13 Reasons People Don’t Start Businesses and How to Overcome Them

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What’s stopping you from starting a business? 

In a 2021 Harris Poll, 92% of the people surveyed, who seriously considered starting a business, didn’t follow through. If you’re like those would-be entrepreneurs, your problem could be explained by one word—fear. 

What fears are keeping you from starting a business?

Even the most confident people, including successful entrepreneurs, have insecurities and fears. Here are some of the most common fears that stop potential entrepreneurs, like you, from starting a business.

1. Failure

No one enjoys experiencing failure. For many people, sticking with an unfulfilling job is simply a better option than experiencing outright failure as an entrepreneur. But this can be just as, if not more damaging to your confidence.

Do you see a problem with having this entrepreneurial fear of failure? You’ll end up missing out on invaluable lessons that only failure can teach. Though sometimes difficult to swallow, failure can ultimately guide you in creating exceptional business ideas and make you a better entrepreneur. 

Recommended Reading: 6 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

2. Imposter syndrome

In an age where people constantly compare themselves to unrealistic standards driven by social media, self-doubt has become the norm. This can lead to some form of Imposter Syndrome. Where you believe that you’re inadequate or incapable. 

Do you have doubts about your capabilities as a business owner? Take a step back and assess your strengths and weaknesses. This provides you with insights to fall back on.

You know why you can be successful as an entrepreneur. You know where you need to improve. And this can help you push back on any doubts or uncertainty that sets in.

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3. Rejection is inevitable

Rejection can be a terribly bitter ordeal. Starting a business demands being able to deal with rejection from prospective investors, suppliers, vendors, and even your target customers. Some people are going to love your new product or service. Others will be completely uninterested or even actively dislike what you have to offer.

The key is to focus on connecting with the audience you can benefit the most. There’s no need to please everyone, and trying to do so will be detrimental to your efforts.

4. Lack of experience or education

Many people are afraid to start a business because they lack the necessary education or experience. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who did just that. Unfortunately, a lack of education or experience still makes many feel potential business owners insecure about their chances. 

Fortunately, you’re living in the information age. With so many free educational resources available online, you can likely find answers to any question. And here’s the thing, no entrepreneur is an expert at everything. Even prolific founders and CEOs have to continue educating themselves to better set goals and navigate the ever-changing business landscape.

So, step outside of your comfort zone and push that fear of inexperience aside. You’ll learn more by trying to create a business than never trying in the first place. 

5. Lack of funds

You’ve likely heard the saying that it takes money to make money. While it may be a bit cliché, it’s absolutely true. There will be a point in time where funding is necessary to grow your business. 

For some, the need to acquire funds in order to pursue an idea can create paralyzing fear. Where will this money come from? How do you use it correctly? How much do you need?

All fair questions that shouldn’t deter you from starting. Instead, start by writing a business plan. Focus on establishing your business model, how you’ll make money, and creating an initial financial forecast. This tells you if you need external funding, how much you can potentially make, and ultimately if your business is sustainable.

If this sounds overwhelming, then maybe it’s best to start smaller. Use your free time to start a side hustle and slowly grow these efforts into a full-fledged business. This can minimize your risk and help you experiment with how your business could operate. In fact, some of the most successful companies in existence today, began as side-gigs

6. Success has its pitfalls

Some are afraid to start a business, not because of potential failure, but due to what comes with success. Will your friends, family, and even acquaintances suddenly want things from you? Will you suddenly be thrust into the spotlight, even on a local level?

Yes, success does come with many challenges. For everyone waiting to pounce on your success, there is a genuine person who would greatly appreciate your help. Hold onto why you want to start a business and let your mission drive you. Even if it leads to some detrimental success factors, it will be well worth it. 

7. Loss of freedom

Starting a business around something that you truly enjoy could be your path to personal freedom. It’s your idea that you are pursuing. You are now the boss and charting the path forward. 

However, when you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, there are no days off. No nights to forget about work or weekends to escape from customers. Those days are over. 

While your employees may do much or all of the physical work involved, the responsibility still falls to you. For some, the potential time away from family or less personal time can, unfortunately, be a dealbreaker. 

It’s a reasonable position that you’ll have to weigh for yourself. Is starting your own business worth losing this specific type of freedom? Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you can’t achieve a healthy work-life balance as a business owner. You’ll just need to make concessions at times to keep things moving.

8. Responsibility and stress

There’s a lot riding on you as a business owner. Employee health, customer engagement, government regulations, competitor movements, financial stability, the list goes on and on. 

Even if you have people on your team that share responsibility, the health of your business ultimately falls on you. This can be incredibly overwhelming when first starting out. If handled incorrectly it can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance, constant stress, and potentially large-scale business problems.

Luckily, much of this can be mitigated through proper planning. Don’t let the weight of responsibility and the threat of stress hold you back. Instead, focus on developing a lean strategy that helps you effectively manage it.

9. Lack of stability

There are so many what-if scenarios involved with starting a business. Some of the most stressful aspects fall outside of actually running your business. Instead, they are deeply rooted in your own financial stability. 

How will you pay your bills in the first couple of weeks or months as the business grows? Will you have to live off or completely deplete your savings? These concerns can be further compounded by children, long-term debts, etc.

Just keep in mind that even traditional employment doesn’t automatically mean stability. Companies downsize, budgets get trimmed, and faithful employees are let go. While your present job does offer immediate tangible stability, it, like starting a business, is never guaranteed. 

The difference is that as a business owner you are in control. With effective planning, you can actually minimize your risk and find greater stability. Will there be unknowns and uncertainties? Yes, but you are in a far better position to take these on without relying on someone else.

10. No ideas

Sometimes the biggest blocker to starting a business is simply not having an idea. You have the desire to get started and possibly have some functional elements in mind. Unfortunately, the product or service just isn’t making itself apparent. 

Don’t let the lack of an idea stop you. Try to inspire yourself. Chat with a friend, consider your passions, think about problems you’re experiencing, or even explore emerging trends. There are so many ways to find a business plan, it may just take time to find the right one.  

11. Finding the right team

As a business owner, you will have to trust employees with crucial tasks that could literally make or break your business. This means hiring the right people is an absolute must. Depending on your experience with co-workers and other employees, this may be a frightening ordeal. 

Just remember that employees are the backbone of any business. Hiring the best people is an exercise in judgment and trust. Rather than avoiding the process and never giving your business a chance, focus on the process.

Thoroughly scrutinize potential candidates. Involve the right team members, test a candidate’s skills, and take the time to lock in an absolute winner. Learn from the conversations you have and be willing to say no. Turn hiring from something you dread into one of your greatest opportunities to succeed.

12. Bleak economic outlook

High energy prices, inflation, rumors of food shortages, supply chain constraints, and increasing international conflict. Is this really the best time to start a business? 

Even when economic stability is uncertain, and caution becomes the norm, the reality is that there’s no perfect time. There will always be risks. Overcoming them requires adequate research and analysis. 

So don’t let a bleak financial situation stop you. Do the research, find the opportunity, and get started.

13. Personal struggles

Starting a business is a full-time commitment. This means you’ll have to juggle personal needs with your business needs far more than as a traditional employee. You may have to make some tough choices to ensure that your business keeps running.

It’s vital that you understand how to balance your time and ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Your business requires a lot of your attention, but it shouldn’t lead to a negative impact on your personal life. So, if you’re going through a serious hardship, it may be wise to wait on starting a business.

Obviously, at some point, you’ll have to deal with personal emergencies. This is why proper planning, including having contingency strategies in place, is imperative for the long-term success of your business.

Recommended Reading: 12 Types of Entrepreneurs Explained

How to overcome the fear of starting your own business?

Identifying why you’re struggling to start your business is just the first step. You still need to overcome them. Here are a few methods to break through the fear of entrepreneurship.

Redefine success

Success isn’t the same for everyone. For some, it’s achieving unparalleled growth and massive amounts of revenue. For other small businesses, it could be serving a community and reaching a level of comfortable sustainability. 

The best thing you can do is define what success means for you and let that guide your efforts. 

Entrepreneurship is different for everyone

What worked for other entrepreneurs may not work exactly the same way for you. Your journey is unique. You have to find the path and processes best suited for your personality, goals, and your definition of success in business.

Embrace change

Change is the only constant. Being an entrepreneur is about adapting. Successful entrepreneurs are those who learn to make adjustments as markets and consumer trends change. You have to be flexible and willing to make strategic changes that optimize your efforts.

Plan and prepare

While you can’t predict the future, you can set expectations and prepare to face adverse or beneficial circumstances. Explore unique scenarios, maintain an accurate financial forecast, and create contingency plans. The more you plan, the more prepared you’ll be, and the less you’ll have to fear. 

Planning to overcome fear 

Understanding why you’re hesitant to start a business can help you better overcome your fears. If you still have hesitations about entrepreneurship, the best thing you can do right now is create a Lean Plan. This fast and easy process is your guide to building the business you want and your key to finding success. 

If you want to get started on your Lean Plan right away, you can download our free Lean Plan template. If you’re looking for additional support to help you overcome the fear of starting a business, you may want to explore LivePlan.

It features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Check out how LivePlan can help you put your fears aside and grow as an entrepreneur.

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Kody Wirth
Kody Wirth
Kody currently works as the Inbound and Content Marketing Specialist at Palo Alto Software and runs editorial for both LivePlan and Bplans, working with various freelance specialists and in-house writers. A graduate of the University of Oregon, he specializes in SEO research, content writing, and branding.
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