I have been asked more times than I can count what the biggest challenge is in starting my own business. I suspect most people think I will share some earth shattering revelation or magical nugget of knowledge.
For me, I can honestly say the biggest challenge was overcoming fear – fear of leaving a safe, secure, well-paying job of 20 years with benefits. Despite my obvious employment, I viewed myself as an entrepreneur because I was always looking for and willing to consider new business opportunities. After all, I was working 60 plus hours per week at UPS, and that was on a “short” week!
After working at the UPS for so long, once I made the decision to leave and start The Wheelchair Taxi I still had to struggle with a degree of fear – fear of leaving a safe and secure job, fear of the unknown associated with launching a new business, fear of various financial concerns, and more.
Despite what was once a great many fears, not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for opening the doors and leading me into the adventures of entrepreneurship. Although demands and expectations grew exponentially in the first couple years, the return on my investment in hard work was exponential. I knew I was financially free when I was making as much in one week with my medical transportation business than I was in a one month working for UPS. But even more, I found great personal satisfaction. I realized how my leadership, sales, and interpersonal skills were growing and sharpening by owning my own business.
Making a Hard Decision Easier
If you have not yet started your own business, maybe you are teetering on the fence of indecision, I encourage you to accept your potential fears. In fact, you should have serious fears and concerns in starting your own business – especially if you are like I was, leaving a safe, secure job with benefits. But in accepting your fears, I believe fear will not become a factor in your decision making process. It’s there, accept it, we use it as motivation to work even harder to ensure success, and we move on!
In helping to better control and manage your fear, I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is the business you’re starting in a stable industry?
I know a lot of people believe they must come up with a great idea or new invention to be successful and make a lot of money. But for me, I personally believe that quality, slow, steady, and consistent effort in a stable environment is the best formula for increasing your chances for success.
My success has obviously come from the transportation and medical industries. However, if they are of no interest to you, fear not, there are an untold number of additional industries and business opportunities to consider. Opportunities are all around us.
2. Does your business idea solve a problem and is someone willing to pay you for the solution?
If you consistently solve someone’s problem or the problems of a group of people the need for your product or service will always be in demand. When you are in demand you have financial security and demand. Needless to say, security helps eliminate fear.
3. Are you trying to reinvent the wheel or are you leveraging existing information and opportunities?
One of the many perspectives that is actually a business level strategy, I have learned from Joel in starting my NEMT business is that competition can actually help you. Existing competition helps introduce and educate your market to the essential needs of your product or services. Therefore, you don’t need to spend critical marketing dollars trying to educate and convince potential clients on how your product works or the need for your services. All you need to do is be at your best and develop creative solutions for separating yourself from your competitors – demonstrate your level of quality.
4. Can you start on a small scale to limit your exposure to financial risk?
Many people think starting a business takes large sums of money. In speaking from firsthand experience, this is definitely not true! I started with a single vehicle and consistently grew my business as demand and revenue increased. As my business grew so did my confidence. Despite any reservations or fear that I had when starting they all disappeared as my level of success continued to grow.
Speaking from firsthand experience is always easy – all you have to do is be honest and speak from the heart. If you are like I was, eager to learn and earn more but concerned about leaving your place of security, I encourage you to study, learn, prepare, all business level strategy and then leap. And once you jump, don’t look back. You can’t enjoy your new adventure looking in the rear view mirror!