Welcome to the multi-post series about how to start your own business! If you're here, congrats on being open to what could be the most important decision of your entire life. (I know it was for mine.) There is so much to cover within this topic, that I want to really focus on the most important, and also lesser-discussed, aspects of entrepreneurship. For this post, I want to start at the beginning - "the why."
First I'd like to say that most of you trying your hand at entrepreneurship for the first time will fail. I am not here to sell you the dream or some spectacular inspirational tale for how you will move mountains, make so much money, or tell you that not having a boss is the best ever! It's just not true for everyone. The most recent data shoes that approximately 70% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years. The odds are not fantastic, and the truth is, most people don't have the stomach for this. It's unreasonable to look at your one super successful friend who is the outlier or one reason or another, and assume you will have the same journey. You won't - because no journey is alike.
Entrepreneurs sometimes get a bad rap, because there are a lot of fakes out there, especially on social media. They're often telling you they are making way more money than they are, are completely inauthentic about how they got where they got, and are trying to prey off the wide-eyed naivety of want-to-be business owners, sucking them into all sorts of scams and pyramid schemes. As someone who has owned and operated multiple successful businesses for over 13 years, I can tell you the path to get where I am today was paved in the bumpiest road you could imagine, many sleepless nights, tight budgets, long hours, and stress that drove me to develop an autoimmune disease. Nothing about entrepreneurship is glamorous for a very long time. I'm sure right now you may be thinking some combo of "WTF, maybe I don't want to do this" and "why TF are you telling me this if I am reading this to be inspired to take the leap." I'm telling you this because it's the truth and I'm not a bullshitter. DO NOT RUIN YOUR LIFE AND FAMILY WITH A DELUSION THAT STARTING A BUSINESS IS AN EASY WAY TO A PERFECT LIFE AND FAST CASH. IT IS NOT.
Okay, so now that we've got that out of the way, and if I haven't lost you yet, then maybe you are one of the people who understand the risks involved and have what it takes to make it running your own business. So what is your "why?" Why do you want to try your hand an entrepreneurship? Why is your business idea valuable? How do you know you have the skills necessary to bring it to market? Why do you think this life path change is worth it? Those are just some of the questions that I challenge you to answer for yourself. In an effort to help, here are what my "whys" were when I opened my first business at just 22 years old:
Why do you want to try your hand an entrepreneurship? - Because I knew I never wanted to spend my life working this hard to build someone else's dream, instead of my own.
Why is your business idea valuable? - Because I did extensive research and market testing to determine it was a viable path, worked for competitors in my space to familiarize myself with the industry from all ends, and experienced first-hand demand for what I was offering.
How do you know you have the skills necessary to bring it to market? - My education, work experience, family lineage of entrepreneurs, passion for the business, and industry & community contacts, coupled with my unwavering desire to succeed against the odds, and do literally whatever it took to be successful, is how I knew the time was right and I had what I needed to make it happen. I was prepared for the worst and nearly foaming at the mouth for the chance to risk it all. (You've got to be a little crazy to want to be an entrepreneur, I always say!)
Why do you think this life path change is worth it? - Because I knew I was comfortable with living a few years of my life like most people won't, in exchange for spending the rest of my life like most people can't. Nothing rings truer to me to this day.
If you feel trepidatious about things at this point, that's a good sign you're not ready yet. Take some time and get more of your ducks in a row. But be careful not to get caught in what I like the call the cycle of "procrastination by preparation," a.k.a. don't just spin your wheels in a constant state of preparing that you never get off the ground in the first place. Maybe you have a more nervous energy inside you right now. That's okay. That anxiety is just telling you that you have a good handle on what's at stake, and a solid understanding of the risks involved. I would encourage you to push through. If your "why" is strong, if it is honest, if it is authentic, and if you are willing to put the time, talent, and effort into making it happen, I am living proof that it will.
Keep a look out for part 2 coming soon!