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OWNER'S MANUAL

15 Worst Excuses Not to Be an Entrepreneur

Think you don't have enough time? Nice try. Here are the most common reasons people don't take the plunge--and why they don't hold up.

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It's likely that one of your excuses is that you don't have enough time--so let's get right to it:

1. I'm too scared.

Join the club. Every entrepreneur is scared.

So you have a choice: Let your fears hold you back... or use those same fears as fuel to do whatever it takes to succeed.

Complacency is the enemy of achievement and fortunately fear drives complacency away.

2. I don't have the right connections.

Between company websites and LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms you can reach almost anyone besides the Pope and maybe Bono. In fact some people are surprisingly accessible (maybe that's one of the secrets of their success?).

Of course they may not respond. If they don't that's probably your fault.

Start small. Start feasible. Build a foundation. A great network is like a pyramid with a wide base, not a thin vertical line that goes straight to the top.

And never forget that the more influential the person the more they're besieged with requests. Have a good reason to connect, give before you expect to receive, and you might be surprised by who responds.

3. I'm too late.

Yeah, Jobs beat you to the graphical interface and mouse, but Xerox beat him. Zuckerberg wasn't first in social media. The list goes on. Innovation is never one-and-done; some of the most successful companies are based on refining earlier ideas and innovations.

You're only too late if you're not willing to be better, faster, stronger, or cheaper than whoever got there first.

4. I can't get anyone to listen.

People will listen to anything that is entertaining, interesting, heartfelt, amusing, shocking, informative, titillating, stupid, satirical, controversial, sad, silly, sexy...

If you can't get anyone to listen, the problem isn't them. The problem is you.

What you want to say is irrelevant; change your message so it means something to the people you want to reach.

Then they'll listen.

5. I don't have the money.

As Growthink founder Dave Lavinsky says, being an entrepreneur is the art and science of accomplishing more with less--less money, less people, less time, etc.

Face it: You will never, ever have "enough" cash or capital or funding. Never. If you don't have enough capital to launch your business the way you plan then change your plan.

You can't always control what you have, but you can control what you choose to do with what you have.

6. I don't have the time.

Everyone has the same amount of time. The only difference is what you're willing to do with your time.

If you were trapped underground and only had 24 hours worth of oxygen you wouldn't check your Twitter feed or chat with friends or spend a little "me time" in front of the TV. You'd dig your butt off the entire time.

Apply the same level of importance and urgency to what you want to accomplish and your schedule will instantly clear. Finding the time is always a matter of how badly you want it.

7. I don't have the skills.

No problem. Go get them. Go to school. Read a book. Read 10 books. Talk to friends. Get a part-time job at a small business. Get a part-time job in a completely different industry.

Find someone who has done what you want to do and volunteer to work for free in return for the opportunity to learn.

Does that seem too hard? Like too big of a price to pay? Or simply not fair? Then accept you will never have the skills and stop complaining.

Skills and knowledge are earned, not given.

8. I can't think of a great idea.

Dreaming up something new is really, really hard.

Reacting to something that already exists is really, really easy.

Walk around and start complaining (to yourself). You'll see tons of problems that require solutions. Those solutions are ideas.

Or walk around your business and start complaining. There are tons of problems you can address.

"New" is hard to imagine. "Better" is much easier.

Again, most companies are built on "better," not on "new."

9. I can't take that risk.

Any risk you take today is a risk you can recover from. In time you can overcome almost any setback, stumble, or failure, and emerge stronger and smarter and better equipped to succeed the next time.

If you never try all you will be is regretful: When you're old and grey and "done" you'll have to look back on your life and think, "I wonder what might have happened if I had only..."

That's one risk risk you should never take.

10. I'm better at planning than execution.

No, you're not. You're just too lazy to do the grunt work. Or you think you've already paid your dues. Or you think you're above it.

Or--pick your excuse.

Every successful entrepreneur I know can and does, when necessary, roll up his or her sleeves and outwork everyone else nearby. (That's one of the reasons they're so successful.)

You don't need some undefined innate quality to be good at execution; all you need is discipline.

11. I can't stop until it's perfect.

Sure you can. You just don't want to.

Maybe you're insecure. Maybe you're afraid. Maybe you fear rejection or criticism.

Do this instead. Do your best. Then step back. If a little more work will result in a markedly better outcome, go for it.

If a little more work will not make a difference anyone but you will notice, let it go. Then you make improvements based on the feedback you get from the only people whose opinions really matter: your customers.

12. I'm not comfortable doing it that way.

I was raised to be humble and self-effacing, so I hate to say I'm good at anything. But sometimes I have no choice; taking advantage of certain opportunities requires confidently describing my skills, experience, and accomplishments.

If you're not comfortable doing something because it violates your principles or ethics, by all means don't.

But if you're not comfortable doing something simply because it will take you out of your comfort zone, you're just rationalizing.

And you'll never be more than you already are.

13. I can't find anyone who gets it.

Oh, they get it: They get that it sucks.

Truly great ideas can be described in a few words. Truly great products can be described in a few words.

When no one seems to get it, the only person not getting it is you. Let go of your pride and agenda and "unique point of view" and figure out where you've gone wrong.

14. It's too hard.

Long journeys are hard.

Individual steps are easy.

Say you sit on your couch all day and you decide to run a marathon. You're right: That's too hard. But you can go out today and run a lap or two. Or you can walk a few miles. You can take one small step towards a difficult goal.

And then another. And then another.

Or say you want to lose 50 pounds. That's too hard. But you can eat one meal differently. Or you can take a walk at lunch. Or say you want to open a business. You can look at possible locations. Or work on your business plan. Or talk to a potential supplier. Or get advice from a mentor.

You can't accomplish any difficult goal overnight, but you can accomplish one step, however small, towards that goal.

Think about the end of a journey and all that will be required along the way and you'll never start.

Instead, just do one thing that will help get you there. Then build on it.

That you can do.

15. I'll be too embarrassed if I fail.

Failing in public can be embarrassing, especially since some people love to talk about the misfortunes of others.

Those are the same people who would never dare try something themselves.

Don't worry about them.

A whole other group of people will respect you for taking a shot. They'll recognize a kindred spirit.  They'll empathize. They'll encourage. They'll pick you up. They'll know what it's like to try and fail and try again.

Why? They're people living their lives on their terms.

Like you.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jun 14, 2012

JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
@jeff_haden




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