A colleague reached out a couple of weeks ago to "pick my brain" about starting her own business. I was delighted--it's one of my favorite topics because I've found the process of starting my business so personally and professionally rewarding.
As chardonnays arrived at our porch perch, she launched into a fiery, f-letter-word-filled story about her current bosses, their lack of business acumen, their lapses in judgment, poor treatment of staff and partners, etc. Within minutes, I was convinced. These guys are failures, but how did their faults relate to her business to be? Turns out that the two were directly connected. She was angry about how she and others were treated AND in a unique position with a key client to snag that work and use it as a seed to grow.
Interesting. And, probably not all that uncommon of a story, but it got me thinking about the terrible reasons to start a business--and why.
- You're mad at your boss (or bosses). They've made mistakes that made you angry--really angry. And now feeling spiteful, you want to get back at them.
- You think your client is an idiot... And so you want different clients. Your current relationship with those on the receiving end of your products and services is the best indicator of what it will be in the future--even if you're selling something else to someone else. The bottom line: you take yourself with you and that includes your attitude about people who buy from you.
- Me, too. Someone you know and respect started their own business and that makes you want to do the same.
- I want to sell it and get rich. You're focused on last step #10 and have glossed over everything difficult in the middle that it’ll take to get you there. Prospective clients see through to your intentions and won’t stick around long enough to buy– or to keep buying.
- It's expected. Your family admires and values entrepreneurship and encourages younger generations to start businesses or holds up others who have as role models. Whether you're starting fresh or assuming responsibilities for a family business so that your parents can retire, entering entrepreneurship out of guilt or obligation won't ultimately result in a thriving business or a rewarding career.
- It's cool. As a business owner myself, it is cool, but there are many cool jobs out there, too, working for someone else. Pursuit of cach by starting a business isn't enough to make it successful. While there is no shame in trying and failing--starting something purely because you think it'll make you look and feel special won't get you there.
- You have a partner. Partnerships are great and really, really difficult as are all committed, high-stakes relationships. Simply having someone by your side may not end up being as helpful as you think it’ll be– especially if they fall into any of these 10 troublesome categories.
By themselves, each of these are terrible reasons to start a business. Even combined, they're simply not enough to carry you through the difficult and creative challenges you'll face as an entrepreneur.
Instead, the single best reason to start a business is that you see no other way. You've unearthed an idea, you have a client in mind, a reason that they'll want to buy, and the persistent (but positive) nagging feeling that you must do something. You've looked at other ways to bring this idea to the people who need it, and you've come to the conclusion that you're in the best position to deliver. That's the single best reason. And it's the reason behind so many successful business starts.
For a little more encouragement, here are some words of wisdom on how you know you’re ready from Mark Cuban.