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Shortly after getting engaged to Heath and quitting my job, I started babysitting two little kids. I picked up the girl from school every day and babysat the boy on Saturdays and Sundays.
You could say this was a great introduction to running my own business—I ended up working literally every day.
Or you could say this is what motivated me to start my own business. I was 23, with a shiny college degree, and doing the same job as when I was 11 and had to be picked up by my mom.
Needless to say, I needed to get my act together and figure out a way to make money that didn’t involve diapers, working on someone else’s clock, and preferably something I could do while traveling to all fifty states for my honeymoon.
Only problem: I had no idea how to start a business.
Was there paperwork involved? Probably.
Am I actually qualified to do anything?
Was there a long awkward pause after I asked that last question because the answer is a big fat NO? Yup.
Should I have listened to my dad and taken a couple of business classes in college? Okay, let’s not waste time with regrets and get back to the point.
Luckily for me, Heath ran a business during college and had a business degree, so he had the confidence and swagger to convince me that together we could actually start our first business.
Together we’ve created a few different successful income streams and a few failures (ask me about “Megaphone Social” some time). Along the way, we ran into a lot of barriers—some emotional, some actual, most of them mental. In fact, I’ve been working for myself for six years and still some of these bad boys creep into my head trying to convince that I can’t actually do this.
But I can.
And so can you.
So let’s tackle six barriers to starting your business—and then actually start it.
Not interested in starting your own business? Find a remote job and work from anywhere.
1. I’m not qualified.
Whether you call it insecurity or imposter syndrome or a simple lack of confidence, starting your own business is a great way to feel terrible about yourself. But I’m not qualified to do anything, you may internally whine. Taking such a big perceived risk makes all those fears in your head 10x louder.
I love this tweet from my friend Chris.
It’s funny to me how working for yourself (in whatever form) is still seen as “too risky” by a lot of people. Isn’t the real risk in entrusting your future to anyone else?
— Chris Guillebeau (@chrisguillebeau) February 17, 2020
I don’t have much experience working in an office, but in my head, I can see Michael Scott as being the “anyone else” Chris references here. Can I imagine putting my future in my boss’ hands like that?
Obviously that’s over the top, but it embodies the idea of choosing yourself. Yes, it’s risky, but I trust me way more than I trust someone else to make my dreams happen. If I want to [start a marketing agency, write a book, teach music, etc] then it’s up to me to make that happen.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
– Dale Carnegie
One of the first books I read, when Heath and I started picking up freelance clients, was Choose Yourself by James Altucher. Loved it and it gave me so much confidence to believe I could actually do this. You can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.
2. I don’t have enough money.
This might be the most legitimate barrier to starting a business. It takes money to make money as they say.
But not all businesses require you to have any money to get started. Heath has spent the past four years bootstrapping his software company (bootstrapping, I’ve learned, is the cool way of saying not taking on any investment and doing it all on your own. I believe it’s used to make you sound more badass) and freelance work using sites like Upwork cost you nothing.
Heath loves the concept of runway: the idea of figuring out how much time and money you have available to you to make a project work. If you have a year’s worth of runway in savings, you can take your time building up your business. If you have less, maybe you continue working and start a business on nights and weekends.
See what works and figure out what you’re good at. If you have a week’s worth of runway, you might not want to quit your day job just yet.
Also, let me clear:
You do not have to quit your job to start your own business.
Some people think they have to go all in and have no distractions to start their business, but if you don’t have savings to support you, then you are going to run yourself into the ground with stress. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be successful right away! Businesses take time.
If you don’t have savings and need income recurring monthly, try the side hustle route. You can start your own business with only a few hours a week and quit your day job once you hit that magic number of income or once you’ve built up your runway. Our friends Chris—the same one I quoted above actually—has an awesome Side Hustle School podcast with over 1000 episodes (Heath is #1017) as well as a best selling book appropriately called Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. Highly recommend both!
3. I don’t have enough time.
If you don’t have kids, you cannot even say you don’t have enough time. You do.
It’s true what they say— before kids, you were never, ever busy. I was swimming in time!
Now I’ve got a toddler running around, my best shot at being productive is when she’s asleep. The rest of my day is spent in crisis management mode, trying to prevent her from pulling our emergency brake in the RV, removing every article of clothing from every drawer, and catching her when she decides to leap off the bed.
So if I want to hustle on my business (which right now means writing my next book), I have to wake up a couple of hours before Ellie. I squeeze in a yoga class and 2500 words before she wakes up and then I work on other projects during nap time. If mornings are literally the worst for you, then it might mean staying up later at night.
People like to say that there is only so much time in a day, which is technically true. But you can also create and carve out time to work on your business with a little intentionality—starting with early mornings or late nights. If you’re going the side hustle route, this is your time to focus 100% on your new venture.
You can also create time if you:
- Delete all social media off your phone or use screentime to set time limits (mine is set to 20 minutes a day)
- Use plugins like Newsfeed Eradicator to hide your Facebook timeline so you don’t get sucked in
- Cancel subscriptions to services like Netflix or Hulu
- Work during your lunch breaks if you’re still at a job
- Use a service like Trello or Asana to keep your to-do list all in one place so you don’t waste time trying to figure out what to work on next
- Stop playing games (I moved the one game I play on my phone to the last page of apps and instantly stopped playing it so much. Out of sight, out of mind.)
- Meal prep one day a week
Yes, doing any number of these things requires a small sacrifice. But if you aren’t willing to sacrifice anything to make your business work, then you’ll probably never be successful as an entrepreneur anyway.
4. I don’t want to give up my health insurance (who doesn’t?).
Okay of all the barriers I’ve listed so far, this is hands down the most legitimate.
Let’s be brutally honest here: Healthcare options for entrepreneurs suck. Add in traveling full-time and you’ve got a recipe for DISASTER. (Just read our own healthcare saga here.) If your current job offers health insurance, this is another great reason to side hustle with your new business.
But as Marie Forleo says: everything is figureoutable.
(You might want to get that tattooed on the back of your hand so you can see it every time you’re typing away. It’s a good confidence boost. You can figure it out!)
We’ve used healthsharing options over the past few years as opposed to regular health insurance. There are even better options if you’re not in America (shocking, I know) like Safety Wing which can cover you almost anywhere in the world (great for global digital nomads). Or you can find a multitude of options using RVer Insurance to source possible plans to cover you anywhere in the country.
It’s completely figureoutable, if not annoying as hell.
5. I don’t have a support system who believes in my dream.
Why start a business if no one believes in you?
I’ve been ruminating on how we told our family and friends about our plans to move into an RV and travel the country and start our own business. The response from other adults was overwhelmingly negative. Why would we leave our well-paying jobs? Why did we think we could actually do this? Plus the ever-skeptical “good luck” that clearly translates to “I’ll try not to tell you I told you so when you fail, but let’s be real. I told you so.”
If you’re trying to start your own business and feeling like no one supports your dream, you are not alone.
This is a big reason why we created our RV Entrepreneur Facebook group. There are 16,000 amazingly supportive people there to encourage and support you.
If your current friends don’t support you, it’s time to make some new ones. Our group is a great place to start.
6. I don’t have a good idea to start my business.
This was me. This is where I got stuck in the beginning. What am I good at? Posting photos of my food on Instagram? I’m only getting like 27 likes per post. Probably not good enough to charge for Instagram consulting.
If you don’t know what you’re good at, let’s grab a pen and paper folks.
Draw and title three columns:
- What I do at my current job/what I’ve done at past jobs (“cut up snacks for the kids I babysit” was high on my list, so whatever your work experience is here and however irrelevant it might seem, write it down)
- What I know how to do and I’m good at
- What I love doing
Ideally, you’ll find tasks that are relisted across every column. For me, writing made each list. Project management and event planning made the lists too. Eventually, film and video editing would be added. (So maybe make this list in a Google doc or on your computer instead of on paper so you can’t easily lose it. Your lists will grow and change as you work.)
Once you have a few skills that you can do, love to do, and have experience doing, think of how you can put that skill to work. Can you pick up freelance gigs on a site like Upwork? Do you want to start a company of one? Are you going to build a product and a team? Use your list of skills to funnel your options.
For a list of business ideas, you can download our free ebook: 50 Business Ideas Run by Real RVers.
It’s a little risky.
To be an entrepreneur, you can’t be risk-averse. Running your own business is a huge risk, that’s why the first and biggest barrier I listed is having the confidence to bet on yourself.
I also would like to say that over time some of these lies fade away into the sunset and never pop up again, but that’s not true (and I think most entrepreneurs would agree with that sentiment). The only successful path I’ve found in getting over these lies is first, realizing they are actual lies and are not reality.
You have time.
You can make up for a lack of money with resourcefulness.
You can find healthcare.
You can find people who will bet on you.
You don’t need the perfect idea to get started (just something to get started. There’s a good chance your first one won’t be the one that works out anyway).
And lastly, you are qualified. Actually, scratch that. You probably aren’t, but neither was I and neither is almost every entrepreneur when they first got started. Being qualified means nothing and people who are overly qualified often struggle to get started too.
Not being qualified is a gift. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The only thing that makes you qualified is if you do the work and get started.
If there’s one way I’ve found to help quiet the lies bouncing around in my head, it’s just to get to work and get started. Start small. Start now.