Is it finally the year to start a business?
I think the answer is yes, and I’m going to give you some unconventional advice.
First, it will be hard — much harder than you think.
Second, you don’t need inspiration. Do you need to be inspired to brush your teeth every day?
Third, waiting until we have the “right information” is just the excuse we all tell ourselves. If all you needed was information, wouldn’t you have found it by now?
Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs. I’ve noticed it’s the same handful of obstacles preventing them from starting.
Let me show you three of the most common, and how you can overcome them.
1. “I don’t have time”
Yes, we “know” we technically have the same number of hours as Barack Obama, Jay-Z, and Richard Branson. This doesn’t help when life is pulling us in a dozen directions.
Bajaj is a best-selling novelist who loves to write. However, his books didn’t earn enough to pay the bills, so he also worked a full-time corporate job. Between the 9-5, family, and kids, he barely had time for writing, never mind starting a business.
“I couldn’t write all weekend anymore,” he admits. “And with our family’s expenses increasing, I couldn’t quit my corporate day job either. I had a deep, sinking feeling that my writing was about to give.”
However, Bajaj had a skill others wanted: He knew how to land a book deal with a major publisher. He’d done it himself — twice. With no time in his hectic schedule, he didn’t have the luxury to build a website or start an email list. Instead, Bajaj just started emailing people he thought might be interested in a course on landing a book deal.
Three days later, Bajaj earned $3,100.
Idea validated, he began investing more time. He created a website, wrote blog posts, and built an email list. In four months, he went from zero to 1,800 subscribers.
You don’t need to be a 22-year-old college graduate to start your business this year. To start, it only takes a few extra hours a week. (Try one hour each morning, Monday through Friday. You can get a lot done with five hours a week!)
2. “I don’t have an idea”
There’s this illusion that one morning the perfect business idea will blossom in our minds. And until that day, we’re stuck twiddling our thumbs.
No! Coming up with ideas is a skill, and there are strategies that help.
One of the best strategies? Scratch your own itch.
That’s what Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante did when they started their watch company, MVMT.
“We both like watches, and there wasn’t any type of watch brand out there that we could really resonate with,” says Kassan.
They started talking to manufacturers and realized stylish watches didn’t have to break the bank. They could keep costs low by cutting out the retail middleman. Raising money through an Indiegogo campaign, the partners focused all their efforts in e-commerce. They have since sold over 600,000 watches.
If you don’t have an idea yet, forget about the vision board. Think about where you spend your three most valuable resources: time, attention, and money. That’s where you’ll find your business idea.
3. “I don’t know if I have the skills to run a business”
My business started in an empty Stanford classroom, where I taught personal finance.
It was empty because no one came! To a free class!
Later, I took the business online and proceeded to make every mistake in the book. I picked a terrible market. I didn’t start an email list for a year. It took me two years to sell my first product — a $4.95 e-book.
It’s embarrassing to look back on it, but I wouldn’t trade those early lessons for anything. It was my personal MBA, where I built the skills I didn’t have.
Today, we can host incredible, sold-out events that help amazing entrepreneurs connect with each other. We can launch new products to a million people at once. I certainly didn’t have those skills in the beginning. But I learned along the way.
So will you.
The key is, you don’t need inspiration or special tools. But you do need to start.
If you’re looking for more guidance on how to start a business in 2017, check out my Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business — completely free, with my compliments.
Ramit Sethi is a New York Times best-selling author and CEO of GrowthLab.com, where entrepreneurs go to launch and grow their online businesses. His first event was a free personal finance class that no one attended.