Whether doing my weekly radio show, teaching entrepreneurial classes, or doing personal coaching, I talk to a lot of would-be entrepreneurs these days and Iím discovering that many of them are suffering from what I call, I Donít Syndrome" or IDS.
IDS is a sad malady that affects many people who claim they want to start their own business, but never seem to get beyond just talking about it. The symptoms of IDS are a lack of belief in themselves, a fear of failure and ridicule, a misguided belief that lots of money is required to start a business, and lousy time management skills. IDS can even cause an otherwise intelligent person to question their own sanity. Itís a sad disease that prevents thousands of people every year from achieving their American Dream.
But there is hope. IDS can be cured simply by facing it head on and accepting the fact that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Donít beat yourself up if youíre more comfortable working for someone else. Just accept the fact that business is not for you and strive to be the absolute best employee you can be and youíll achieve success in that arena.
If youíre dead-set on starting your own business and IDS is keeping you up at night, consider the following symptoms and suggested cures.
"I donít have time to start a business. I hear this one all the time from people who spend five hours a night parked in front of the TV. Sorry, couch potato, you get zero sympathy from me. You must make time for whatís important to you, so if starting your own business is important to you, find the time to make it happen. I started my business from the corner of my tiny bedroom working between the hours of ten at night till whenever I passed out in the wee hours of the morning. Then Iíd get up and be at my day job at 8AM. Iíd work on the business during my lunch hour and on weekends. There are only so many hours in the day so you have to make the best use of what God gave you. When a spare minute pops up use it to work on your business; otherwise grab the remote and keep your day job.
"I donít have the money to start a business. Many people are under the misconception that starting a business requires piles of cash. Nothing could be further from the truth. Iíd wager that many of the Forbes 100 were started for less than $10,000; many for less than $1,000. When you start a business you should do so for as little money as possible. Put what money you have toward the things that are vital and backburner everything else. Become an expert at stretching every dollar until it screams. Instead of tying up your money in inventory try to negotiate 90 day terms with suppliers. Instead of buying fancy desk chairs park your can on a milk crate until money starts rolling in. Instead of signing a lease for office space that will tie up your first born for five years work from your kitchen table.
"I donít have the confidence to start a business." When I hear this one I know immediately that Iím talking to someone who will probably never even start a business. Letís be honest, everyone would start their own business if they had a 100% guarantee of success, but very few people would bet the farm on starting their own business knowing that most small businesses fail within the first five years. I knew that statistic going in and so did every other entrepreneur who threw caution to the wind and dove in with both feet. Fear of failure is the number one killer of success. But understand this: if you never fail, you will never succeed.
"I donít think Iím smart enough to start a business." If starting a business was rocket science all businesses would be owned by rocket scientists. You donít need an MBA to start a business. Many entrepreneurs, including me, never even went to college. I drove by a college once. It looked really hard so I kept going. Business success depends more on common sense and careful planning than book smarts. Donít cut yourself short just because you donít have a degree on your wall or an acronym after your name.
"I donít have the self-discipline to start a business. This is the most deadly symptom of IDS because it reveals the truth about the person making the statement. Succeeding in business is all about taking action without being told to do so. Youíre the guy or gal that makes things happen. You must have the self-discipline to jump out of bed every morning ready to take on the world, which may mean calling on customers, managing employees, making important decisions, and working 18 hours straight if thatís what the day requires. If you have to be told what to do and when to do it, business is not for you.
You can overcome IDS. All it takes is a little honesty and self-realization. And sometimes a good swift kick in the pants. Consider yourself kicked.