The closer you get to the reality of being an entrepreneur the more your fear will kick in with all the reasons you should give up and go back to doing something less “risky.” Here are 5 tips to help you get out of your own way so you can start your business and create your ideal lifestyle.
1. Ignore that little voice telling you that you have nothing original to offer.
Unless you’re a computer programmer, it’s almost impossible to come up with something so unique it’s never been done before. Yet, only you can offer your exact service in your particular way because you have a unique set of life experiences and your own way of explaining what you do.
Your message will resonate with your ideal customer, it’s a matter of finding out who they are and ensuring they find you.
If you’re launching a product that’s completely new, you’ll have a harder time marketing because you’ll have to spend so much time educating potential customers about the benefits of something they’ve never needed or thought about before.
The business upside of being “first” is it’s easier to establish yourself as an expert in your field and you may get more media attention. The downside is you have to convince people of the need for your product/service before you can convince them to hire you.
2. Embrace the idea of competition rather than being terrified by it.
If you have competition before you begin, that’s a sign that there’s a market for whatever you’re thinking of doing. For example, when serial entrepreneur Steven Smith came up with Stash and later Tazo Tea, there were already plenty of tea products in the market.
No doubt there were sleepless nights wondering if he could compete with the likes of Lipton, Bigelows and Twining. No one would have blamed him for giving up before he started because of such well-financed competition.
Not only did he sell his tea for about 400% of the usual price to consumers (thanks to a good product with really smart packaging and marketing), he later sold these companies for $5 million and $9 million respectively.
When I launched Staging Diva® and entered the home staging training industry in 2005, it was already dominated by a few very large companies. I saw an opportunity to focus my training on a different angle (the business of home staging) while everyone else focused on teaching decorating. I was also the first to offer online training when all my competitors were offering hands-on courses which forced students to take 3 to 5 days out of their lives and travel.
Had I spent too much of my time and energy looking at the competition, I never would have moved forward.
Instead I kept my gaze firmly on where I wanted to go and carved out my niche which has earned millions over the years.
Other competitors have come and gone. One company was financed by Ashley Madison (the website that helps married people have affairs), which meant it had way deeper pockets than I do. It lasted about two years, taking a significant chunk of my business thanks to non-stop ads on HGTV. They’re out of business while I kept going because I had a better product and superior customer service.
New business competitors jump into the home staging training industry all the time, many of them copying my lead. I stay vaguely aware of what they’re doing, but I don’t waste a ton of energy following their every move. As long as I keep being a leader in my field, my following will continue to grow. My competitors are a reminder to stay sharp and on top of my game.
3. Confront all your fears about the worst things that can happen if you fail.
If you’re starting a business that requires a big investment that will put you deep in debt, then you have to plan contingencies for failure. On the other hand, in today’s information economy you can probably find a business that requires little financial investment and that you can start on the side of another job. It’s no longer necessary to open a restaurant or storefront, buy a franchise, or start a manufacturing business to be an entrepreneur!
And, if you’re 40+, do you really want to work all the long hours those businesses would entail?
What’s amazing is how many of them have already put their entire retirement savings on the line or taken multiple mortgages on their homes.
Personally, I’ve never had the appetite for that much risk. I have always started businesses that required little investment (other than my time), with low overhead and high profit margins.
This way the worst thing that can happen if I “fail” is:
- I lose any time I put into the business that I could have invested elsewhere.
- I make less money and have to cut my expenses.
- I’m disappointed it didn’t work out the way I planned.
- I learn something that will help me in my next venture.
What about you?
What’s your biggest barrier to starting your business or what’s the worst that can happen if you fail? Or if you’re already an entrepreneur, what tips would you add to help people get out of their own way and move forward with their dreams? Please share your comments below!