Starting a business is supposed to be highly rewarding, exciting and challenging. You get to be your own boss, you get to set your direction and pursue the opportunities you are interested in. If you are working from home, you can even work in your pajamas or anytime you want.
Yet not everyone pursues the paths of entrepreneurship. Here are the common reasons why people don’t start their own businesses:
1. Fear of failure.
Starting a business is a big risk — sometimes it will work, and sometimes it will not. Many are afraid of starting a business because of the looming fear that their business will fail. This fear may result from feelings of inadequacy, or they may have experienced past failures in their lives that they do not want to replicate the feeling with the very real risk of failure in starting a business. They may also feel incompetence, and plagued by self-doubts.
2. Inadequate resources to start a business.
They have little to no money to start a business. They also do not know where to find the capital they need to start a business. They have savings, no rich families and friends to borrow from, and they have poor credits that will not pass the banks’ lending criteria. So even if they want to start a business, the lack of capital is a huge stumbling block for them.
3. No exposure to entrepreneurship.
They have never been exposed to entrepreneurship so they did not consider starting a business to be an option for them. Everyone in their lives has worked, or is working, for someone else and so they have been conditioned to think that being an employee is the only path for them. Many entrepreneurs have parents or relatives who have started or run their own businesses, inspiring them to do the same and pursue the paths of entrepreneurship.
4. Don’t want the stress of entrepreneurship.
Starting and managing a business can be very stressful. It typically means understanding the market, developing the right products that will address the needs of the target market, and possessing the skills needed to jumpstart and run the business. All of these activities can be challenging, especially if things are not going well — from problems raising capital for the venture to generating more sales to finding distributors to the products.
5. Passion for their Jobs.
They found a passion for their work in their jobs. They love their current jobs, and there’s nothing in the world they want to do but work in their current jobs. They already feel that the corporate world gives them the challenging, exciting environment that they crave. There’s no reason to resign and start a business because they have already found the perfect job for themselves.
6. Lifestyle choice.
They have made the conscious decision to live with less, where they deliberately reduce their consumption and cashflow. Hence, they do not see starting a business — and potentially earning significant amounts of money — as supportive of the lifestyle they wanted.
7. Views starting a business as tough, hard work.
There are people who work 16-hour workdays, or work in two or three jobs (aside from their full time jobs). But despite the hard work and the long hours they put in, they still have barely enough to live by. They are still living paycheck to paycheck. If they are already working that hard to earn a decent livable income, they think that starting a business requires double that effort, which they don’t want.
8. Poor view of people with money.
They don’t view people with money — such as entrepreneurs and business owners — positively. They think these people are greedy, unhappy, stressed and obsessed with making more money, so they don’t want to be like them. They’re sure money will change them, even corrupt them, so they eschew starting a business and earning more money. They think that earning a lot of money such as through entrepreneurship comes at too steep of a price. Hence, they’ve decided that they do not want to be entrepreneurs and business owners.
9. No idea what business to start.
Even if they are amenable to the idea of starting a business, their next comment is, “But I do not know what business to start.” Deciding and determining what business to start is a huge stumbling block for many. There are simply too many existing businesses to choose from that they don’t know which one will work and which one will work for them. Or they may want to create something totally new, but they have no idea what that is. Some simply have not found an opportunity worth pursuing.
10. Fear of selling.
Whether you have a service-oriented business or producing a product, being in business means selling. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t know how to sell. They are intimidated by the whole process of selling, especially during negotiations. They don’t think they have the gift of glib excellent salesmen are supposed to have. They fear rejection, especially in terms of prospecting clients.
11. Need the security of a steady paycheck.
Starting a business can be a roller coaster ride: sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. This means that there might be days of plenty, but also days when cashflow is extremely tight especially during a down economy. There are people who cannot live with the downs and ups of running a business, and instead prefer the stability and security of a job and a regular paycheck.
12. Not driven to succeed.
They have no big ambitions for themselves. They are content to live their lives peacefully, calmly without any stress brought about by starting a business. They have no profit motive. And if money is a motivator, they feel that they can get it from their current jobs working within an organization, instead of spearheading one.
Recommended Books on Starting a Business:
- Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup
- The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs
- Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need
- The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
Article originally published on August 29, 2013. Updated on December 14, 2019
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- Confronting Your Fears When Starting a Business