I don’t have any statistics on this, so I am basing an assumption on articles I’ve read and conversations I’ve enjoyed over the years. I am assuming there are many more people who dream of being an entrepreneur and never achieved that goal, than who had the dream and achieved business ownership. I was the dreamer for a long time before I acted on my desire to own my own company.
In fact, it was a 30+ year dream. I blamed not pursuing entrepreneurship on the typical “life getting in the way” excuse. You know the one – marriage, children, kids’ college, etc. The time just wasn’t right. There was always a “good” reason to shove that dream in the back of my mind under the category “some day.” But, in reality, I didn’t have the nerve. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t have confidence that I would make the right decisions.
I didn’t think I could be successful.
I thought I would fail as an entrepreneur
Why? Because I failed at so many things during my childhood – and adulthood – that made me think I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, energetic enough – you name it. What made me think this? When I was a Brownie and Girl Scout, and it was time to sell the cookies, my mom told me to only knock on the doors of people I knew. So, I grew up thinking you only sold things to people you know. That translated to me believing I could not be successful owning my own business, because I certainly would need more customers than my friends and relatives.
Another defining time in my life was when I tried out for the junior high choir. Oh! How I love to sing! When the choir director told me I was cut after the tryouts, I remember asking “Why?” HIs answer was, “You can’t sing!” I was devastated. I told myself if I couldn’t do what I really, really enjoyed, which turning into “What good am I?” I then got a C in music because I refused to sing with the rest of the class.
All children hear so many more minor messages – don’t run, don’t climb, don’t – don’t – don’t because you will get hurt, you’ll fall, you’ll fail. Well, who wants to get hurt? And what adult wants to risk getting hurt by trying to run a business? What wants to fail? No one, of course. So the dream stays a dream, and you live a life that isn’t fulfilling.
Now, I don’t blame anyone but myself for delaying my dream. Not my parents or my teachers. I know now that they did their best, with what they knew, handed down to them, from their parents and mentors, and so on down the line. I do blame myself, though. After all those years, I accepted my self-talk and didn’t question if it was real or imagined. I didn’t take control of my thoughts and my beliefs. After all, I’m adult, and I can believe what I want to believe.
Children know they will succeed
Look at a child who wants to open (the always great example of) a lemonade stand. Kids don’t even consider the fact that they might not sell some lemonade. When the first car drives by and doesn’t stop, do they gather up everything and quit? No! When the first pedestrian walks by and says, “No thank you,” do they cry and feel like they are failures? Absolutely not! They know in their whole being someone will become a customer. And they are usually right. If not, I can guess that they are in the front yard the next day, open once again in anticipation, knowing deep down inside that they will succeed.
The difference from children and many adults with a dream of starting a business is the belief in themselves. Toddlers don’t know they can’t do what they want to do. They learned to walk, even after falling down over and over. Not because someone kept telling them could, but because they had the benefit of not being told over and over that they could not. In fact, people were all there, encouraging them to take that first step. No matter how many times they fall down, they get back up again, knowing this time they will walk.
The same with all the other accomplishments in one’s life. Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up. You’ll hear many wonderful dreams that years later haven’t come true. Somewhere along the line they began to believe others’ opinions rather than holding on to what they know. They settled. Maybe because their music teacher told them they couldn’t sing. Or they were told “don’t bother people you don’t know” when selling something.
Who would have thought I’d be mentoring other business owners as they start their own home inventory business? For a long, long time, I never thought I could be an entrepreneur. And now I not only own one business, but three! Who woulda thought? Unfortunately for many, many years, I thought I was not capable.
For all those who have the dream of starting a business, I recommend that you be a kid again! Find that childhood freshness that tells you that you can do anything you want to do. Find that inner child who just knows that you can be successful. There is too much life to live to not follow your dreams down a road that takes you to success.
Now … GO!