How to Overcome What's Keeping You From Starting a Business
Advice for conquering five big obstacles for newbies
Retirement is a great time to start a business, when you no longer have the financial, family and time obligations you once did. But many people just can’t bring themselves to do it.
There are many things that may be stopping you from becoming an entrepreneur, but that doesn’t mean they should. Here are five commonly perceived obstacles and how to move past them so you can see your dream business come to life:
Obstacle 1: You Think a Business Must Be a Giant Endeavor
These days, starting a business doesn’t necessarily require you to buy a space, have a brick and mortar store, raise a ton of money or hire employees. When you remember that, suddenly you realize that even the person selling Tupperware is running a business of her own.
The cost of starting up is especially lower than in the past if you plan to launch a website business. As David Deeds, the Schulze Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship of the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis told Next Avenue: "The cost of development for building a site and reaching audiences has come down dramatically. Go back 15 years and it was very expensive to build something and reach an audience."
How to get past it: Remember that turning your hobby into a business may be as simple as starting to charge for your signature jam, getting your business name registered at the county office and creating a business bank account so things will be easier for you or your accountant at tax time.
You may not be the founder of the next Apple or Nike, but that doesn’t mean your business isn’t a business. When you remember this, the idea of a launch becomes less daunting.
Obstacle No. 2: You Lack Direction
So you have a great idea for a business. Now what? Without some sort of direction, you’ll be stuck in Park for the rest of your life. The best way to create direction is to write a business plan — but it doesn’t need to be formal just yet.
Instead, start actively working on the outlines of a business plan.
How to get past it: Once you know what you need, you can begin figuring out how to get it. So, answer the following questions to create a loose direction for your business:
- What capital, if any, do you need to get started?
- Where will you sell and market your service or products? Online? In a store? On a seller site like Etsy?
- Do you need anyone to help your business get off the ground or is it more of a one-person gig?
Obstacle No. 3: Fear
The top fear, in a poll of 1,000 Americans, is personal failure. That includes financial loss, unemployment and being alone. For many people, fear is also a major roadblock to starting a business. Many entrepreneurs have to actively work toward getting over a variety of fears including fear of: failure; not being an expert; being considered crazy; not finding the necessary funding and more.
How to get past it: We’re often afraid of things we have yet to define. Starting a business may be a big cloud of gray to you right now, but when you tackle one thing at a time, you quickly see that most tasks are manageable and there’s little to be fearful of. To break through that cloud, ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I truly afraid of? This is likely a number of things, so write them down in a list.
- Why am I afraid of that? Be honest with yourself. It’s okay if the answer is, “I’ve never done this before.”
- How can I make it less scary or daunting? Come up with solutions, as simple or juvenile as they may seem.
Once you know exactly what you’re afraid of, you may not be as fearful as you once were. When something has a “face,” it’s easier to overcome.
Obstacle No. 4: A Lack of Organization
A business is a complicated beast that requires you to hone a whole new set of skills to be successful. One of those skills is organization — being able to see every moving piece of your business, from finances to production.
How to get past it: Draw an organization chart, starting with a simple list of all the moving parts in your business. I have a small personal training business, so my list would include:
- Managing myself and my clients
- Tracking marketing efforts
- Filing taxes quarterly (and on time)
- Documenting income
With a written list, you can determine what needs to be handled when, and by whom. This simple organization exercise can go a long way in getting your business off the ground.
Obstacle No. 5: Not Knowing Enough About Running a Business
Many entrepreneurs run up against this problem quickly. They have an idea, but don’t know where to go next. Luckily, a few key resources will provide immense value to your business as you get started.
How to get past it: The following people and websites can help and can also direct you to other resources:
- An accountant: This is the most important resource for managing finances, including taxes, income and payroll.
- Entrepreneur.com: This site is bursting with expert tips and advice about starting a business. Search and you’ll likely find the answer to any entrepreneurial question.
- SBA.gov: The Small Business Administration is your one- stop shop for finding grant opportunities, getting expert advice and downloading important business documents (for free).
Don’t let fear, your mindset or a lack of organization keep you from starting your business. Once you get past the hurdles, you’ll realize it was all worth it (and not so hard after all!).