Have you ever had recurring thoughts of doing something different in life?
Something that you are more passionate about? Something more fulfilling?
Maybe its the thought of starting your technology company? Or creating a new food company? Perhaps your own clothing line? Or even becoming the next hottest social media influencer?
But as days, weeks and months go by; you realise you are still in the same place and making little (or no) progress towards achieving what you desire.
If this sounds like you – rest assured you are not alone!
Over the years, I’ve had the fortunate ability to meet and mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. But for whatever reasons, there were some that while keen to pursue entrepreneurship, were discouraged by factors which prevented them from taking active steps to achieve their goals.
Here are the top 5 most common excuses I would hear that would-be entrepreneurs use to talk themselves out of following their dreams.
Excuse 1: You are afraid to step outside your comfort zone
People tend to stay with what they know, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But what defines an entrepreneur is the ability to step outside your comfort zone – and keep pushing forward regardless of the odds. Call it ignorance, call it desire or call it stupidity. There is a fundamental belief that the entrepreneur can achieve more. Sometimes they step so far outside the comfort zone they do not remember what comfortable feels like!
But don’t let this discourage you, the fact that your reading this indicates you still have a desire to chase your dreams. Remember that any challenge requires personal sacrifice and hard work for it to come to fruition. Don’t let social media trick you into believing successes are easy, and that success will come to find you. Sure there are exceptions, but for most of us, the result of our pursuits are a direct result of the hard work we put in.
Think of Usain Bolt, who is currently the worlds fastest man. In the 2016 Olympics, he won 3 gold medals and only ran for a total of 2 minutes. But for those 2 minutes of work – he had to train his entire life.
Now everyone’s circumstances will be different, and there is no right or wrong answer to how much work is required to make your dream venture come true. But the important thing is to allocate time and start slowly. You will not know if you do not try. And what is the worst that can happen if you try? You realise it’s not for you, and that is entirely OK.
If in doubt, try doing your venture as a side hustle initially to get some leverage before deciding if you will go into this full time. But you just need to balance and manage your time well. This may involve you working two jobs – a normal paid job in the day and hustling with your business at night.
Maybe your free evenings of playing Fortnite or watching Netflix will need to be re-evaluated, but by doing so, you will be making small steps to realising your dreams.
Excuse 2: You have no money to spend on your idea
We all know that businesses require money but don’t let that discourage you. There are ways you can start without putting in a lot of capital upfront first.
“Bootstrapping” is one such technique where you run your startup lean with the intent on growing with the capital it generates. Unfortunately, the downside to this method is that you may end up doing a majority of the leg work to get your startup off the ground initially.
However, on the upside, the advantages are numerous. It will allow you to test the market with your product or service to see what works and what does not. These trials will set the structure and give you valuable experience so you can then make informed decisions on how much capital you will need going forward or even how much money you will need to raise from Angels or Venture Capital (VC) to get to that next level.
Sharing expenses is also a possibility. Find someone like-minded that can help you achieve your goals and also share the burden of any expenses. Sure you may have to split equity with them in some way, but keep in mind that 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.
Excuse 3: You are scared of failing
Everyone is scared of failing. But it is only when we fail that we actually learn! Remember when you were a kid and starting to walk? Ask your parents how many times you failed to walk before you finally did. Learning as an entrepreneur is the same; sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know until you try and fail.
Keep in mind that it is not the act of failing that you should focus on, but rather the lessons you can learn from it to help arm you with the knowledge to become a better entrepreneur and a better human in general.
Over the years, I’ve failed more times than I can count – both personally and in business. But the important thing is not to let that failure define you and to keep pressing forward.
Excuse 4: You are worried about other peoples opinions
This often goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. We are often worried that our failures are visible to others – we have become a society that only posts our successes on social media.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands entrepreneurship. To be an entrepreneur means to go against the normal, which is why the road is generally misunderstood and is the road less travelled.
Your family and your inner circle may encourage and support you initially, but as time goes on, their attitudes and patience may change. The people you thought were friends may start to talk behind your back about how bad your products are and how you will never succeed in business.
Remember, people do not understand what they have never experienced. It is easy for someone to say that starting a venture is simple and criticise your product or service – when they have never done anything like that themselves.
“Remember people do not understand what they have never experienced”
For example, anyone can say that walking on the moon is easy, but unless the individual has been there before, they really have no idea what they are talking about. Know that the only opinion that you should worry about should be your own – because at the end of the day that is the sole opinion that matters.
Excuse 5: You can never measure up to others success
If you do not believe that you can do it, why should anyone else believe you can do it? It is common these days to continually compare yourself to your peers – to see how far you have made it in the “success” ladder.
However, how do you define success? Is it more money? stylish shoes? chic clothes? designer bags? luxury cars?
The critical point everyone misses here is that your journey in life is unique and different. But people tend to want to take the best parts of other peoples journeys and want to somehow combine them into one. It is like taking the best parts of all your favourite movies and making a new film out of it. Unfortunately, life does not work this way!
Continually comparing yourself to others will not yield any positive benefits. It would only serve to make you feel sad and depressed about your life. It is far better to have a clear perspective of where you are going with your journey and continue to focus on it. Approach life with a glass half full mentality instead of a glass half empty.
There is a saying that whatever you look for you will find. If you look for the negatives in your life you will find them – so instead look for the positives and be grateful. You may just find this changes your perspectives on everything.
In this article, I’ve shared the five common areas which I’ve found that are excuses that prevent would-be entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams. My hope is it will inspire you to re-evaluate those barriers and realise many of these are mental hurdles which you can overcome. I am always open to conversation, so feel free to reach out to me to chat about anything and everything.
See you on the other side!
– Jeff Chin