I've long dreamed of starting my own business. How do I make the leap?
This issue our expert mentor is Michael Alden, business guru and author of the best-selling book Ask More, Get More. Michael overcame a traumatic childhood (born into poverty, his father, step-father and brother all were drug addicts, and his mother was infected by HIV). Coming close to turning into a criminal, Michael chose to clean up his act, become an attorney and eventually an entrepreneur. Today Michael runs Blue Vase Marketing, an Inc. 5000 infomercial consulting firm with more than 150 employees.
Community Q: I have long dreamed of starting my own business, but frankly I’m afraid. What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? My bank account is not exactly bursting, and every time I get ready to take the leap, I think about what I’m risking, and decide it’s safer to keep my job. Can you help me make the leap?
Michael Alden: “The biggest risk is not taking one.” I saw that quote several years ago and I will never forget it. I never wanted to be that guy, who forty years from now wished I took the risk to change my future.
Entrepreneurs take risks. We take risks that most people wouldn't even consider. To truly have the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset, you need to be willing to put it all on the line. From your 401(k) to your house, you have to be able to put all the chips in.
If you are looking for a job and want to be your own boss, then buy a franchise. To really minimize your risk, buy a well-established one. Now you are your own boss. Congratulations! You now just bought yourself a job.
But [true] entrepreneurs will start their own franchises. Entrepreneurs stay up at night thinking about how to build their businesses. They also try to minimize their risks by putting a plan in place.
I am [answering your question] while on my boat in the middle of the ocean on a Monday. You want to know how I did it? I took risks. I take them every day. Some pan out and some don't. But I take them.
Take a look at the most successful people of our time, [people like] Bill Gates. They take risks. So if you want the freedom of an entrepreneur, don't be afraid to take risks.
One final secret that will help minimize your risk. Be passionate about what you are doing. When all else fails, when the numbers don't seem to be adding up, when everyone is telling you to get a job, passion will get you through it.