Yesterday I meet with Alfonso Tinoco and Pato Bichara for our first lab of the Acumen Fund’s Leadership Essentials Course. Learning about Jacqueline Novogratz’s concept of Life on Immersion. We concluded that Fear is the most common excuse for not doing “Shit that Matters“. I remember Mike Michalowicz best seller, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and a great phrase on stop fearing and making excuses:
Excuses are a great mechanism to apply logic to our fears. They are simply the machinations we go through to defend our inner fears. I have heard and experienced them all. And they are all BS. All, that is, except one, but I’ll save that one for last.
— Mike Michalowicz
He also shares a list of what are we most fearful of when trying to startup a new business. While he doesn’t mean specifically doing social innovation or similar, it applies perfectly to any kind of business or life project:
1. The economy is not strong enough to start a business
Everyone is experiencing the same economy as you are, so you are on equal footing. If the economy is in a recession, buyers may slow down their activity, but competitors will also fall by the wayside. A weak economy is like a forest fire; it kills off many of the plants, but the seeds that take hold now have the most room to grow as the forest comes back to life. A weak economy is often the best time to start.
2. Entrepreneurship is very risky
Anything that you go into without preparation and knowledge is risky. So go in ready! The funny thing is, you are already mostly ready and don’t even know it. If you listen to your inner emotion, your calling, you will naturally be led down a path where you already have strengths. You probably have mastered many of the critical learning steps, and you’ll pick up all the new stuff like a sponge.
3. A job with a big company is far more secure
Tell that to the folks who got fired from Enron, Arthur Anderson, Bear Sterns, or any of the other hundreds of large companies that have collapsed or downsized. When you work for someone else, you can be fired at whim. If he screws up, you pay. When you work for yourself, you can’t get fired, and the only limit to your success is you.
4. I’m too old to start a company
So what are you going to do about it? Wait until you are younger? There is no time like the present. Life has yet to offer a rewind or a redo. Don’t live with regrets. Get started now, regardless of your age. The self-discovery process you will go through creating your new company is well worth it. Plus you can leave a little inheritance to the next generation.
5. I am too young to start a company
What?!?! Did you know that you could legally start and join your own business at any age? You literally can start your own company before you can legally work for someone else. One of my friends, Cameron Johnson, started his first business at age seven and incorporated his first company by age twelve. Why don’t you be the first to start a business at age six? No matter how old or how young you are, start today!
6. I won’t make enough money
A recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) stated that the average starting salary for an Accounting major is $46,292. Not bad. If you took that job and received an annual raise of 10% each year for the next ten years, you’d be making $120,069. Not bad at all. Now if you start your own company, your salary the first year will average at $50,000 according to World Wide Learn. Not bad either. If you run your company well and you choose to give yourself a 25% raise every year (I give myself an average of a 50% raise every year), on your tenth anniversary you will be earning $465,661. Now that’s sweet!
7. I don’t have the proper education
If you feel you need a college degree to succeed, you are sorely mistaken. I’ve met with PhDs from Harvard and dropouts from high school; their entrepreneurial successes were directly tied to their beliefs, wish, passion, and thirst to learn through the school of hard knocks. Your scholastic pedigree has basically no influence on your success. None!
8. I don’t have enough money to start
That’s great! If you had enough money to “properly” launch your company, I would fear you might go bankrupt. The fact that you have no money (or very little) simply means you need to apply your head right from the get go. There is a reason they say necessity is the mother of invention. Money covers up problems and weaknesses. Without money, you’ve got to bring your A-game every day. Lack of funds forces you to optimize everywhere and grow the right way.
9. The competition is too strong
My mother always told me that no two people are alike. She was right. If you think the competition can do a better job than you ever can, then you aren’t properly positioned to exploit your strengths. Find an angle to apply your strengths, your innate talents, and your passion in a way that no one else is doing, or no one else is doing well.
10. No one will buy my product or service
Good thing you caught that now, but it’s not an excuse not to launch a company. It simply means you need to reinvestigate what you want to do and decide a new way of delivering it so that you can build a customer base.
11. I am not ready
I agree; you’re not. You never will be. This excuse is simply a combination of all the others. When I ask people why they think they’re not ready, they resort back to some semblance of one of the other excuses listed. They are all nonsense. Go time is now!
12. Don’t start a business if your reason is to simply get rich quick.
Greed is not becoming and is not long-lasting. Regardless of when you are presented with barrels full of money, you DO pay for it. Even if you collect your money prior to any effort, like a lottery winner, such as, nature has an uncanny way of still making you earn it. If you’re lucky, your windfall may be earned through the rapid mastery of a new financial discipline. But all too often the earning comes in the form of despair, disaster, and bankruptcy.
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