, ideas are worthless. The only way to know if your idea has any value is by taking the plunge and starting a business. That’s how you will discover if there is a market for that product or service you've been dreaming about.
Whenever people talk to me about their ideas, the first question I ask is “when are you going to take the plunge and actually do it?”. You will be surprised how many people come up with excuses about why now is not a good time to start a business or what is holding them back from starting that business and actually going for it. I have compiled a list of the top five excuses I have heard over the years. Here they are:
1.) I Have Obligations
One of the top excuses you hear from dreamers is that that they have a responsibility towards their family and cannot bet the farm on starting a business. They will sometimes tell you that perhaps once the kids get a bit older, they will take the plunge. Well, guess what? Having a family has not stopped countless others from starting a business. In fact, according to Inc. Magazine, the average age of first-time entrepreneurs is 40, which means most probably have kids. I am not saying you should cash in your kid's college savings or the family emergency fund to start a business but there are ways you can start a business without quitting your current job or betting the farm.
2.) I Need more Education
One of the lies we tell ourselves is that once we get that M.B.A. or Business Degree, we will be ready to start a business. That’s not true. There is nothing wrong with getting educated about running a business but the best education you will actually get about running a business is actually running a business. No amount of classes, degrees, magazines, books or seminars will over prepare you adequately for entrepreneurship. The best education in business is on the job training. That’s because the learning is in the doing.
3.) What if I Fail?
Being in business is risky and the risk of failure is real. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 80% of businesses fail in the first year, which means only 1 in 5 makes it past year one. But that statistic actually makes sense if you look at it the right way. Being in business is about solving a problem in the marketplace, at a price customers are willing to pay. As General Colin Powell famously said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." Similarly, no business plan survives contact with the customer. The only way to know if you are solving a real problem in the marketplace is to put your product or service in front of the customer and get their feedback, and tweaking your plan until you get it right. Therefore the first few years of every business is about a search for the right business model.
Some businesses make it and most don’t. It does not mean those who did not make it have failed. The most important thing is the courage to try. As sad as it is for the end of the road to come so early, it actually saves you time and money to find out sooner than later that your idea is not going to go the distance. But the lessons you learn about yourself through the process are invaluable and will come in handy you start another business. That’s why even you know that only 20% of businesses make it past the first year, it’s still worth taking the plunge. Your idea may be the one that takes off. But you will never know unless you try.
4.) I'm too Busy
Of all the excuses, this is the one that frustrates me the most, because this is the one we have the most control over. If you want it bad enough, you will make time for it. You may find yourself pulled in so many directions - including demand for your time from your job, kids, friends, church and social events etc. However, you are the only one that can decide what is important to you, and if becoming your own boss is that important, then you will find a way. If your current job is the holdup, then find another job or put limits on how much you are willing to kill yourself to make your employer's dream come true. If it's family, then maybe you stay up an hour or two when everyone goes to bed or wake up early before they do and work on your business idea. If your commitments at church are what's sucking up all your time, then cut back. Working for God is the ultimate sacrifice you can make but remember, you have to give God something to bless. Doing nothing about your idea will yield exactly that, nothing. If it's your friends that are holding you back, maybe it’s time to find new friends that are trying to get somewhere in life. My point is that time is actually the one thing you have control of, so stop using that as an excuse. Make the time.
5.) Someone "stole" my Idea
Have you had an idea for a while and then one day you wake up to see that someone has started the same business you were planning? It even hurts more if that person is in your town or area. You then begin to suspect that someone close to you "leaked" your idea. I once encountered this would-be entrepreneur who had this idea for a video conferencing service for prisons, so that families can easily connect with their incarcerated members. She held onto the idea for a while and shared it with everyone in our entrepreneurial networking group. One day, she was listening to the local news and found out that someone had started a business doing exactly that. She was understandably devastated. But what surprised me was what she did next. She spent the next month or so trying to investigate who in her circle leaked her idea or how this person came up with the idea. She suspected that some of the people in the prison system she talked to may have leaked her idea.
Which brings me to my main point. First, there is rarely a new idea under the sun. There are over 7.6 billion people in the world, with 325 million people living in the United States. If you've thought about a business idea, chances are someone in your town, city, state or country has the same idea or something close to it. So, until you get out there and start that business, all you have is an idea and ideas are a dime and a dozen - worth nothing. If you don't believe me, try selling your idea to someone and see how much you will get for it.
Second, the fact that someone started a business doing the same thing you were planning or something close to it does not mean there is no room for you. All it means is that you have to go back to the drawing board and evaluate if the person's solution to the problem is BETTER than yours. If yes, then think about a better solution or move on to your next idea. If no, then keep going. Competition is good and will only make your business better.
Finally, so what if someone stole your idea? That should never stop you from pursuing your dream. Business is all about who executes better. Yes, they may be working on your idea but they will never have the passion and the ability to execute on that vision as you would?. That is why I never have a problem sharing what I am working on. If you steal my idea, be ready for a real fight because you are never going to take the idea where I am going to take it - because it is my vision and I alone know where I want to end up so good luck.
By Kwame Kuadey