There is a plethora of advice about what you need to do to start a business. But sadly, most of us are still caught in some very real fears that prevent us from taking action to start, even though we know it’ll be good for us.
Here are 5 things NOT to do when starting your business.
All five of these hit close to home for me, so don’t worry that you’ll be the only one 😉
1. Not Discussing Your Ideas with Anyone
When you hug your ideas close to your chest for fear that people will steal them or that people will laugh at them, you are doing both yourself and your community a disservice. Ideas are not meant to stand alone in isolation. Ideas are meant to grow. And they can only grow when they are shared.
You don’t have to share your ideas with the whole world if you’re not ready. But do have a close group of friends, family or community members with whom to share and bounce thoughts off. This will help you perfect your ideas, get constructive criticism from the people whose opinions you value and allow you to stay flexible with your plans.
2. Not Starting Because You’re Too Afraid You’ll Attract the Wrong Audience
I am SO guilty of this one and if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I started a business and left it. I started a Facebook Page and then shut it down. I appeared in some videos and then took them down. Why? Because they all attracted the wrong audience! I learnt it the hard way, but to not start a business because you might attract the wrong audience is not going to help you either. Here’s why. All those failed starts and stops were what I needed to see which ideas were going to work in the market that I’m in and which ideas weren’t going to work. Without attracting the wrong audience first, I may not have gained clarity about who the right audience for me was!
So please don’t worry about your audience – as you gain clarity in your business and start talking about the things that matter, the right audience will be naturally attracted to you.
3. Not Starting Because Things Aren’t All in Place Yet
You’ve heard this one before. The state of analysis paralysis. Most of us fear the unknown and since starting a business is one of the ultimate unknowns, it’s natural to give in to procrastinating in the name of perfection. I think there’s a fine line between “Just Do It” and “Make a Plan”. I like to call it “Plan as you Do It”. This is how it works:
You take step 1, which could be a simple step like deciding on a name or a website or a target audience. Then when you are all done with Step 1, you figure out what Step 2 should be. Perhaps it’ll be meeting like-minded people. Perhaps it’ll be signing up for email newsletters in your industry. Perhaps it’ll be writing a blog post on the topic. Small steps lead to big steps and you don’t need to have all the steps figured out in advance, that’s the beauty of the Plan It As You Do It model!
4. Not Doing Community Building Because You Don’t Have Something to Sell
Seth Godin said it best in his book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us:
Building a tribe, or a community, around your ideas is a super important part of one day running a successful business. And that’s because people need guidance and help and they want to trust others who have the passion and strength to see things through. People need passionate leaders in every sphere.
If you are at all passionate about your business idea, you need to start communicating those ideas, so that your tribe will start to form around you. A tribe formed around shared passions and interests is in a much more trusting position to eventually buy your products or services. And so eventually your tribe becomes your customers, but more than that, they become your trusted, loyal community. Interdependence is where the gold is.
5. Not Starting
Pretty much says it all. There are a million reasons why we don’t start – financial, emotional, logistical, spiritual, fear-based, etc etc. Personally I’d rather start and fail than not start at all. The lessons you learn from failure are more far-reaching than the non-lessons from inaction. And if you believe, as I do, in the theory of each small step having a bigger outcome than you could have imagined, then you’d know that even if you try to start, even that is something. Even discussing your ideas with a support group is a start. No matter how you weigh it, starting outweighs not starting.
I’ve faced all these fears at one time or another. I’ve started and failed. I’ve built communities and disintegrated them. I’ve agonized over business names, product names, website URLs, logos and what not. But at the end of the day, I recognize each delay for what it is: the excuse of not starting.
So, will you start or will you make an excuse?