I realize that it’s a superlative title to a very subjective matter, but I have honestly felt for years that the talented and intelligent (and sometimes not even intelligent) people I have met that are successful all share one common characteristic. They’re all able to get past the single biggest obstacle that prevents most people from being successful entrepreneurs: self-doubt.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been speaking with a friend about business and they’ll open up about whatever it is they’ve always wanted to do. More often that not, the topic of discussion turns to owning their own business and being self-employed. Yet when I ask the question, “Why don’t you do it then?”, I get the same self-doubting answers that always go something like this:
1. Company X is already doing it – So what? There’s plenty of business to go around, and even if you’re interested in a very saturated and competitive market, there are still many ways to stand out and align yourself with the rest of the industry. There are multiple leaders in plenty of business sectors, and joining the ranks just depends on how hard you’re willing to work.
2. It’ll never work/I’ll never pull it off – Wow, nice effort. You’ve already defeated yourself without even doing the research it takes to find out if a business venture is possible. If you start out with that attitude then you’re right, you’ll never pull it off. How will you make it if you never even try?
3. Too much of a risk – As the old saying goes, without risk there can be no reward. Your mission is to take as much risk out of the equation as possible by planning, planning, and then planning some more. Have solid projections, do your homework, and if things don’t go the way you expect them to, there are always options to minimize the financial burden of selling off a company. If you know what COULD happen ahead of time you’ll be much more prepared for any situation that DOES happen.
4. Not educated enough – OK…so educate yourself. In my opinion it’s no longer necessary to have a college degree in order to be successful. Passion can outperform education anyday, and if you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing it’s definitely possible to educate yourself on just about any topic. While a college degree or similar training is a huge headstart to success, real world experience can be just as beneficial.
5. Worrying about what others think – So many times I’ve heard people tell me they had a great idea for a business, shared it with (insert negative person’s name here), and (insert negative person’s name here) said it wouldn’t work because (insert negative reason). Has this person ever conducted business in this industry? Then how do they know what will or won’t happen? It’s a good general practice to listen to the opinions of others in an attempt to gain wisdom, as long as you remember that they’re just that: OPINIONS. Make up your own mind and trust your instincts.
“Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” – Albert Einstein
I am by no means saying I have followed through with every business idea I’ve ever come up with. Some ideas really aren’t as good as you originally thought they would be after you do the research. But if you never even put the work into the initial phases of starting a business, you’ll never find out if you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
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