7 Lies That Will Keep You From Starting Your Business

There are a lot of people who talk about “one day” owning their own business. Yet, very few people actually end up even trying it. Why?

Usually it’s because they’ve chosen to believe one or more lies about starting a business. There are 7 common lies that people are telling themselves right now that will keep them from changing their dream of entrepreneurship into a set of goals they can accomplish.

Lie #1 – It’s Too Risky In Today’s Economy

Without a doubt, our current economic situation sucks. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start a business. In fact, starting a business during an economic downturn may be one of the best things you can do.

Why?

  • Your job is likely not as safe as you think it is. After all, layoffs increase during times of economic uncertainty. Right? Why not put yourself in the driver’s seat rather than depend on someone else for a paycheck?
  • It will force you to prioritize your spending. If you can operate a profitable business in an economic downturn, you can do it during times of economic boom.
  • Competition decreases during crappy economic times. It’s sad but true. A lot of companies go out of business in a downturn. Regardless of the reason, this creates opportunity for someone who is talented and willing to work hard to take on clients from failing companies.
  • It’s cheaper to start a business during a downturn. With so many businesses going under right now, it’s a great time to pick up needed items at an auction or on Craigslist. You can also negotiate better deals with potential vendors right now.

Here’s a fun fact: roughly half of the Dow Jones 30 were started during a recession. Now may be a great time to start that business you’ve been talking about.

Lie #2 – I Don’t Have Enough Time

How was last night’s episode of Gossip Girl? How insane was that Yankees game? OMG…did you see the preview for the next episode of Glee?

  • The average American watches nearly 4 hours of TV per day.
  • 49% of Americans say they watch too much TV.
  • 98% of households in the US have at least 1 TV.
  • 34% have 2.

You have the time. You just have to claim it from the other distractions in your life. If TV isn’t the problem, you may be working too many hours for someone else doing something you hate. This was my problem for too many years. I made a lot of money doing work I didn’t enjoy so that I could buy stuff I didn’t need.

Lie #3 – I Can’t Afford To Quit My Job

Who said you have to quit your job to start a business? Most businesses are started during nights and weekends. Feel like you don’t have enough time on nights and weekends? See Lie #2 above.

Oftentimes, it’s not an income problem that people have – it’s a spending problem. Their cost of living has risen to – or more likely above- their income.

So how can you prepare for being able to quit your job? Here are some things you can do to get ready:

  • Save up 6 months of living expenses in a money market account.
  • Create a budget for both the business and your household. Figure out how much money your business will need to make in order for you to survive.
  • Get out of debt and stay out of debt. It’s a lot easier to start a business if you don’t have to worry about creditors knocking down your door.
  • Practice living on less before you have to start living on less. It’s a habit you have to learn. There is not magic “live within my means” pill.

Lie #4 – It Takes Too Much Money To Start a Business

There are a lot of businesses that can be started on less than $1,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 dollars. You just have to start thinking differently about how you’re going to do it.

First, start small and then scale up. You don’t need to go lease a storefront just because you want to own “the best hotdog joint in town.” Instead, start by renting a cart and setting up shop on a busy street in the financial district downtown. Try out different recipes while minimizing exposure. Figure out if people even like your hotdogs.

Then, if things are going well, begin planning for expansion into a bigger market. Figure out how much money it will take to purchase your own cart. Start saving to buy one without financing it. Once you own your own cart, begin socking money away to buy another cart (in cash) and hire an employee to run it. Keep up this process until you own enough carts that you’re making enough money to open your storefront without going into debt.

Too many people use borrowed money such as credit cards, home equity, and personal loans to finance the opening and/or growth of their business. This is stupid. Figure out how to start smaller with less exposure and risk. It will keep you making smarter decisions because you won’t be able to buy things you can’t afford.

Lie #5 – I Don’t Know Anything About Running a Business

Neither do a lot of people when they start a business and it shouldn’t stop you from starting one.

Don’t get me wrong – you need to learn about running a business. But there are a lot of free or low-cost resources available to you:

  • Ask friends and family who have started a business to act as advisors and mentors.
  • Contact SCORE. They offer free small business advice and mentoring in-person and online.
  • Visit your local library and become and avid reader of business books.
  • Find and read blogs on business development, sales, marketing, freelancing, etc.

If you’re starting small and part-time as I suggest, you’ll have time to learn about running a business as you do it. It will take a lot of the pressure off of having to know it all up-front.

Lie #6 – I’ll Go Out on My Own When …

…my kids are out of the house.
…I retire.
…I blah, blah, blah.

No. You most likely won’t. Excuses like these are generally made out of fear. Starting a business can be a frightening thought. So rather than admit the fear and confront it, people mask it behind “sensible” statements such as these. They tell themselves that it would be unwise to do it right now.

These statements meet two needs:

  • We don’t want to admit we’re scared, so we tell ourselves and others that we’re going to do it…just…down the road. It keeps the dream alive – even if only on life support.
  • It makes us sound reasonable in our fear. After all, who doesn’t want to sound reasonable? Nobody wants to be seen as rash or foolish. This type of excuse enables us to lie to ourselves and others while maintaining a bit of self-respect.

Lie #7 – I Don’t Know What Kind of Business to Start

I think that most people have an idea of what kind of business they would start, they just don’t want to admit it in any other capacity than as a fantasy.

What do I mean by that?

Have you ever played the game with friends where you answer the question “What would you do if money weren’t an object?” Of course. We’ve all done it. And it’s fun because it’s “safe.” It’s all fantasy because, of course, money is an object. So we talk about our fantasy of starting our own sports memorabilia store, wedding photography business, bakery, PR agency, non-profit, etc.

The problem is that when we relegate our passions to the world of fantasy, we no longer see them as potentially viable businesses. We assume that something we’re passionate about can’t possibly make money. It just seems too good to be true that we could actually do something we love and provide for our families.

If you know how to answer that question in a cocktail party setting, then you know what kind of business to start. Now, granted, the business may take on a different form than in your money-is-no-object fantasy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the above steps to make it happen.

Share Your Thoughts

Are any of these lies stopping you from starting a business?

If you’ve already started your business, which lie did you struggle with the most? Should I have added additional lies to the list?

I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

About the Author

  • FANTASTIC POST!!! Wouldn't you believe it, my husband and I were talking about some of these lies the other day. You turned up some others that we need to be aware of. Thanks!

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Steph! I appreciate that. Lisa and I had gone through almost all of these at various stages. I struggled with the "I don't have time" and "I can't afford it" lies a lot early on. Just know that you're not alone! We're here to talk if you need it. 🙂

  • FANTASTIC POST!!! Wouldn't you believe it, my husband and I were talking about some of these lies the other day. You turned up some others that we need to be aware of. Thanks!

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Steph! I appreciate that. Lisa and I had gone through almost all of these at various stages. I struggled with the "I don't have time" and "I can't afford it" lies a lot early on. Just know that you're not alone! We're here to talk if you need it. 🙂

  • Melanie Tuscani

    Wow Travis, what a GREAT POST!!! David and I have discussed #2, 3, 4 & 6 NUMEROUS times!! Thanks for sharing this, I already sent a copy to David and am certain we will discuss furtehr tonight! 🙂

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Melly! I'm glad you found it helpful and I hope David does as well! Let me know if you have any questions I can help you with. 🙂

  • Melanie Tuscani

    Wow Travis, what a GREAT POST!!! David and I have discussed #2, 3, 4 & 6 NUMEROUS times!! Thanks for sharing this, I already sent a copy to David and am certain we will discuss furtehr tonight! 🙂

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Melly! I'm glad you found it helpful and I hope David does as well! Let me know if you have any questions I can help you with. 🙂

  • True x5, I think. Those who do not know how to run a business or are unsure of what to start – perhaps not a 'lie' but certainly ill-advised.

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks! I do see it as a lie when people tell themselves that they can't start a business because they don't know how. Perhaps I should have worded that one a bit better. 🙂

  • True x5, I think. Those who do not know how to run a business or are unsure of what to start – perhaps not a 'lie' but certainly ill-advised.

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks! I do see it as a lie when people tell themselves that they can't start a business because they don't know how. Perhaps I should have worded that one a bit better. 🙂

  • Excellent and straight forward points. You totally know how to call people out. In a good way:) Thanks!

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Courtenay! I struggled with a few of these before I went solo so I know what goes through peoples' heads. Sometimes we just need a kick in the pants.

  • Excellent and straight forward points. You totally know how to call people out. In a good way:) Thanks!

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Courtenay! I struggled with a few of these before I went solo so I know what goes through peoples' heads. Sometimes we just need a kick in the pants.

  • This is great and dead on. I think #3 resonates most with me – I'm burning the midnight oil on the side myself. I think at the end of the day, one is never truly "ready" to start a business. It's kind of like having kids – though I don't have them yet, I know there's only so much you can do to prepare. I think one of the toughest challenges is simply deciding to pull the trigger.

    Thanks for this! It's great to know I'm not alone. 😉

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Laura. I love the "kids" analogy. Though we've not had them yet, that's what we keep hearing is that you're never truly ready until you actually do it. There's only so much learning and preparation before you just have to pull the trigger and do it. Thanks for sharing and you are definitely not alone!

  • This is great and dead on. I think #3 resonates most with me – I'm burning the midnight oil on the side myself. I think at the end of the day, one is never truly "ready" to start a business. It's kind of like having kids – though I don't have them yet, I know there's only so much you can do to prepare. I think one of the toughest challenges is simply deciding to pull the trigger.

    Thanks for this! It's great to know I'm not alone. 😉

    • Travis Robertson

      Thanks, Laura. I love the "kids" analogy. Though we've not had them yet, that's what we keep hearing is that you're never truly ready until you actually do it. There's only so much learning and preparation before you just have to pull the trigger and do it. Thanks for sharing and you are definitely not alone!

  • Very well put.

    Another one I have heard quite a few times is “I can’t do it alone or don’t have a team”. In reality more and more people are ready to start. If one talks to friends, colleagues, etc., it may be surprising to mind other like minded people.

  • Very well put.

    Another one I have heard quite a few times is “I can’t do it alone or don’t have a team”. In reality more and more people are ready to start. If one talks to friends, colleagues, etc., it may be surprising to mind other like minded people.

  • Nice suggestion – I forgot about that one. Finding like minded people and others who can support or team up with you is a great way to get started.

    I’ve also found that surrounding myself with like-minded people energizes and encourages me to push harder and leave my comfort zone.

  • Stefano Holmes

    I’m looking for someone to assist with my enterprise. What is your background per qualifications in this regard – I couldn’t locate anything concrete on your site, best Stefano

  • Hi Stefano, I’ll shoot you an email and we can talk offline.

  • Chris Bellacose

    Great Post. Just like the old Commercial.. Just Do It.. now.

  • Excellent post, I took the plunge and quit my job recently in order to start my own business and have a better life.

    I’d waited far too long and only by saying to myself “what’s the absolute worst thing that could happen” and realizing that it would be ‘going back to a job’, did I get over the fear and get on with it.

    So far so good and I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Even if it goes wrong I’ll have learned so much, met a whole bunch of inspirational people and had an exciting time.

    I think you’re correct in saying get out of debt as quickly as you can and get about 6 months savings. The savings give you space to make the right decisions without worrying about money. And once you cut out all the unnecessary spending you’ll realize even a little savings can go a long way.

    Good luck and stop thinking about it, do it!

    Michael (lifetothemaximum.com)

  • Great article! Thank you for highlighting the best excuses on everyone’s minds. I will be sharing. Thanks again – O. Ross

  • Leslie

    Just love this post. It is just too easy to put control in hands of the outside world. We have control of our lives and we have to stop lying to ourselves if we want to get where we really want to go!

    • Thank you so much! You’re right about how we often perceive control to be “outside” of ourselves when, in reality, we have control over our own actions. And by exercising that control, we are capable of doing so much more.

      Appreciate you stopping by and sharing!

  • Dr. Shannon Reece

    Great post! I think the bottom line is that people need to get toe to toe with their fear, see if it holds any water, and knock it down to size. So much of what we fear is created in our own imaginations around the unknowns in life. The more you can get informed and fill in the blanks about your future, the more manageable your fear becomes. Take it from me, I was scared of breaking out on my own too. Life pushed me out of my comfort zone (a.k.a. complacency rut) so I had no more excuses. Perhaps now is your time to fly, so what are you waiting for?

    • Thank you, Shannon! We are definitely our own worst enemies when it comes to our fears. I love that you’re out of your comfort zone and are out on your own. It’s definitely uncomfortable to make the leap. It’s mentally, physically and emotionally taxing, but worth it in the end.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Good post Travis! I’d have to add, your family don’t support you. That was the major downer for me when I started my own business.. Best not to take it personally.. they just worry because of the above mentioned things! But they sure get behind you when things start going well. You just have to believe in yourself or no-one else will 😉 Thanks for the post.

  • Thriftiesnewspaper

    wow this is incredible the 7 reason.. i have taken steps to start my business took me 3 mths to build my website myself http://www.thriftiesnewspaper.com I want to do a printed newspaper. I come from a graphic design background so all those elements are easy for me. The only areas that scares the daylights out of me is the sales, which i have no real experience in and not sure how or where to start. It is what is holding me back from making the progress i need the only way to monetize my business is through sales how do i over come that fear and go meet clients?

    Lorens
    http://www.thriftiesnewspaper.com

  • Those excuses happen all the time. Hell, they even creep into my mind from time to time. When I catch myself slipping I always remember why I’m doing what I’m doing. no excuses…as Nike slogan says “just do it!” 

    Don’t look back and don’t have any regrets.

  • Anonymous
  • These are awesome! I think the “I’ll start it when…” is a tough one for me. Perfectionism is a battle I fight daily to ship new things. In case you didn’t pick up on that clue, Seth Godin’s works are an inspiration that help me overcome this problem! 

    • Thanks, Deacon! Seth Godin is a huge inspiration to me as well. Do you mind sharing what steps are you taking to overcome perfectionism? I always like to learn from the experiences of others. 🙂

  • Dan

    Great post, Travis. Lie #3 was holding me back big time, but I saved up a few months money and went for it. I’m still working on building up enough income to support myself, but I don’t regret taking the leap of faith.

    • That’s awesome, Dan! It takes courage to do that and it’s great to meet others who are doing what it takes to pursue their passion. It’s a great feeling to know that the money gives you time to build the business without having to stress about it too much.

  • Nate

    Travis,

    GREAT post. I swear this type of post has been on my mind for the past month as I am looking at different ways to revolve an online business around distance running. There are so many ‘runner’ blogs out there but I have to let my background, education and athletic experience work for me. Thanks for the post.

    Nate