Why are people terrified of starting their own business?

I just came across this video from Seth Godin and it really resonated with me and after you watch the video, I want to share why it was such an ‘ah-ha moment’ for me…

So now let me explain why this video really resonated with me…

Last Thursday, I arrived home in Vancouver after a six-week tour in Australia and Asia where I spoke to over 2000+ people who were interested in starting their own business on the Internet, but of those 2000 people only a small percentage will ever take action and start pursuing their dreams.

Why is that?

Most of the people I spoke with on my last trip have comfortable lives. They have money in the bank, they have a good job, they have security… but they are looking for something more. So they come to my workshop looking for answers.

When I finish a workshop I always have people coming up to me saying that they want to start their own business but they’re afraid or they’re uncertain, and my question is always…

“What are you afraid of?”

This question is typically followed by a blank stare.

So then I follow-up with “If you were to attempt to start a business on the Internet, what is the absolute worst outcome? Are you going to end up homeless? Are you putting your family at risk? Are you risking your health and safety?”

When I pose this question I can see the wheels turning.

When I push a little further, dig a little deeper, the real answer eventually surfaces and nine times out of ten it’s this…

“What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail?”

So let me pose a question for you to ponder for a moment: What is failure?

Now remember I am talking in terms of starting an online business in your spare time. I am not asking you to quit your job and gamble your life savings on a venture you have little to no control over.

In the world of online businesses you can set up websites fast and cheap. You can test your ideas before investing any real significant sum of money.

So again I ask, what is failure?

If you start working on your online business in your spare time while still maintaining your current sources of income, and leverage so many of the free and cheap tools that are available to get started, what do you really stand to lose?

Yes, you are investing time and a small sum of money; as little as a few hundred dollars to get a site up and start testing your ideas.

But what if your first idea doesn’t work? What if it is the dreaded ‘failure’?

Well, let’s break it down…

  1. You are out a few hundred bucks.
  2. You are out the time you invested to test your idea.

But are you really out the time you invested? I would argue that you are not actually out that time…

The fact is, no entrepreneur hits home runs every time. Any honest entrepreneur will tell you they’ve launched a few duds (okay, maybe more than a few) along the way, but if I try something new and it doesn’t work did I ‘fail’? Well I guess that really depends on how your brain is wired…

See, when I try something new and it doesn’t work I just learned something valuable… I learned what NOT to do and probably picked up some valuable knowledge that I can apply to my next idea.

So if you are just starting out, the first idea you have may not be a home run but you are going to learn a freakin’ ton along the way, skills and knowledge that you can now apply to your next endeavor.

And again, when talking about Internet businesses you do not need to gamble the farm to get started!

Sure you need to invest a VERY small sum of money when compared to traditional businesses and you need to invest your time, but when you’re investing your time you are acquiring skills and knowledge that you can put to use in all of your future endeavors.

So again, if you have always wanted to be your own boss but have been paralyzed by this ‘false fear’, let me ask you again: What’s the worst that will happen?

Which brings me back to this short video I came across where Seth Godin actually talks about the science behind this fear of failure and how modern society has programmed this false fear that is suffocating the entrepreneurial spirit of our population.

So if you have been sitting on the sidelines, afraid to take that first entrepreneurial step, ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?”

And if you enjoyed the first video, here’s another video from Seth talking about “risk” that I also feel supports my message here (or I am supporting his message… depends on who you ask ????

Would love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment below…

To your success…

Derek Gehl

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  1. Thanks for that Derek. A great reminder to reevaluate my definition of what ‘failure’ and ‘risk’ really is. Seth was right in the second video when he said that rarely is risk life-threatening these days. Taking the appropriate risk for ones venture and seeing every supposed failure as a lesson learned instead can drastically change the mind-set of a new entrepreneur. I also appreciated the clarification of the difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur. It helped to verify again, why I am choosing to go down the path of entrepreneur. Also your emphasis on not actually losing time, but instead, gaining knowledge and skills previously not obtained was a motivating statement to help me to realise that any time used in the endeavour of starting my business online will not be wasted as long as I choose to see all that time as upskilling and honing my knowledge and abilities. SO again, thank you.

  2. I think for me the biggest risk is NOT doing something. How will you feel if you’ve just kept doing the same thing for the next x months/years without taking a risk? Life is an adventure, why not explore as much as you can?

  3. Thanks Derek, love these videos 🙂 I try and always think about what I would regret more, trying something and failing or not even trying at all. Most of the time Im pretty sure I would regret not trying more but this post was a good reminder to just give things a go 🙂

    1. Agreed! And at the end of the day, if an idea doesn’t work out as planned is it really a failure if you picked up skills and knowledge along the way to apply to your next idea?

      And as I always tell people, if you build a website that is getting traffic in any niche, chances are you can monetize it somehow.

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