Directly out of college, Annette and I started our own business. We purchased a pop culture retail store. Retail is, in my opinion, one of the hardest businesses available. Given that neither of us had studied business, I immediately began reading business and marketing books and magazines. I joined professionals organizations that related to our industry. I found experts and I solicited and listened to their advice. I quickly gained a decent amount of business knowledge.
After several years, when the collectibles business took a nosedive, we decided to get out and shut the store down, but the knowledge I gained was invaluable. For a time, I hung a shingle as a business coach. I helped new entrepreneurs pursue their passion. Many people who want to start their own business are content-experts, they are knowledgeable about their product or service line, but often lack basic business skills, such as financial planning, marketing or organization.
Like any business, it was different than I imagined it would be. As it turned out, what most people needed more than business advice was just plain cheerleading. Many people seem scared of doing their own thing. While they may have a passion they want to pursue, they like the security of having someone else make the tough decisions and give them a nice paycheck for successful executing their duties. And, this is fine, if they are happy with that.
I meet many, many people who (say they) want to go out on their own and do their own thing. They have a basic understanding that working for someone else only enriches their boss, but true potential lies in creating their own business. Or, they may just have a passion for something and would much rather be doing that than whatever they are doing for a paycheck.
Yet, they do not do it. They might make plan after plan and set deadline after deadline to step out on their own, yet there they are, year after year, stuck in their cubicle. There is always some excuse. Or, they just do not know where to start and are unable (unwilling) to figure out how to find out.
So, I find myself many times just saying, “you can do it!” I tell them to just go to sunbiz.org (or whatever your state’s business registry is) and register a name. It usually cost less than $100. Get their business cards and go.
Of course, there is often more to it than that, financing of equipment, acquisition of clients, hiring of staff, finding of location, etc. The thing is, all of that is doable. Thousands of people no smarter than them do that every single day. They can do it, too. I say that and I see fear in their eyes. Their breath catches in their throat. They stutter. But, but, but…
Often they tell me I make it sound so easy, and I assure them that it is. Of course, the truth is that it is harder than they can imagine, but not in the ways they think it will be, and the fact is, they can overcome all those hardships with perseverance, but they have to get started. They usually cannot even articulate what they are scared of. Failure probably. Looking like a fool in front of their peers. Monsters in the closet.
But, what they don’t seem to realize is that the only true failure is failure to start. You only fail when you give up. Until you give up, failure is only experience disguised as mistakes. As long as you continue to learn from those mistakes and continue to push forward, you have not failed. Success is always built on a mountain of failures, nobody gets it right the first time. So, get out there and start failing! The sooner you start failing, the sooner you build your mountain to success.
You CAN do it. You CAN continue to fail until you figure out all the ways not to do something, grinding it down to the only remaining way to do it right. It really isn’t that hard, but it is harder than you can imagine in ways more rewarding than you can possibly believe. So, go you!