Did you know you are living during the greatest time in history to start a business? If you have an idea, product or service to offer, it has never been easier to bring it to the market. Everywhere you look there are unlikely entrepreneurs making a name for themselves in the business world. Whether it is a 21 year old college student starting the worlds biggest social network from his dorm room, a single mom living on welfare creating one of the best selling books in history or a nine year old boy creating a cardboard arcade that goes viral, it’s clear the opportunities to start a successful business are endless.
Unfortunately, we are conditioned to believe the exact opposite. We are told by parents, teachers, mentors and several other well meaning people that starting a business is expensive, risky and destined to fail. This has created several widely held beliefs regarding starting a business that are simply not true.
In talking with prospective business owners, I have found there are three big myths that keep them from starting a business.
1. It costs too much money- Twenty years ago, this may have been true. Today, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
My business is the perfect example. Had I wanted to start a tax practice twenty years ago, there would have been steep costs associated with it. I would have had to rent an office, set up a phone line, pay for several different forms of advertising and then sit around and wait for customers to find me. When I started my business last year, I had none of those costs. I use email and Skype to work with clients remotely, which means no office space. I get free advertising from Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist and several other sources. And I don’t need a phone line outside of the cell phone I already had. Basically my only cost to startup was the tax prep software, which was less than $1,000.
For more information on how cheap starting a business can be I suggest the book “The $100 Startup”.
2. It’s a Huge Risk- It used to be that the safest career path was starting at a big company out of high school or college and staying with them your entire career before retiring with a nice pension to live off of.
If the Great Recession taught us anything it is that there is nothing safe about a job. You are always a bad economy away from losing it. The days of staying with one company your entire career, as well as pensions, are history. While starting a business certainly isn’t fool proof, at least your success or failure depends on your own efforts, not on the decision of a boss to keep you or fire when things get bad.
Besides, if worse comes to worst and the business fails you can always go find a job.
3. You Need a Great Idea- This one held me back for a long time. I knew I wanted to run my own business, but I kept waiting for the right idea to come. Finally I realized I had everything necessary to start my own business right now.
It never occurred to me that my CPA skills and experience were the key to a very profitable business. The natural career path for a CPA is supposed to be working insane hours for years at a firm before eventually becoming a partner and sort of owning the business. When I realized I could make my own path and go out on my own whenever I wanted, it was a game changer.
Starting a business doesn’t require some novel idea. It could be as simple as taking the skills you already have and going out on your own. Maybe you work in marketing right now and can start a freelance consulting business in marketing. Maybe you make really cool crafts that all your friends love and you can sell online. Whatever it is, I can almost guarantee you already have a skill or knowledge base that is the start of a successful business.
Owning a business isn’t for everyone and creating a successful one certainly isn’t easy. But if you have the desire and are willing to work your butt off at it, there has never been a better time to give it a go. Don’t let these three myths hold you back from starting your own business.
Question: What belief is or has held you back from starting a business?