In my practice, professionals frequently report feeling stuck in a career or corporate position that is not meaningful, enjoying or rewarding for them on a deeper level. Stay-at-home parents often express interest in self-employment as a way to return to the workforce with the flexibility and work/life balance it affords.
Many people want to start their own business. Few actually do.
Common obstacles and solutions:
1) Financial Anxiety & the Golden Handcuffs
Problem: Not everyone has a trust fund or a partner who brings in enough dough so they can start a business free of financial anxiety. Most have the responsibility of supporting themselves by themselves and possibly supporting others as well. Many fear leaving the security of a stable paycheck with benefits and taking the leap of faith into all the unknowns of self-employment. They have difficulty envisioning how to free themselves of the golden handcuffs their current job and make their finances work during the transition to entrepreneurship.
Solution: Get creative. For example, clients of mine have quit their 6-figure jobs to work the early shift at Starbucks to have some earnings and healthcare but keep their days open to launch their business. Others have made the switch to part-time freelance work while building up their business. Some have quite their job, liquidated their savings and taken the plunge. Many sell what they don’t need and decrease their overhead (from little things like canceling the home phone and cable to big moves like selling a house and renting something less expensive.) These temporary arrangements requires willingness to check your ego at the door to make your dream come to fruition.
I started my practice on a part-time basis while working a full-time job. I eventually asked my employer to work a 4-day week. I was nervous to ask but it turned out to also be a win-win because my company was going through a cash crunch. You never know what is possible unless you ask.
Keep your overhead low when starting your business. Create a website using a site like SquareSpace and make business cards through a site like moo.com. Work from home, conduct meetings at local coffee shops or consider an office co-op or sublease for an inexpensive workspace before signing an office lease. Use consultants and free-lancers before committing to hiring employees to help you. Market on the cheap via social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc. Use newer, less expensive technology rather than buying expensive equipment (like Square for credit card processing or a ScannerPro app rather than buying a scanner.) AT&T quoted me $20K for a voicemail system for 50 therapists, which I got through phone.com for $80/mo. Your overhead can grow as your business is able to support it. Don’t be a jackass and get a huge, gorgeous office until you have the clientele to support it, otherwise you will set yourself up for failure and drive your business into the ground.
2) Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt (FUD)
Problem: Fear of failure and unconscious fear of success. Uncertainty about the future that leads to overwhelm. Doubt in themselves, the business, etc. We live in a culture that breeds FUD, and it can be paralyzing.
Solution: Have a healthy respect for self-fulfilling prophecy. Where you put your thoughts is where you put your energy. If you look at problems and barriers, rather than solutions and options, you will be stuck. Detach from FUD through daily mindfulness and spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation. These will help you become aligned with your greater life mission.
3) Lack of a Clear Business Plan
Problem: Many people want to have their own business, but are not exactly sure what it would be. The have only vague concepts and the ambiguity leads to more FUD.
Solution: Make a list of your passions, interests and skill sets/strengths. Look for where this niche meets a need in the world.
Research similar businesses online. Talk with other small business owners (a local chamber of commerce can be a tremendous resource.) Leverage your professional network and have informational meetings with people in your field of interest.
Create a vision board. Imagine your business as if you had a magic wand. Where would you work? What would you day be like? The more you talk about it and envision it, the more it will take shape.
Utilize business plan software. Developing a business is much like creating a piece of art. You might have an initial concept that takes a different shape as you develop it.
4) Lack of Support:
Problem: Lack of people who believe in you (partner, mentor, colleagues, family, friends, etc.) A support system of negative Nancys could throw a wet blanket on your dreams and further fuel your FUD.
Solution: Unplug from people who do not support you and detach from people who are negative or toxic. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your business. Be direct with your partner about what you need—if you do not pursue your dream, you will put yourself at risk for depression and set up your relationship for resentment. Seek consultation form people who have experience and skills sets beyond yours to strengthen your plan. The more defined your plan, and the more confident you are, the more support you will have.
If you don’t believe your business will come to fruition or thrive, it won’t.