The Highest Barrier to Entry Is Fear

Written By: Amy Biddle in Motivation | June 30, 2015


“I can’t start a business, I’m too busy right now.”

“I can’t afford to start a business.”

“What on earth would I do for a business?”

It’s a leap, starting a business. I remember making these statements nearly 20 years ago, and I’ve heard so many others say the same things since then. Having previously crashed and burned in a business I started out of college (pre-internet), I felt gun-shy.

If someone suggested I go into business for myself, I’d throw up those excuses as my impenetrable defense.

I could back up my reasoning, too, with some fine logic. I was too busy because I was working overtime to make ends meet. With no time and no money how could I do anything else?

Then, my best defense of all, “What would I do?” clinched the deal. No one could answer this question for me. I didn’t know what to do, so there was no way to start.

Looking back, perhaps if I’d taken a moment for a little introspection I’d have seen that there was more to those well practiced answers I was tossing out.

I had already failed once before.

I was afraid.

Being afraid, I couldn’t start a business. I was too busy working! I had high bills, work demanded overtime, and I was using every minute of every day to keep everything running; this was my life.

Fast forward a bunch of years. Thanks to the internet, I’ve now been working online for the past 12 years, and solely online for the past seven years. Looking back, I had to make a few adjustments to make this work. But the adjustments weren’t what you might think.

I didn’t significantly reduce my bills (at first). I didn’t switch to a part-time job to have more time to build a business. I didn’t even have a particularly clear plan in mind at first.

Ultimately, the biggest adjustment I had to make was to my thinking.

You see, in my experience, if I can see a way to do something, I can do it. That’s true of nearly anyone. Nearly anybody can see a way, get a new view, and move in a new direction. Sometimes this mental shift can happen very quickly.

Where I thought my barrier to entry into working for myself was going to be my expenses, or the time I thought I didn’t have, my actual barrier to entry was my own fear.

The fear wasn’t logical. I had started a business before. I had taken risks. They were unnecessary risks, looking back, but they showed me I wasn’t afraid to jump at one point in my life.

My excuses hadn’t been logical, either. Since my excuses for not starting a business and subsequently working from home permanently were actually pretty common, let’s address these here.

“I can’t start a business, I’m too busy right now.”

Certainly I was busy. Most people are busy.

There is a principle, called Parkinson’s Law. It states, “Work expands to fill the time allotted.”

I know we’ve covered time management issues in these pages before, but let me tell you, I get up in the morning a couple of hours before most people I know, and I don’t watch television. Most days I get tons of stuff done provided I follow my daily productivity routines.

I’m still busy. I’m probably busier now than I’ve ever been. But I work hard from home when I get to set my own goals. To me that’s easier than having a job someplace else.

I think about Parkinson’s Law often. Sitting down to write an article, for example, I can spend all day or I can spend a few hours. The work has to get done, and there’s more to do after the article is written. I’d rather not dilly dally.

Before I started my own business I was busy all of the time — working overtime, doing other people’s work… and I had to be in their office to get it done.

The kicker is that we all have the same 24 hours in every day that everyone else has. Richard Branson owns the Virgin Group which comprises 400 businesses. He has 24 hours in his day just like we all do. But somehow we aren’t all multi-billionaire business owners. Why is that?

I’m pointing out this difference to say this: there are smarter ways to use time, and not-as-smart ways to use time. We don’t all need to be the next Richard Branson. But if you’re like me and use the excuse that you don’t have time to start or to run a business, think again.

Time spent watching television could be time spent on a business. Where can you make adjustments to your day to gain just an hour, to start?

Making the leap may be as simple as a mental shift.

“I can’t afford to start a business.”

This excuse has never been entirely valid. I started a woodworking business with less than a few hundred dollars right out of college, without a computer or use of the internet. Today nearly anyone can start a business online for next to nothing, or for very little cash.

We take it for granted now that a new business will have at least some exposure online, if not reside completely online.

Certainly, there are businesses that cost enormous amounts of money to start. Check out the cost of buying a franchise in the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 2015 list.

You can’t even qualify to buy into most of the franchises on that list without a net worth in the high six-figures. Even then, would you want to? I have a friend who just bought a franchise fast food restaurant. He works the drive through 10 or more hours a day, six days a week. He’s super smart, and I know he has a plan so he won’t always have to spend his days asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

How about the cost to start a business that isn’t a franchise? If you need inventory, a shop, employees, advertising, and cash to cover carrying costs, expect to spend at least $100,000, and hope you make it back in the first few years.

Forbes estimates that 80-90% of all startups fail within the first few years. So there’s really no guarantee that a business will pay back on the initial investment.

The outlay required for a free blog (the free ones aren’t recommended, but they’re better than not starting) or the cash outlay for your own website is only a couple of hundred dollars, and comes with the potential to reach hundreds or thousands of targeted customers per day relatively quickly. There is miniscule risk, and the potential for large rewards (financial and lifestyle rewards).

“What on earth would I do for a business?”

While this is a valid question, it’s not an excuse to keep you from starting. In 1999 I discovered Solo Build It! (SBI!), which included detailed instructions for doing market research online for choosing a business niche.

At that point in time I wasn’t clear on my goals and didn’t have the information in place to make a decision on what business to start. But what I did have was a handful of ideas for projects.

Between 1999 and 2004 I did many test runs for online businesses just doing simple online projects, and then jumped in, in earnest, in 2004 (going full-time in 2008).

My mental shift in this case was going from the habit of saying, “I don’t know what to do,” to, “Here are the projects I’ve done, here is what I’ve liked doing, and here is what I want to do more of.”

Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes…


Action Cures Fear

Once I identified that my defensive stance was keeping me in a job I didn’t want to be in, I finally admitted that I was afraid to do what I truly wanted to do.

That fear cost me years that I could have been building my business.

It’s never too late to start, though. For example, at SiteSell we have scores of pre-retirees and retirees who use SBI! to start and run businesses every day. Many, many SBI! owners start part-time and build until they can go full-time. These are everyday solopreneurs who are making a few hundred or a few thousand dollars a month (many of them make more). I’m really proud of these folks, many of whom overcame a lifetime of their own beliefs and fears to jump in and create something of their own.

In fact, many Americans put off retirement in favor of developing a mid-life career change. Here’s just one of many of our retiree examples.

The bottom line for everyone is this: taking action cures fear. Make one small change. The first step is the toughest for many. I got started working online by just jumping in and doing that first project (which in my case was selling on eBay before I moved to owning my own site). As I got comfortable I tried new things, learned my strengths (and weaknesses), and developed work that I love.

And I’ve seen thousands of others do it too…

Do you see yourself in this article? I’d like to invite you to join us at SiteSell and use SBI! to take action and start your business. We’ve lowered the price for your first year to $199 USD. There’s so much support and community included with SBI!, we can help you overcome old beliefs and help you move into your new life.


Amy Biddle
Amy Biddle is Director of the Advisor Team for SiteSell. Amy lives in and works in a small RV, and explores marketing frontiers as well as the frontiers in the lower 48 states of the US.

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