How to Get Over Excuses for Not Starting Your Own Business

How to Clear the Path to Start Your Own Business

••• Image (c) Dave McLeod/ Susan Ward

How long have you wanted to start your own business?

A few months? A year or two? More than a decade?

The world is full of two types of people; doers and talkers. Doers do. Talkers make excuses. If you have thought seriously about starting your own business but keep putting it off, this article will help you stop "talking" and get "doing".

Below are five common reasons why people put off starting a business—and the information you need so you can move past these excuses and get on with achieving your dream and starting your own business.

Excuse 1. I'm Stumped for an Idea

I used to find this excuse for not starting your own business jaw-dropping when I heard it because business ideas are all around you and it's not that hard to recognize business opportunities with a little practice.

And there are now reams of business idea lists available; for instance, I have articles that present hundreds of business ideas, from The Best Green Business Ideas through The Top 10 Home Business Opportunities. Browse through the possibilities and you're sure to find ideas that interest you.

But I've discovered that when people say this, what they actually mean is that they don't know how to pick out a good business idea and they're worried about pouring their time and money into a bad one. If this is your true excuse for not starting your own business, I have two words for you: business plan.

Many people assume that the main reason for writing a business plan is to try to get funding, whether applying for a small business loan or trying to persuade investors to invest. But it's not. The main reason for writing a business plan is to test the feasibility of your business idea. So as I say in 5 Reasons for Writing a Business Plan,

"the business plan is your safety net; writing a business plan can save you a great deal of time and money if working through the business plan reveals that your business idea is untenable. Often, an idea for starting a business is discarded at the marketing analysis or competitive analysis stage, freeing you to move on to a new (and better) idea."

So stop fretting about whether or not a business idea is a good one. Pick one that appeals to you and use the business plan to find out whether or not it's a good business idea. The Business Plan Outline will lead you through the process.

Excuse 2. I Can't Decide Whether to Buy an Existing Business or Starting My Own Business

Cut the Gordian knot of this dilemma by doing a little self-examination—and examining the competition.

First, about you. Running a small business is a lifestyle as well as a way of making money. So you have to spend some time thinking about what kind of person you are and what you're prepared to do and won't do.

For instance, think you'd like to start a bakery? Are you willing to get up every morning at 3 am. and get baking? Because if you're not, this is not the small business for you.

Think you'd like to start your own business by buying a franchise? Franchises can be lucrative but franchisees typically get to make almost no decisions about the operation of the business and have to follow a lot of rules—which might defeat the whole purpose of starting your own business.

What Type of Business Should You Start? will guide you through a decision-making process that will help you decide what type of business is best for you.

Second, about the competition. One of the biggest mistakes people who start businesses make is just doing what they want to do. In other words, just starting a business of some kind "because they've always wanted to do it" without bothering to do even the most basic market research.

Starting a doughnut shop next to a Tim Horton's, for instance. Or opening a computer sales and services store when there’s already four of them in an area with 50,000 people.

Unfortunately, I could go on and on. But those small businesses don't. So whatever your idea for starting your own business, start with a competitive analysis to find out what your real choices are. Then, if you really really want to start a computer business or a doughnut shop and you don't want to move and the market is saturated, your only reasonable choice is to buy an existing business or not do it.

Excuse 3. I Need to Do Some (More) Research

Research is good. In fact, a large part of writing a business plan is doing research.

And doing market research and keeping up with what the competition is doing are activities you'll keep doing throughout the life of your business.

But when it comes to starting your own business, there comes a point when the research you're doing isn't advancing your knowledge; it's just comforting you, providing you with the illusion that you're working towards the goal of starting your own business when really all you're doing is putting it off.

Repeat after me; "I can't know everything." No matter how much research you do, you will never be able to examine every variable and eliminate all the risk of starting your own business. At some point, having done your due diligence, you will have to step off the edge in the dark and discover for yourself whether it's a cliff or just a little curb.

Need more reassurance than just your business plan? Read 5 Resources You Need to Succeed and make sure you have all the essentials in place.

Excuse 4. I Don't Have the Money

Okay. But that doesn't mean you can't get the money to start a business from someone else. While it's true that the main source of money for starting a business is owners' own money (see 8 Sources of Business Start Up Money) there are a great many sources of Small Business Loans in this country, including the federally run Canada Small Business Financing Program.

How to Get a Small Business Loan explains how to increase your chances of successfully applying for money to start a business.

There are also a small number of federal government grants available for Canadian small businesses that provide money to start a business.

7 Canada Government Grants gives details of some grants your small business many qualify for.

First though, you should read 10 Things You Need to Know About Small Business Financing to streamline your funding search.

If your main financial worry about starting your own business is how to pay your bills between the time you start your own business and the time your new business actually starts bringing in money, 7 Financial Strategies for Going From Salaried to Solo provides ideas to make starting a business less of a financial strain.

Excuse 5. I Just Keep Putting It Off

The thing about procrastination is that it's often a symptom of some underlying problem. 

One of the main reasons people procrastinate is feeling overwhelmed, a perfectly logical feeling when it comes to starting your own business. Starting a business is a big thing and no matter what kind of business you start, there are all kinds of details that need to be thought about and attended to.

The trick to stopping feeling overwhelmed by a big task is to make it manageable by breaking it into smaller tasks. So think of starting your own business as a series of steps, not as one huge thing that you have to do. Steps to Starting a Business in Canada does the work of breaking starting a business into smaller manageable tasks for you so you can tackle one step at a time and make sure that you accomplish everything that you need to do.

Another common reason that people procrastinate is fear. I think this paralyzing, I-just-can't-force-myself-to-do-it fear is especially common with life-changing events such as starting a business. And unfortunately, it doesn't matter that you really, really want to do it; you're still fearful.

If fear is at the root of your procrastination, read How to Get Over Your Fear When Starting Your Own Business.

Some Last Advice About Starting Your Own Business

Top 10 Tips for Starting a Business presents my advice for ensuring that you start a successful business.

And you'll find a lot more material on starting your own business in Starting a Business 101.

Browse, read, and then, as the Nike slogan has it, 'Just Do It'. Starting your own business can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do, and if you want to do it, now's the time.