Here they are, in no particular order:
EXCUSE NO. 1: PARANOIA
Sounds like: “Huge risk! The LIVES of my kids are at stake!”
Commentary: First, it’s never ever as bad as you imagine it would be. Too often we fall victim to our wild imagination. Moreover, you can always mitigate risk, through research and early customer feedback. You can do this without quitting your day job. Small, calculated leaps. Then, you will inevitably come across a crossroad – the big leap. By then, if you did your homework, you should have a clearer idea of your cashflow and the projected (or even the actual) monetary risk. By then, you should have calculated how much you can really, really live by (you’d be surprised with this amount and what happens if you eliminate your “small” luxury expenses) By then, you should have saved, say, around 6 months of expenses in preparation. Also, by then, you should have contingencies. If let’s say the cash flow isn’t as healthy as you’d thought in month 2, perhaps you should be planning to take up part-time work to supplement your startup income. If it really doesn’t fly, you have a safety parachute for use at anytime – you could always go back to the corporate grind: most likely with slightly higher pay than your previous point. Moreover, if you go back, you will now be armed with a business experience no training course could ever duplicate.
The solution is merely to plan.
Among all the excuses, “too risky” is the lamest and is usually given as the cover for the other excuses. It’s the lamest because there is NO risk in taking the smaller steps. HOWEVER, people talk themselves into thinking it’s such a big risk that they don’t even bother to initiate even the smallest of steps.
Excuse no. 2: SELF-DOUBT
Sounds like: “ME?! Oh no, I am not an entrepreneur! I’m not built that way! I don’t have what it takes.”
Commentary: When we started STORM, I had no MBA, no cum laude standing, no cash endowment (but a lot of financial problems), no entrepreneur mentors, no entrepreneurial background. I even came from a job function (HR), which was described by two separate people to me as, “the function where the least amount of CEO’s come from.” (Gee, thanks.) Entrepreneurs and startup founders come in all shapes and sizes, personality types, family backgrounds, education backgrounds, and experiences. There is no template.
They do have one thing in common: all of them overcame their insecurities and took leaps. You can, too.
Excuse no. 3: READINESS
Sounds like: “Not yet. I need to go through some things first before I take any leaps. Getting there though.”
Commentary: Much like getting married, there is never a “perfect time” to take the leap. You are never completely ready. There will always be something you will tell yourself “has to be right first.” You have to overcome this feeling.
If you want to develop a true-blue start-up, the situation becomes ironic. A trailblazer hacks a path into the unknown. Readiness implies anticipation of the known.
You can never be truly “ready” for startup life. Startup life itself is the only thing that can prepare you for startup life. The sooner you leap, the sooner you learn, the sooner you garner relevant startup experience. The compromise? Join an existing startup.
Excuse no. 4: SOCIAL APPROVAL
Sounds like: “I am thinking of leaving my VP-Marketing post in ABCD Telecoms to put up a startup in… the flowers business?! Egad! What will other people think?! Heck, what am I thinking? Away, thoughts!”
Commentary: This I think is a subtly common excuse. We wear our corporate titles like badges sometimes, don’t we? It’s how we are often introduced, or even how we introduce ourselves.
“VP” “REGIONAL” “CXO” We love the ring of it, don’t we? This is to be expected, after all, work IS important to us, as well as the opinions of our peers.
So what would happen if we are stripped of our relation to the biggie firm, stripped of our corporate title?
Is our identity and self-worth really that much tied to these titles and company names? More importantly, will you let what people think ultimately bar you from pursuing your heart’s desire? (which actually allows you to pursue a more real self)
I hope not.
My own leap into fulltime entrepreneur wasn’t met with universal acceptance. After all, the safer bet was staying in my salaried job. But at that juncture, I had reached a point where I just didn’t care anymore. As long as my wife supported me, I was good. And she did.
I actually encountered ALL these excuses in my head when I was deliberating on my leap, and all throughout my startup life – even up to now. I encounter them in my interviews as well – consistently.
Realize one thing: most of it is ILLUSION. It’s really all in your head.
Break through. Break free.
(Addendum: readers, if you have more common “excuses” to add, then please share! Thanks!)
4 thoughts on “The 4 most common excuses for not taking the startup leap”
And one more thing: The “I don’t have the time” Syndrome.
Great article! The “Egad!” made me laugh – I guess, you’ve been reading too much Archie comics way back! Haha!
Glen, Good insight on the “I don’t have time” – I also find this common. This one is difficult. A number of people in highly competitive industries do ungodly hours daily – they truly do not have time. If the startup is truly a priority, they might need to look for another day job that’s less hectic. Good add.
Sa Archie comics ba yung egad? Hahahaha, I’m not really sure where I got the inspiration for that 🙂
how about :”am too old for this”?
Good one, Joel. With the opposite spectrum “I’m too young for this” also in play.
Both illusions – there’s no age or experience template, either.
I will say the leap looks and sounds different depending a bit on age though. For a younger person, perception is often the problem – the system has ingrained certain world-views which are difficult to change. A lot of the older ones, meanwhile, after having undergone several existential crises already, KNOW they want to take a leap. They’ve seen peers do it. But the risk seems more daunting because there is usually more to give up.