So you’re thinking about how you can start your own online business. You’ve heard the success stories, studied up on the execution and learned everything about it. But, for some reason, you just can’t force yourself to take that first step — and there’s one simple reason why: fear. After all, per Fortune, 90 percent of startups fail, according to the former owners themselves. And, even if that stat isn’t true, starting your own company is always going to be risky. For some people, that risk is what keeps them from following their dreams.
However, according to LaTisha Styles, president of Financial Success Media, you shouldn’t let fear and self-doubt keep you from your goals. In fact, failing should be expected when starting a business, and all the greats have been there, from Steve Jobs to Oprah Winfrey.
“Failure is not a negative thing,” Styles told Knew Money. “Failure is a learning process of what doesn’t work. And once you learn what doesn’t work, you can quickly move on to what does work.”
If you truly want to know how to start your own online business, here are a few more ways to conquer the most common fears. After all, being your own boss takes a lot of work, so the more info you have, the better.
This is the biggest one that keeps people from starting their own business. No one wants to be the person who starts a company, fails, and has to head back to the office to work the dreaded 9-to-5. But that’s exactly what happened to LaTisha when her blog stopped producing enough revenue to support her. She had to get a full-time office job again, which she hated, but she managed to rebuild her business again on the side. Today, her company now generates more than a full-time income.
“It’s actually OK to fail,” she said. “I’ve heard this analogy several times. An airplane is not on course 100 percent of the time. It’s constantly failing, and the navigation system is saying, ‘Hey, you need to course correct, you need to course correct, you need to course correct.’ And the entire way, from start to finish, the airplane is simply course-correcting until it reaches its final destination. So, that’s essentially how I view failure. Failure is a simple course correction.”
Everyone has a fear that their genius ideas won’t be considered so great in the eyes of others. After all, it’s one thing to be working passionately on a hobby in your spare time, and quite another to try to turn that hobby into a lucrative profession. Many people hesitate on their idea because they’re worried they don’t have enough experience, or that they’re not an “expert” in their field. Psychologically, it’s called Imposter Syndrome, and it keeps a lot of talented people from accomplishing their goals due to a fear of being seen as inexperienced, or worst, a “fraud.”
But, if you’re hesitating because you’re worried how others will think about you, you’re not seeing the bigger picture. Criticism is a fact of life, especially on the Internet, and you’ll never fully escape it. Instead of focusing on the negative, or waiting around for approval from others, change your mindset.
“If you wait for permission or wait for someone to crown you, the people that you could help, the people that you could impact, are essentially going without your help,” Styles said. “So one of my recommendations for that is to stop focusing on yourself and start focusing on the people you’re meant to help. When you do that, it gives you that much more courage to actually start your business and start helping the people you’re meant to help.”
This is the biggest factor that decides whether a business is successful or not, and it’s one that keeps a lot of people from taking that first step. After all, money is important, and you can’t gamble your future if you’re constantly thinking about how you’re going to pay rent. But starting your own company doesn’t mean you have to jump all the way in at once. If you have a full-time job, keep it and run your business on the side. Styles suggests saving up at least six months worth of income before you take the plunge.
“From there, really focus on having a really good money practice for the cash flow that’s coming in and out of your business,” she said. “So pay attention to the numbers, pay attention to what the expenses look like and where that money is going.”
Running a business isn’t always smooth sailing, and there are always going to be challenges along the way — but that shouldn’t deter you. Although it’s only human to blame ourselves for our failure, it’s important to try to look past that to see what strategic steps you need to take to remedy the situation. After all, all great CEOs and leaders have top-notch character traits, one of which is problem solving. You’ll never get anywhere if you’re constantly beating yourself up over changes in the market that you can’t control.
“Try to remove emotion from it,” Styles suggested. “If it has emotion attached to it, like, ‘I’m so frustrated, I’m so mad,’ or ‘I’m so angry,’ then sometimes the emotion will cause judgment, so you won’t be able to view it and see it objectively.”
All this focus on having a “side hustle” has been experiencing a backlash lately. Its biggest critics say people shouldn’t have to work 60 hours each week to fulfill their dream, which is understandable. Still, it’s possible to find time in your day to work on your side business without becoming a 24/7 work horse.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Just stop watching TV,’ but I find with my audience they’re not necessarily watching lots of TV, it’s that they’re spending a lot of time on everybody else but themselves,” Styles said. “So a lot of it is choosing to be a little bit selfish and to put yourself first. It will allow you to gain so much more time in your day so that you can build the business you want to build.”
If you’re looking for a little help, finding mentors or hiring a career coach is an easy way to learn the ropes from someone who also understands the business. You can find one from places like Find a Mentor. If you’re looking for something more casual, try joining a networking group of like-minded entrepreneurs — like Meetup or even Reddit. If you’re just looking for a little motivation to lift your spirits, the best business podcasts might help, as well as listening to the Self-Made Man podcast or watching the TedxTalks YouTube videos.
“I love listening to stories of people who have gone through the process and failed and picked themselves up and became a success,” Styles said. “If I ever feel doubtful of myself and the fact that I want to succeed and be successful, then I look at stories of other people and visually put myself in their shoes and understand that I’m going to be successful. I’ll be there, I just have to keep moving.”
All images via Getty
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