As a society, we value money above all else. Even things like oil and gold, substances deemed precious the world over, are revered as much for their monetary value as they are for their actual function. Given our dependence on currency, there are a few ways you can go about earning some. You can exchange your time and labour for money, also known as having a job. You can perfect a skill to the point where people are willing to pay you money just to see you perform, as with athletes and musicians. Or you can do what those of us incapable of doing any of the above things do, which is to go into business for yourself.
Everyone daydreams of starting a business, which is normal. Even if you enjoy what you’re doing and are well compensated for it, it is human nature to want to work for yourself. The idea of paving your own way is engrained in us culturally, and yet while no one ever says, “I want to be a piece of a giant, multinational machine when I grow up,” that’s usually what happens. If you’re one of those people who want to be their own boss, pulling the trigger and making it happen is hard.
There is no bad reason to catch the entrepreneurial bug, but some are better than others. If you simply had a bad week at work or have a boss you dislike in a career you otherwise enjoy, that’s probably not enough to motivate you to really throw yourself into creating something on your own. Do you do something so well that you could leave the confines of a corporation and still make money? Have you thought of something that doesn’t yet exist? Do you want to change the world? Do you see few other viable options?
No entrepreneur has ever launched a successful business based on the first idea that popped into their head. The road to success is paved with dozens of failures, even if most of your ideas never make it out of your own head. Getting the gears turning is the first big step to eventually launching any business. It may require months or years of tinkering or revision, or it may all of a sudden come to you. Either way, you have to get into the mindset that you’re going to create something.
Starting a business is a lot like having a child, in that as soon as you announce it, everyone has an opinion as to how you should go about handling it. Some people will have good intentions, but their advice will be so far from what you envisioned that you’ll wonder if they actually listened to your idea to begin with. Others will criticize or outright chastise your idea, dooming you to failure or writing you off as someone a few cards short of a full deck. That’s OK. Since so few people ever actually do what it is you’re trying to do, they may just be jealous of your decision to pull the trigger and strive for greatness. It could also be that because they’ve always worked for an employer, they’re almost incapable of wrapping their heads around the idea of making something from nothing. Either way, you can’t get discouraged. That’s not to say there aren’t volumes of good advice out there, but assuming you put any thought into it at all, it’s ultimately your vision and yours alone.
The biggest barrier to entry in the start-up world is the perception of cost, and at one time that was a very real barrier. If you wanted to open a store, you needed retail space and product to sell. If you wanted to manufacture something, you needed materials and equipment. Thanks to the internet, that cost barrier has morphed into more of a cost speed bump, especially if you’re looking to provide a service rather than a good of some kind. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you read about tech start-ups raising millions of dollars in funding, but if you’re willing to hack it at the start, you simply don’t need that.
Coming up with a sound idea is unquestionably tough, but actually getting off your butt and making it happen is even tougher. It’s easy to get complacent by having a winning idea that can never fail because you’ll never test it. You also won’t make any money that way. That first step, be it writing some brand copy or simply buying a domain name, is the hardest you’ll take, but once you do, the floodgates will open. If you truly believe in your idea, take the first step, and then aim to accomplish one or two things per day. You’ll be amazed how quickly things will snowball.