Posted by William C on Jul 12, 2010
I’ve been writing this blog and helping would be entrepreneurs for nearly two years now and one thing I’ve discovered is that you can’t really push someone to take the entrepreneurial plunge. Either you have the desire to start your own business or you don’t and most people can’t get over the uncertainty that’s involved with being your own boss.
Photo By Anirudh Koul
Recently, I went through each and every email that I’ve ever received on MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and found that the majority of people get stuck on 2 main things when starting their business. One, they can’t come up with a good business idea and two, they aren’t confident that they can succeed.
I Can’t Come Up With An Idea
I’ve found that most people who have problems coming up with good business ideas are self-deprecating.
- “I’m not that creative. How am I going to come up with something unique?”
- “The market is saturated already with what I want to do. Should I even bother?”.
- “I don’t think I have the skills to take on the competition.”
If you fall into this category, then I suggest you go and read Seth Godin’s book “The Purple Cow” for some inspiration. As long as there is demand in your niche and customers with money to spend, what you ultimately decide to sell doesn’t really matter as long as you make your business “remarkable” in some way. Choose products that you are interested in and put your own unique spin on it. I’ve personally sold many different things in the past and the one thing that I’ve found is that you can sell almost anything if you do it right. Even if your niche is already crowded, the amount of competition doesn’t matter as long as you can stand out.
If you take a closer look at our wedding linens business, my wife and I essentially sell wedding favors on our online store which is a saturated and competitive market. But even still, we have managed to carve out a healthy six figure profit and it’s been experiencing double and triple digit growth every single year.
I also want to emphasize that everyone is creative. Maybe you’ve gotten too used to working a day job where your boss simply tells you what to do and you don’t have to think that much. Maybe you are simply out of practice. Set aside some time to brainstorm and exercise those muscles instead of complaining about it.
I’m Not Sure That I Can Succeed
Overcoming doubt is huge part of the entrepreneurial process but doing research will only take you so far. Having confidence in your business idea is largely based on knowledge but at some point you need to just take a chance and go for it.
The good thing about running a business online is that it doesn’t cost very much money at all to begin. So why not just throw something up and see what happens? This isn’t like the old days when you had to take out a business loan to start a brick and mortar store. We’re talking hundreds of dollars, not tens of thousands. There really is no excuse. If you don’t succeed, tweak your idea or start something else.
The Key To Behavorial Change
Early on when my wife and I were brainstorming business ideas, that’s essentially all we did for a very long time….we talked about it. We got stuck in an endless loop of research and couldn’t push ourselves to take the plunge for the same reasons outlined above.
But then something miraculous happened. For starters, my wife became pregnant which put us under time pressure and gave us a sense of urgency. But the real key to our behavorial change occurred when we started talking to other entrepreneurs and shop owners.
In fact, I remember having a very specific conversation with a former college classmate of mine from Stanford about some of my ingenious business ideas. Looking back everything I came up with was kind of silly, the kind of business ideas that would never make more than some weekend spending cash.
When it was my friend’s turn to talk about what he was up to, he casually told me that his side business was on track to make over 500K in profit this year. And I was completely flabbergasted. This whole time, I had thought that his online business was just a pet project that made no money but here he was spouting out numbers that seemed way beyond what I believed that I could ever make. In fact, his business success made me uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to say because he seemed like he was in another league.
What particularly resonated with me was that my friend was a classmate, a peer of mine, and someone who I considered an equal. If he could start a website on the side while working a full time job, then I could as well. Once I realized this, I got a huge boost of confidence and started asking my friend a flood of questions about his business. And after hanging out with him some more, I came to the conclusion that I needed to think about my future business on a much grander scale.
Your Environment Is Important
What’s interesting to point out here is that your perception of business success and money are all based on your current context. Your goals and your potential are largely determined by the people you spend the most time with and how you were brought up. If I hadn’t spoken with my friend that day, I might still be wasting time on ideas that would only make me a few hundred bucks a month.
In fact, the secret to behavioral change is to hang out with the right people, people who will inspire you to try new things and who will push you harder. Your mindset and your limits are all relative to your environment. If all of your friends work in dead end day jobs, then chances are you will too.
Instead of making excuses and self-deprecating comments, start talking to people who start businesses all the time. I guarantee you that you will get inspired and start believing that what was once an impossible task will now be within your grasp. Initially, you might feel inferior or uncomfortable but getting over these feelings is the only way to grow.