Have you been mulling over the idea you have about starting a business?
You think, “I could really start a company. I see these folks on Shark Tank. I could do that.”
You know that your corporate job is slowly crushing you, bit by bit.
But then you read somewhere that nine out of 10 new businesses fail, and it scares the hell out of you.
When you talk with your family and friends, they focus mostly on the risks, reinforcing your concerns.
You’re right to have some concerns, but there is no need to be scared, because you can beat the odds. Being an entrepreneur isn’t as risky as most people think, and here are five reasons why.
1. The Timing’s NEVER Been Better
This may be the best time in history to start a new business. The Internet and web-based software has made it so that a founder has everything he or she needs at his fingertips. You can set up a website with a few clicks after buying a domain and signing up for a hosting service.
Not sure how you want your site to look? You can buy a prepackaged theme.
Want to set up an email list to keep in touch with your customers? Try Aweber or MailChimp.
Need help with technology? Check out Odesk.
Not only are there abundant tools, but also a wealth of free information to help you in every aspect of your new business. Blogs can give you a ton of great tips, and if you want to learn more, you can take an inexpensive online course.
The Internet also gives you the power to attract customers to your new business in easy and inexpensive ways that were not possible just a few years ago. Using social networks like Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter can spread the word for free about your products and ideas.
You can also buy ads on these social networks or on Google to reach billions of prospective customers around the world. The Internet and its myriad available tools are amazing enablers for you as a founder.
2. Outsourcing Is Easy
No entrepreneur has all the skills needed for success. You’re going to need some help, for example, with website design, advertising, accounting or customer service. Hiring full-time employees can be risky.
But you don’t need full-time people — you just need help. It’s quite easy to find expert contractors for your new business through various Internet sites. Most offer reviews so you can find the best people for your needs.
3. Test Your Idea Until You Find a Winner
One common reason new businesses fail is that the founder thinks he knows the market needs. He launches a product, only to find out he was wrong.
The best way to reduce that risk is to test your assumptions. First, write those assumptions out:
- Who are your customers going to be?
- What are their problems that your business can solve?
- Why is your solution different?
- How are you going to reach them?
- How much will they pay you to solve the problem?
Then, before you launch a product or service, get feedback on these assumptions from actual customers. Do some interviews or surveys to get their perspective. You can also easily set up a landing page to see how people respond. Adjust your idea from this feedback.
Even if that feedback isn’t ideal, you can change the idea somewhat, which is called “pivoting” in the startup vernacular. Lots of great companies are a pivot from the original idea, including Twitter and Groupon.
4. Great Mentors Are All Around
Sometimes a new business will fail because the founder loses momentum and quits. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely thing — the ups and downs of running a small business are tough. This is especially true as a solo or lifestyle entrepreneur.
Get yourself a few mentors who understand what you’re dealing with and who can keep you on track. In your professional network or on LinkedIn, you can find successful people who have started their own business.
Maybe attend a meetup or networking event. There are many people out there who will give advice and assistance to keep you moving toward your ultimate success
5. Safety in Corporate Life Is Exaggerated
Part of the reason you may view starting a business as risky is because you perceive a corporate job to be “safe.”
Anyone who lived through the Great Recession or the Tech Bubble bursting in 2001 knows that jobs in corporate America are plenty risky. Companies these days are quick to lay off and slow to hire.
The best way to protect yourself is by starting your own business and taking control. It allows you to begin building an income stream and control your own destiny. There is nothing risky about that. And you don’t have to quit your job — you can start a new business as a side project.
Release Your Fears
Your fear of the risks of starting a new business might be holding you back from living the life you want and having your greatest impact on the world. Hopefully, this article has shown you those risks are largely misconceptions.
Up until now, you have been listening to that inner part of you saying, “It’s too risky” or “I might fail.”
Instead, what if you listened to Nelson Mandela?
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fear.”
What would happen if you lived your life this way?
Your dreams of starting a company and taking control are all right there in front of you, waiting for you to act. It is time.
(Photo by StartupStockPhotos / CC BY)
Great points Rob, especially number 5. It’s easy for people to forget that corporate life is no guarantee of security.
There’s nothing quite like doing your own thing! Scary – yes. Challenging – yes. But so worth it.
Reason #1 – The Timing’s Never Been Better….man, this is such an underestimated statement.
Ever see a documentary or read about the Industrial Revolution? Did you ever think, “If only I was around back then…I could’ve been right up there with Rockefeller”?
Now is your chance. The Digital Revolution is here. And it’s only just begun.
And most folks don’t even realize it.
From my experience, the folks who are aware typically fall prey to the poisonous notion: “my idea has been taken”. And they give up before they even start.
The Internet’s enormity is difficult to fathom. So we tend to think of it as suburban neighborhood. When in reality, it’s comparable to the Universe.
There’s plenty of room in almost every niche. And countless areas that remain unexplored.
Thanks for the awesome article Rob!
Blaine- I totally agree about the comment that “someone else did my idea” can be an obstacle to many would-be founders. First mover advantage often isn’t. Facebook, Airbnb, Apple iPod, Google- all were not the first in their market, just the best. Execution wins.
Thanks for the post Rob, and agree with Susan that number 5, which is a huge reason people stay, scared, in jobs they don’t like, is just not true in the modern world. Here’s hoping your post gives a few more people the courage to get their ideas into the world.
Hi Rob. I believe that “release your fears” is the most important, because if you don’t, then nothing will happen. But actually, that is the hardest thing to do! I’m fighting this everyday so I can live the life I truly want. Nice article 🙂
Susan- Thanks. I find that people compare their perceptions of startup risk to their “secure” corporate jobs. Most people seem to be forgetting about the Great Recession and all the downsizing and wage reductions.
Thanks for writing this, Rob.
I really resonated with #2 about outsourcing.
Boy do I wish I had followed this advice a year or so ago when I was getting started building my online business. I succumbed to entrepreneur “superhero syndrome,” trying to learn design, wordpress development etc from the ground up.
I should have been doubling down on my strengths: selling/pitching, writing and building relationships.
Now that I’ve done that, I feel much more in control of my progress, and feel a lot more “in the zone” than when I was floundering trying to everything myself.
No man is an island. So damn true as an entrepreneur, no matter the industry.
Mike- Thanks for the comment. You’re totally right that finding experts can release you to do the things you’re good at.
I also believe that the abundance our outsourced experts reduces the risk of starting something new. Today’s entrepreneurs can get stuff done quickly and keep their overhead low.
Great post, Rob! Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to make my business work, but as you pointed out, there are so many resources available. You don’t have to be able to do everything yourself.
Hey Rob – excellent post. Doing nothing is always the riskiest option