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After three years of hard work, I’ve managed to build a successful web design business that allows me to craft my ideal lifestyle.
Namely, one that involves a lot of traveling, volunteer work, and not having to sit in a 9-5 cubicle in the sky for 67% of my life.
Lately, I’ve been getting more questions from friends, colleagues, and random internet friends about how I managed to do this, and how they can do it too.
In the process of explaining to them exactly how I did it, I noticed a disturbing amount of recurring excuses that found their way out of their mouths.
So, rather than respond to each one individually as they come up, I’ve decided to write a post about it.
I won’t lie to you, it’s… honest.
I hope this doesn’t come across as arrogant and obnoxious. My intention is to instill confidence and motivation in those who may be lacking in both. I have certainly been there many times.
That said, people come up with a lot of excuses about why they “can’t” build their own business and create their ideal lifestyle, and I’m tired of hearing them.
These are the 14 excuses I hear the most often.
“I don’t have enough time.”
“If you give an ant infinite time, he can move a mountain all by himself.” – Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert
I’m placing this excuse at #1 because it just might be the worst.
Fun fact: We all have the exact same amount of time. 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 365 days in a year.
How we spend that time is what makes us different.
Granted, we all have wildly differing circumstances that consume our time. Especially for those who suffer from debilitating diseases and disabilities, or a difficult childhood. It is a sad reality that some of us don’t get the same solid foundation from which to build our lives on.
Outside of that, you’re making choices about your priorities.
When you say “I don’t have time for X“, what you’re really saying is that “X” not high enough on your list of your priorities.
- You don’t have time to exercise 5 times a week, or you’d rather spend that time watching Netflix?
- You don’t have time to read 30 mins a day, or you prefer to spend your commute scrolling through Facebook?
- You don’t have time to start your side business, or you just like clubbing every weekend and sleeping off your hangover?
We all have the same amount of time. We make time for the things we care about most. Make your list of priorities and spend it wisely.
And hey, if clubbing every weekend is high on your priority list, then power to you. Knock yourself out.
Just own it, and stop saying you “don’t have time”.
“I’m too busy.”
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I’ll spend the first hour sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
At first glance, this might sound the same as “I don’t have time”. It’s not.
People love to talk about how busy they are. They wear it as a badge of honor. They think being busy means they’re being productive. And achieving optimal productivity is the Holy Grail of business culture. (particularly in North America)
But busy and productive are not one and the same.
A productive person knows how to effectively manage their time. A busy person wastes valuable time and energy by choosing to be ineffective. And they’re almost never aware that it is, indeed, a choice.
That quote from Lincoln explains it better than I ever could.
You’re not “too busy”. You just need to sit down and analyze how you’re managing your time.
“It won’t work.”
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister
You’re right. It might not work.
But it could work…
How can you know for sure unless you try?
“I don’t have enough money.”
“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want – that just kills creativity.” – Jack White
Some business startups need more money than others. If your business idea needs money to get off the ground, ask yourself:
- Do I really need that much to start?
- If yes, what do I need to do to get it?
Then, do it. It’s time to get creative.
If you need money, figure out what you need to do to get it. Develop skills, make connections, get investors, take out a loan… Just do something.
Or, even better, start a business that doesn’t require any money to get started. There are so, so many to choose from in the digital age.
The opportunities are there. You just have to make them.
“I’m not good enough.”
“Great companies have something in common: they don’t try to matter by winning. They win by mattering.” – Bernadette Jiwa, Author
That’s OK, neither am I.
I can pick any one of my skills and find thousands of other people who are much better at it than I am.
You don’t need to be the best in the world at something to build a successful business. You just need to be good at what you do.
You can, of course, push yourself to be the best in the world. I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines. But constantly comparing yourself to others will do nothing but cause frustration and discouragement.
The goal is simply to keep progressing, learning and improving. Never stop growing.
“I’m going to look dumb.”
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself… That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” – Neil Gaiman, Author
Why are we always drawn to flawed characters?
It’s funny how we are more attracted to someone when we find cracks in their armor, yet try desperately to keep ours hidden from the world.
We always believe that we are somehow worse than everyone else. That we are uniquely bad. But, when we discover that people who seem to have “the perfect life” actually have the same problems and struggles that we do, we don’t feel so alone anymore. We have a newfound sense of community.
The hard part is remembering that while we expose our inner thoughts, feelings and struggles with the world.
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.” – Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur
Do any of us?
Seriously, though. If you wait for the perfect time to act, when you think you have all of your ducks in a row, it will never happen. There is never a perfect time to jump in.
You just gotta do it. You’ll learn as you go, trust me.
Fail, adjust, continue.
“I don’t know any people.”
“When you complain, nobody wants to help you.” – Stephen Hawking
Come on, now. If you don’t know anyone, go meet some.
Talk to people. And, more importantly, listen to them.
In the beginning, your family and friends are going to be your most powerful network. If the thought of that makes you uncomfortable, you need to find some more supportive friends.
Your associations affect you more than you could ever know. If your friends just want to sit around and play video games every night, you’re going to end up doing that too.
Connect with peeps who share the same principles as you. They’re going to be your safety net when times get tough. (and trust me, they will)
“I’m too tired.”
“In the end, winning is sleeping better.” – Jodie Foster
Take care of yourself.
Yes, it’s true that this whole self-care movement has gone too far, fostering a world view that encourages the act of putting your own needs above all others, but the original idea was good.
Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep and remove toxic habits from your life.
It’s stupid simple, but the vast majority of people do the exact opposite.
If you’re constantly tired, it’s time to take better care of yourself. Feed your body and mind healthy food, and the results will come.
“Someone else is already doing it.”
“Whether it’s articulated or not, every business is driven by one of two philosophies. A company is either competition-driven or story-driven.” – Bernadette Jiwa, Author
Don’t worry about what other people are doing.
Is there only one running shoe company? Is Apple the only one that sells phones? Should Walmart hang up their cape because Amazon is here now?
Craft your story, and tell it to the world. Human beings never tire of good stories.
“This guy does it better though.”
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
You have two options:
- Be better than him
- Accept that you don’t have to be the best, and build a successful business anyway
You can even copy some of the aspects of their business that has made them successful. There is zero shame in that. Just add your own twist to it.
Or did you think I’m the first person who came up with the idea of building websites for small businesses?
“What if I fail?”
“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new.” – Ed Catmull, Founder of Pixar
It’s entirely possible, and even likely, that you will fail.
Building a business from scratch is a journey of failures. One after the other. If that sounds depressing to you, you need to reshape your definition of failing.
Some fails will hurt. There’s no doubt about that. But the wins… oh man, the wins feel so good. They make the entire journey worth it.
Besides, what’s the alternative? Let your fear of failing control you and hide away in your apartment for the rest of your life? You’re better than that.
“What if I succeed?”
“If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it.” – Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert
We live in a constant state of imposter syndrome. We doubt our accomplishments and fear that we will be exposed as a fraud.
In fact, some people are actually more afraid of success than failure. Others are simply not willing to pay the price that success demands.
You need to define what success means to you before you start this journey. Otherwise, how can you be sure that you’re not overpaying?
“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear, then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.” – Steven Pressfield, Author
Yah, I know. Me too.
Building your own business is hard work. But if the business you build allows you to live your ideal lifestyle, there is no better feeling when it all it comes together.
Patience. Patience is so, so important. Too many people expect their life dreams to happen over night. They give up before they’ve even started. Don’t be one of those people.
Start with a side gig. Anything. Ideally something online. The internet offers so many opportunities to people all over the world from all kinds of backgrounds.
Even if you fail at your first, second and third attempts, you will have built up a repertoire of useful skills that you can bring to your next job interview.