Ever dreamed about starting a business but not taken action on it? Maybe you had an idea to fill a gap years ago, and it just won’t go away? If this is you, there’s a good chance it’s one of three common self limiting beliefs that are holding back your inner entrepreneur.

Getting started is half the battle

If you’re prepared to learn fast, work harder than you’ve ever worked before and persevere until you finally breakthrough to success, building your own business can be one of the most rewarding personal development exercises you will ever undertake – mentally, spiritually, emotionally – and yes, maybe even financially. But here’s the thing, in order to build your business, you first have to start it.

So what is it that stops people from starting? Why is it that for every person who has taken the bold step into entrepreneurship, there are so many others with just as much talent and potential, who haven’t?

Over the years I’ve met, spoken and worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs from different age groups, personalities, industries and experience levels.

And if there’s one thing I’ve discovered that they all have in common, it’s that before any of them were able to get started, they first had to develop an entrepreneurial mindset that enabled them to do so.

What do I mean by mindset? I’m talking about the conscious and/or subconscious beliefs that act as a lens through which we see ourselves and the world, and therefore govern all our decisions – including whether or not entrepreneurship is for us.

These beliefs can either help you achieve your goals (empowering beliefs) or prevent you from achieving your goals (disempowering beliefs).

Beliefs related to the fear of failure (eg “If I fail I will look stupid”) are widely responsible for people avoiding new things in all areas of life. For example new activities, sports, artistic pursuits or almost any other activity that may result in “failure”.

But there are three common disempowering beliefs specific to entrepreneurship that must first be identified and eliminated, in order for you to have any chance of starting your own business.

Self Limiting Belief #3: “I don’t have enough money to get started”

Sound familiar? Other self limiting beliefs in this category are, “It takes money to make money”, or “I don’t want to lose all my money.”

I won’t spend too long on this one because I’ve written about it here in detail before.

Suffice to say, yes some ideas, businesses or projects may require more capital than you have right now, or than you can afford to lose.

All the more reason to start your entrepreneurial journey by investing your time, not your money, on a smaller or less risky opportunity that you can manage right now.

Not only will this enable you to begin your entrepreneurial journey right now, it will also help you develop the skills, experience and knowledge that will enable you to work up to the big opportunity you believe you need all that cash for.

Entrepreneurship is a marathon. We’ve all heard stories of famous and mind-bogglingly rich entrepreneurs who started out selling lollies to school mates, or with a weekend lemonade stand.

Small opportunities executed well now will open up the door and resources, to newer, bigger and more ambitious opportunities (like launching your own space travel company) later.

Abandoning your dreams of entrepreneurship because you don’t have any money is the very definition of irony!

Self Limiting Belief #2: “I’m not smart enough”

This and other variations of it – such as “I don’t have any experience” or “I’m just not business minded” – make up the second most common group of excuses. They are similar in a way to Self Limiting Belief #3 in that they are to do with a perceived “scarcity of resources.”

But so what if you don’t have a chemistry degree? So what if you don’t know how to code? So what if you don’t have experience in business?

If you are truly committed, there is always a way. Your job as an entrepreneur is to make things happen in spite of your lack of resources, know-how included.

There are plenty of other people who have all the knowledge, skills, intelligence and experience you will ever need, right now.

Your job is to apply yourself to your idea, or the problem you wish to solve with all the vigor, enthusiasm and tenacity you can muster in order to find and assemble the people, knowledge and capital required.

Believe me when I say that there are plenty of people out there with very ordinary educations, average or lower than average IQ’s, and all sorts of learning disabilities and personality disorders who are making a living or a fortune doing something they love.

Why not join them?! 🙂

Self Limiting Belief #1: “All the good ideas have already been taken.”

And so to the self limiting belief I hear most often. Another variation on this is, “If it was such a good idea someone else would have done it by now.”

Has anyone ever said this to you? Send them this article.

When I first thought about starting a business, I too suffered from this delusion.

“But we are at the height of our evolution – there is no idea now (1999) that someone else hasn’t already thought of,” I would think to myself.

Hmmm – good thing the world’s dreamers, inventors, makers and entrepreneurs didn’t start using this excuse 2, 20, 200 or 2000 years ago then!

If the “lack of a good idea” is holding you back, understand that your idea does not have to be 100% new, perfect or unique. In fact it doesn’t even need to be your own idea – why not start by simply improving on someone elses?!

If you have an idea that you think might be even a 10% improvement on a product, service, or solution that already exists, you owe it to yourself and the world to pursue it. It’s called evolution.

Better still, stop looking for ideas altogether and start looking for problems you feel passionate about solving.

Too many people are waiting for inspiration to strike them in a single “lightbulb” moment. In reality inspiration most often comes with the tenacious application of ones mind to a problem you care enough about solving.

You are a valued citizen of “spaceship Earth” and have just as much right, and just as good a chance as anyone else, to be able to contribute to the betterment of all our lives. There will always be room for, and a requirement for imagination, invention and innovation.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are probably right.” – Henry Ford

If any of these disempowering misconceptions have stopped you from starting a business – either consciously or subconsciously – the first thing you need to do is eliminate and replace them with better, empowering beliefs.

It’s true, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But how are you going to know until you’ve tried?


Richard Liew is founder and editor at NZ Entrepreneur.