90% of start-ups will fail. 80% will crash and burn. Why anyone starts their own business is beyond me and yet, I have…multiple times. That being said, my profit margin has always been very small. I have started multiple business with the attitude of, “as long as I make my money back I will be happy.” But I am tired of just making my money back. I want to build something successful and sustainable and yet, I find myself at a cliff’s edge needing to jump all the while not knowing in what direction I should be jumping and my legs paralyzed by fear. I am looking at the view overcome by five big obstacles of entrepreneurship.
I don’t know what I have to offer.
This is one of my biggest obstacles. I don’t really know what it is that I am offering. I have my hands in so many entrepreneurial pots that instead of selling one thing really well, I flounder without profit in many different areas. This lack of clarity inhibits me, then, from distinguishing myself from the competition. If I don’t know what I am selling, I cannot know who I’m up against – you can see the vicious cycle that I have created and entrapped myself in.
I have forgotten how to have meaningful conversations.
One key factor of success in business is dialogue or customer engagement. I am not just talking about 140 character tweets but REAL interaction. I don’t get out much, which means, I don’t have a whole lot of adult conversations but this needs to change. I need to re-learn how to have conversations that engage the person I am talking to, makes them feel important and builds a trusting relationship.
I am afraid of losing relationships I don’t even have.
Being an entrepreneur you are constantly caught in relational conundrums. Relationships are what will sell your product, however not only is being an entrepreneur a very lonely business but it can also be an alienating business. Once people find out that you are selling something they avoid you like the plague. It’s like there is this unspoken rule that Joe will be your friend as long as, under no circumstances, you ask him to buy your product or services. Sure you can recommend a mechanic or the latest craft beer but do not ask him for business. Often times, Joe isn’t even a close friend and yet, I fear that if I mention that I am selling something, he will sever the relationship and I will never hear from him again.
I am afraid to commit to goals.
There is a plaque that hangs in the house I grew up in and it says, “He who expects nothing shall never be disappointed.” Depressing isn’t it? And yet entirely true. I am afraid to set lofty goals because I hate failing. I hate having to say, “I didn’t make it,” “I didn’t get there,” or “I fell short”. I know that I need to set goals, write them down and focus on them every single day and yet I am conflicted by my own insecurities. Can you relate?
I am afraid to take ownership.
Because I am floundering in so many different pots, it is also difficult to know where or how to invest my time and money. It scares me to put all of my eggs in one basket for fear that I might fail. When I was in choir, my conductor always used to say, “if you are going to make a mistake, make it big.” In other words, own your mistake – at least you know you have given it your all. I need to own my business. I need to believe in my business and believe in myself and furthermore, I need to put my money where my mouth is. Now here is where we get down to the nitty-gritty and I bare my soul. There is this conference that I want to go to. Why? I don’t know. I suppose because I am really attracted to the person that is putting it on (in a completely business-mentor type of way) and for some reason, I feel that if I go I would be deeply encouraged, would learn a thing or two about entrepreneurship, would gain some insight on how to bring clarity to my business and hopefully would have a rockin’ good time on top of all of this. But it is expensive – as all conferences are and so I don’t feel that I can really justify going. In my own endeavors (as opposed to those I support on the periphery) I find it extremely difficult to take big risks but maybe it’s time for a change.
Now it’s your turn. What obstacles keep you from succeeding in life, or in business and how do you overcome them? I would love to hear from you.