This following is a guest post from Travis Steffen. We ran across Travis recently and liked his approach to entrepreneurship. Having started six businesses classifies him as a grizzled veteran and this story takes an interesting approach to deciding whether taking the plunge is right for you. Hope you enjoy.
-The Redbird Team
No matter what industry you’re trying to get into, most of the videos, books, courses and resources out there will tell you reasons why you should just take the leap and get started. Many of them showcase the lifestyle of a successful entrepreneur. Others spout revenue statistics of what you might make by learning from them. Others still are written by incredibly successful entrepreneurs that share helpful philosophy.
That said, regardless of the reasons why you should start a business (and there are many), what most of these don’t talk about is why you should NOT start a business. Many people aren’t ready to start their own company because they’re just not at the point in their life where it’s truly a priority. Others are only interested in the money, and aren’t at all interested in the product or service they’re creating.
One of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever gotten is to only start a company you’re incredibly passionate about. One of the more successful entrepreneurs I know, Emerson Spartz, shared his insights on finding your passion in a recent interview I did with him. Check it out:
Building on what Emerson says here, building a successful company can be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do, so you need to make sure you’re starting something you love. That way you can tap into your passion in the early days and the hard times when most people break under the pressure
Here are a few other cases where you should not start a business:
1. You’re Finding Excuses Not To Start
Many people approach me spouting how many good ideas they have. They tell me about their idea, how it’s a “multi-billion dollar industry”, and how they truly believe they can pull it off…if it weren’t for [INSERT EXCUSE HERE].
For some, it’s money. They claim they have none, and if they just had a few bucks of somebody else’s money, they’d be all-in. Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a believer in this excuse because I lived it. I was dirt poor when I started my first company. I was well into the red when I started my second company. In both of those instances, and in every venture after, I found ways to make it work because I actually believed in what I was doing enough to find a way.
For others, it’s time. They have this obligation, or that job, or whatever else they’re up to – but the truth is that if their company was actually a priority in their life, they’d make time for it. Everybody is busy. If you can’t reorganize your existing schedule to find a few extra hours a day to work on something that could potentially make for a successful business a few years down the road, you’re either not intellectually capable of solving the complex problems that building a business will throw at you, or you simply don’t want it bad enough.
2. You’re Not Obsessed With Making It Happen
Most entrepreneurial videos, books, courses and resources out there include a heavy dose of motivation. While it’s nice to start your day off with a dose of internal energy, if you don’t have strong intrinsic motivation constantly driving you to build your business, you may see a little success, but you won’t get anywhere near as successful as your competition who absolutely love working on building the best company in the industry.
Back when I was teaching MMA in college, other coaches would mention that their guys weren’t coming to practice regularly. They’d ask what I did to motivate my fighters to show up, and I’d always give the same answer. “I tell them to go get a job.” The truly successful fighters were the ones who you had to pull OUT of the gym. They loved it so much, they wouldn’t want to leave. As an entrepreneur, this same mentality holds true. If you don’t truly want to be there, and you’re not absolutely obsessed with making it work on a grand scale, you’ll never be nearly as successful as somebody who brings that mentality into their workplace – no matter if it’s a beautiful office or their parents’ garage.
3. You’re Not Willing To Risk Going Broke
There will be other entrepreneurs out there who disagree with me, and that’s okay. However, I’ve never been a believer in investing in somebody’s company if they haven’t already thrown every penny they have in the world into it themselves. At that point, I believe that THEY believe in their capacity to make it work. After all, it’s incredibly easy to gamble with somebody else’s cash because it was handed to you. It’s another story to put your own hard-earned cash in because you know exactly how hard you had to work to get it.
What’s more, many aspiring entrepreneurs approach me and ask “what if I go broke?” I always tell them to do it. Go broke. Hit bottom, and climb your way out. It’s going to suck, but once you do, you’ll realize that you can survive your absolute worst case scenario. Suddenly starting a company and self-financing until you have enough traction to recruit investors it is a lot less terrifying, and once you get to that point, you may find that you don’t even need anyone else’s money to scale because you’ve learned how to solve problems without a bottomless bank account.
Travis Steffen is a viral growth expert who has started, scaled and sold 6 tech companies, and is currently the co-founder of both upshare.co and mentormojo.com. You can find him on twitter – @TravisSteffen