Taking the Leap to Start a Business | Diane Sanfilippo

Taking the Leap to Start a Business

Taking the leap to start your business (and overcoming *the scaries*).

It can be scary to take the leap to start your own business.

Whether you’re starting something from scratch, creating a program or product, looking for a small side hustle, or you’re working on building a network marketing business, it’s never easy.

Some of the most common fears I hear:

What if I fail?

What if succeed? Followed up by, who am I to do this work?

What I can’t afford to make it work?

What if I don’t have it all figured out before I start?

What if I burn out?

What if I made a mistake?

I have news for you…

You will fail, at least some of the time.

You will succeed, at least some of the time.

You may not be able to afford to make it work.

You can’t possibly have it all figured out before you start.

You will burn out.

You will make mistakes.

Yes, I really just started this post by affirming all of your fears. Every last one of them.

The truth is that all of those fears will become real at some point if you’re trying to create work for yourself.

In this post, I’ll talk about two of these fears that I think are at the core of them all. Perhaps in future posts I’ll address some of the others.

What if I fail?

Newsflash – You WILL fail.

Your failures may be small or large. You may fail one day but not the next. But failures have a major upside: through failing, we learn.

By failing, you’ll learn what not to do. Maybe you’ll learn a way of doing things that doesn’t work. Or maybe you’ll learn what to do better next time.

If you’ve heard of the concept of a “growth mindset,” the idea of failure becomes a bit less scary.

The truth is, what have you ever done in life that you didn’t get a little bit wrong the first time? Did you get onto a bicycle and immediately know how to ride it, without being unbalanced or ever falling off? Not likely.

So, the assumption that you’ll start a business and immediately just get everything right is a really dangerous one, because it’s flat-out not true.

You will fail, and you need to know it’s going to happen so that you’re ready to handle it when it does.

The ability to understand that failure is part of what you sign up for when you start a business – this is critical. There are no successful entrepreneurs who haven’t failed, or who don’t fail at something every day. The reason they’re successful isn’t because they don’t fail, it’s because they never let those failures stop them.

If you let failure stop you and see it as a reason to shut-down instead of show-up and improve, you’re not cut out to own your own business. Period.

If you can’t afford to quit your job and start a new business or side hustle today, then don’t.

Don’t quit your job just because you have a passion for something else.

Hear me out on this one, because I’m not saying not to start your side hustle.

I’m saying, if you can’t afford to quit your job, don’t. If you can’t afford to invest a big chunk of money in something you’re feeling unsure about, don’t.

Don’t be foolish with your safety and security, or that of your family.

But, if you hate your job and you’re passionate about something else, and you want to start a business in that something else, it’s important to get started slowly but surely.

You can moonlight – work after-hours and on weekends to build on your passion. In fact, you have to take this approach.

Building your business isn’t something that needs to put you and your family at financial risk. Sure, every business involves some inherent risk. You never know what exactly will happen. But, the risk you can take at this point is by investing your time more so than your money. And, your time spent doing things you hate, or wasting it watching TV or scrolling Instagram – that’s wasted time. That’s time you could be spending working towards something you love.

Sure, there’s a good chance you’ll need to spend at least some money to get started with your business or side hustle. But, when things are new, it’s perfectly fine to take it slowly. You can be methodical and work more than one “job” or “gig” while you build up the ability to earn real money at what was once your side-hustle.

Truth: not everyone is an entrepreneur. And that’s a good thing!

Entrepreneurs also need passionate individuals like you who can join forces with them to build something great, together.

You have to work a lot of hours for a long time if you need financial security before you can do the work that makes you feel happier and more fulfilled every day.

Not everyone is cut out for that type of hard work. You may not be. Don’t let the current entrepreneurially-focused-social-media-world create an illusion that everyone really is an entrepreneur.

I’d argue that you’re a true entrepreneur or you’re ready to take the leap when the fear is not your barrier. Maybe you need to save more money, or get a certification, or something else is the barrier.

But if fear is holding you back, I’m a little worried for you that your mindset isn’t right to be an entrepreneur.

You will be sort of scared all the time when you run a business or have a side-hustle, and it’s part of the path. You’ve got to be used to it and okay with it to be resilient the way an entrepreneur must be.

What if I made a mistake?

I am taking this to mean “what if I quit my job and it turns out to have been the wrong decision?”

There are a few problems with this fear, honestly.

  1. This fear implies that you can possibly know now if what you’ll choose to do later or tomorrow will be the right decision.
  2. This fear implies that you are ill-equipped as a problem-solver.
  3. This fear implies that you are not willing to live differently for a while (maybe a long while) in order to spend more of your time doing work that lights you up.

I’ve started, run, and then closed or transitioned out of several businesses over the course of my life. Does this mean any of them were mistakes?

Would you tell me that no longer making jewelry to sell, working as a graphic designer, or no longer working 1:1 with nutrition clients are mistakes?

Of course you wouldn’t, they’re simply part of my journey and my path.

If you quit your job to start a business, and you’re not properly prepared, you haven’t invested enough time into it, or you flat out realize you are not cut out for it, what’s the true harm?

I think the biggest mistake most people make is caring what this process looks like to people who don’t understand it.

At this point, your actual fear is not whether or not your decision will have been “the right one,” but of embarrassment.

And, who are the people in your life who will judge and/or ridicule you for it in that event?

Again, I’m not one to tell you to be foolish with your finances, or to quit a job tomorrow just because you don’t love it.

Be smart. Make a plan. Work harder than you are now. Take steps to get yourself moving in the right direction.

Move. Live with less. Stop getting $5 lattes. Drive a less expensive car. Drive less often. Cut back on expenses for things that are not essential. This is all part of what it takes to make your decision not a mistake.

No one can ever know if their new business will “work,” but what you can know is whether or not YOU WILL WORK.

I can’t ever get a guarantee about whether or not a product I create will sell. Because that’s not how business works – products don’t just sell because you put effort into creating them.

You have to keep on working – it’s a constant process, and it’s hard.

Only take the leap to start your business when you can’t not do it. Otherwise, you’re either not ready or you’re not cut out for it.

I want to hear from you – tell me what you think in the comments below. Are you cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Maybe you’re realizing a side-hustle is the right thing, and maybe not being *the* entrepreneur isn’t so bad?

Are you so scared that you just don’t do things in all areas of your life?

Do you realize that your fears are insecurities that will definitely not be resolved avoiding doing hard things?

Tell me about it below.

Want to hear more from me on starting a business and the fears that come with it?

Check out these Build a Badass Business Podcast episodes:

Episode 2: Fear, part 1: Why are you afraid?

Episode 3: Fear, part 2: Where is your fear rooted?

Episode 54: What I can and can’t teach you about building a successful business.


12 thoughts on “Taking the Leap to Start a Business

  • Shelley Verducci says:

    I so appreciate this. My favorite line in this article:
    “I think the biggest mistake most people make is caring what this process looks like to people who don’t understand it.”
    And you’re right. The fears that I have, the one that churns my stomach the most, is what other people will think, specifically my parents.
    And the other factor for me is the financial factor. But the small changes you listed like the various areas to save money now, making small changes financially to set my family up so that when I make the transition to my own business, we will be in a smart financial position. I hadn’t thought of making those types of changes, but they are doable, especially because I want this that bad.

  • Nicole Stoddard says:

    I still have some fear about creating and launching my own business, but I am at the point that I can’t NOT do it, as you say. Two years ago I never would have felt this way. I have had so much personal growth, and I think that has been key in changing my mindset.

    • EXACTLY! I was afraid to launch spices – for sure. I thought about it since I put the recipes in Practical Paleo in 2012, but I was gun-shy on owning inventory and handle fulfillment and all that since I had done it in a past business and didn’t want to deal with it again. But I found a way forward thanks to the help of a friend at first, and now on my own. We just have to start!

  • Hi Diane and readers; slightly different question but perhaps you have some insight. What if someone wants to make a career change but doesn’t know what to do. Yes, I’ve made lists, thought about it, talked, etc, but I’m still feeling lost. Any thoughts?

    • Ask your friends (the good ones, who get it) what they see as what you’re passionate about. Then consider learning more or going back to school in some capacity if you need to figure it out more… then it may appear. Or, perhaps you’re passionate about something but don’t want to be the entrepreneur, which is also okay! Work alongside someone in a business that you want to support.

  • Thank you for this! I’m in the beginning stages of starting my business and while yes it is scary and there is some fear, I am at the point where I can’t not do it. I work a full time job and right now the side hustle is what is right for me, so it’s refreshing to hear you mention that that is okay. I’ve always had the entrepreneur spark in me, so I’m not letting the fear stop me.

  • Diane,
    Just want to let you know that what you write is a true inspiration.
    I have recently retired from a 33 yr nursing career. Starting out on a new adventure involving my over 50 ‘friends’ and living a healthy life.
    My focus is exercise and nutrition 🙂
    I came across your book yesterday at the library. My sugar is fairly under control, 50 total gr/day, but the cravings are still powerful.
    So, just for fun, I’m starting the 21 day detox TODAY 🙂 I would like to be (will be) recommending your book, so I want to know how it feels to do it.
    BTW, the book is gorgeous. I love it. The layout, the feel, the graphics, the quotes, the information made easy to understand… your philosophy. I’m totally on board.
    Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I recently reduced my hours at my day job to start transitioning my side hustle into its own business, and in the process, I have found out a lot of things.
    1) It’s a privilege to be paid for my hours of learning.
    2) I am majorly burning out on some of the core services I am selling, which means I shouldn’t be doing those things ALL of the time (and I don’t have to at my day job!).
    3) My boss at my day job really loves me and will pay me a lot more than I was making in order to keep me there.
    4) I really love my day job, even more now that I’ve had the chance to do other types of work.
    5) Doing new kinds of work has made me better at my day job (and vice versa!).
    I’m not sure yet whether or not I’ll keep trying to transition out of my day job. I don’t want to give up just because I’m running into some problems early on. I also want to be comfortable seeing all the things I’m learning as positive, even if it means I have to switch directions. And that switching directions isn’t bad! In my case, I think everyone is truly benefitting from my experiments with launching a business. Except maybe my bank account. But in a short period of time, that won’t be the case, no matter which direction I take. And this entire experience has been really great for my self-confidence. It stinks to feel stuck. It’s liberating to feel potent, desirable, and have the opportunity to make a real choice for my life.

  • Hi Diane,
    Thank you so much for helping me look at failing as progress or something I can learn from. My background growing up was that we were expected to be perfect, mistakes were not allowed and if you were going to do anything you better be good at it right away. Needless to say, as an adult in my 50’s I’m still trying to conquer that fear of failure and attempting things you might not know will work out perfectly. I have found something that I am passionate about doing but still also worry about what people will think, especially my parents… Thanks again!!

  • Hi Diane! Thank you for the post! I am a Bauman NC Grad who recently had a baby so I’ve been struggling lately with how to “find time” to get back to building my nutrition business in the midst of having a full time job and now being a Mommy to a 9 month old baby boy. We’re just starting to get actual sleep (like 7-8 hours straight….YAY) so I just needed a little push to get me back into the groove. This article was just what I needed!
    Christina O’Brien

  • I can’t not do it. After being forced to close a gym and tanning business that I owned and ran for 5 years, I went back to my old career and felt completely suffocated. I rented my building to a tenant with a budding business. Due to a medical issue, she decided to get out. So there I was faced with finding a new tenant and a building full of goods. So, I bought her out. I am terrified, but working through my fears. This article has helped. I can’t not do this and I could not be in a better situation overall to do so.

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