My little black book.
I used to have a small black notebook and many of my lunch breaks were spent in the café opposite my Covent Garden workplace, listing all the pros and cons of quitting my job.
I tortured myself with this ritual; for every reason I had for starting my own business I had two reasons not to. I was doing my own version of the ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine on myself and I was getting nowhere. I was asking myself the wrong questions!
This went on for months until, out of the blue, my father died and suddenly everything changed. He was there one minute and gone the next. A seemingly healthy 61 year old who played squash every week, ran 6 miles every other day and competed in half marathons every year. The answer was there, right in front of me.
‘What the hell am I waiting for, life is short’. So I quit the job.
Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. That’s what keeps most of us closet entrepreneurs out of the game and fear is all in the mind. In my 20’s I was afraid of nothing, but once in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s the thought of taking risks can be very scary. You doubt your abilities; whether you have the energy and the staying power, both mentally and physically, to start a new business so late in life – never mind the finances.
Now we have all heard other people say there is never a good time to start your own business. You will never be experienced enough, you will never have enough money behind you bla, bla, bla. Well I am here to tell you that it is always a good time!
If you ask yourself the right questions then you will know whether it is pain or passion that motivates you and if in fact you are ready to start your own business:
Pain or passion
Now I’ve had many jobs in my life I did not like and a couple I have hated, but that is not a good enough reason to start my own business. If you just hate your job, get another one!
Being an entrepreneur requires passion (lots of it), a clear vision of what you want to change in the world and a burning desire to be in control of your own destiny.
- Deep down are you unemployable? Even if your salary is great and the people you work for are great, is there still that feeling you want to do something on your own?
- Even on the good days are you still frustrated and unfulfilled?
- Maybe you have spent the last 18 years bringing up your kids but always had burning desire to do something for yourself, not for someone else.
- What drives your passion? Is it the freedom to control your own destiny or just pain? Try and list a few specifics.
I have a dream…
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
No one ever said it was easy being an entrepreneur. Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. I have a good friend I have known for many years and in that time he has come up with hundreds of ideas for starting a new business. The trouble was he never did any of them. Although he was convinced they were all brilliant ideas, and indeed many were, none got beyond the initial excited phone call to me.
Why? Because it’s not just about having ideas, it’s about making ideas happen.
Ideas are not enough. You need to do the research, do the long hours, take the pain, plan it out, test the market, and above all ignore the naysayers (and believe me there are lots of those),
- Are you willing to put in the time?
- Are you willing to blame yourself and not others if it does not work?
- Are you willing to learn from your mistakes?
- Are you willing to see any failures along the way as new opportunities to get it right the next time?
- Are you willing to answer the hard questions first?
If you can say yes to all of the above and you are still passionate about becoming an entrepreneur then do it. The critical ingredient is getting off your bum and doing something about it. It’s as simple as that.
Dream big my friend and never give up. Yours is a dream worth chasing.