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Starting your own business can be a daunting proposition. You’ve got no guarantee of success, no giant company standing behind you to offer 401k plans and health insurance, and no paid vacation time. Yet the rewards of striking out on your own can be mighty.
Here are six reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to pursue your dream of launching your business…
6. Everybody’s Doing It.
Normally, going along with the crowd isn’t all that admirable. But in the case of launching your own business, you might find the idea that thousands of people do it every year comforting. In fact, according to Jack Sunderlage, Executive Vice President of National Sales for Grow America, for every 100,000 US adults, there are approximately 320 new businesses launched each month. A report released by The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor last year states that there are now approximately 400 million entrepreneurs operating in 54 countries. If they were all able to successfully launch a business from scratch, you should be able to do the same.
In other words, when you’re standing on the precipice with a regular job behind you and the great chasm of entrepreneurship in front of you, know that thousands of people have previously made the leap and landed firmly on their feet.
Also, it’s important to know that if your business somehow doesn’t succeed, it’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your income-earning opportunities. You can always go back to the workaday world or launch a new idea; thousands of people are actually “serial entrepreneurs,” launching one business after the next. And you can be too!
5. The time is right.
Clearly, there’s a trend toward entrepreneurship in the world. And thanks to the fact that so many individuals are moving into the self-starter arena, there are oodles of options and support networks available to help support them.
The Small Business Resource Center provided by Entrepreneur magazine is a great place to start, whether you have a business idea in mind, or are just attracted to the idea of heading out on your own. It offers everything from informative articles, to inspiring success stories, to “start-up kits” that walk you step-by-step through the process of opening more than 20 different types of businesses.
SCORE is a non-profit organization that pairs mentors with small business start-ups. You can find someone to meet with face-to-face, or contact an email mentor. The service is free and even caters to niche entrepreneurs such as those in the 50+ age bracket or those in rural areas. According to a Gallup study quoted on the site, people with mentors are five times more likely to start a business as those who go it alone.
StartupNation is a free website offering a plethora of articles for beginning businesses as well as a forum that lets you seek out advice from other entrepreneurs. The step-by-step section of the site is particularly useful.
The United States Small Business Association (SBA) also maintains an excellent website for entrepreneurs. Of particular note is the Small Business Learning Center where you’ll find a series of free mini-courses on everything from “Business Technology Simplified” to “Take Your Business Global.”
4. Low Overhead.
There was a time in America when starting a business almost always involved renting or purchasing space and manufacturing a product. These days, thanks to the Internet, there are dozens of ways to launch a business right from your chair. Even if you choose to sell a physical product, there are plenty of services that will warehouse it for you, ship it to your customers through automated online ordering, and even handle your customer service requests for you. The result is that you can keep your legwork and your overhead to a minimum.
The Internet can also be a great tool for testing a business idea before you spend a penny on it. You can post your idea in any of the forums on the sites above, create online surveys about your idea through SurveyMonkey, or create a free Facebook page for your business and ask for input about your idea there. The earlier you involve people in the business creation process, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid common pitfalls AND earn loyal customers when you do launch.
3. There’s money out there.
In addition to finding advice, support and inspiration for your business idea on the Internet, you can find something equally important: cash.
Gust provides one of the easiest ways for you to find angel investors. You simply create a profile about your business accompanied by a video pitch. It then allows you to send that information to dozens of potential investors who might be interested in backing your venture.
In terms of crowdfunding—the process by which you raise small amounts of money from lots of people—there are several websites worth checking out. If you’re a recent graduate, Upstart allows you to pitch your idea to a pool of backers who can fund your business in $100 increments in return for a share of your future income. If your days of dorm rooms and dining halls are far behind you, Kickstarter is a good place to turn to seek funds for your idea. You simply set up a profile of your product, service or creative endeavor and promise investors a series of stepped-up rewards for funding you.
For the sheer fun of it, check out Grow America where you can enter entrepreneur-specific contests that can earn you thousands if you have the knack for creating a great pitch.
2. Regret can be more costly than any potential business losses.
Mark Twain once said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
When planning your business, you’ll naturally assemble a battalion of numbers, spreadsheets and reports to evaluate the potential profitability of your idea. In doing this, you may come across the idea of opportunity cost, a basic principle of economics that essentially says every decision you make comes at the cost of the option you didn’t take. Put simply, if you decide to go to the library on a Saturday night for example, your opportunity cost may be a night of karaoke with friends (or a chance for romance!). While opportunity cost can be a useful tool in evaluating the finances of your business, it’s also worthwhile to apply the concept to the idea of starting a business in the first place.
In other words, what would the cost be of NOT starting your business? How will you feel years from now knowing that you had a great idea that you never acted on? How will you feel when another entrepreneur makes millions off an idea you had years earlier but failed to bring to market?
If those questions don’t get you moving, perhaps this quote from another literary luminary might: “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.’” —Kurt Vonnegut.
1. It just might work!
According to the SBA, about half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more. So with careful planning and plenty of passion, there’s a good chance that your new business idea will be a success. Should that be the case, just imagine what your life will be like. You’ll be your own boss, make all the important decisions yourself and be able to structure your life in a way that suits your priorities. Plus you’ll be able to pursue your own passions rather than those handed down to you from the honchos of the corporate circus.
Apple guru Steve Jobs perhaps said it best: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”