It’s been an interesting week I have met many new and interesting people. I have also been noticing how many people are stuck in the preparing to get started or getting started mode. It seems that every second person I met this week was an advisor, consultant, coach, facilitator, or similar with a website, a business card but no clients and therefore no income. All were still in the Getting Started trap.
For the first time, I joined Chuck Bartok on his Wednesday evening weekly phone in show. The subject came up and from the comments it seems that this has become widespread in the digital age.
Why should this be? Some Causes.
- Low or No Barriers to Entry
- Information Overwhelm
- Slick promotions
- Shiny Object Syndrome.
Low or No Barriers to Entry
In the pre-digital age, way back before the Internet, smart phones and email, it took an investment of time money or both to be self-employed, to start practically any business or profession. The common starter type businesses were small retailers, tea-rooms, restaurants, country hotels, pet boarding kennels, small farms. All required that premises or land be bought or rented, there were overheads to be covered, supplies or inventory purchased and in most cases wages to be paid.
Money had to be invested.
Professionals, had to invest years and dollars to get a qualification, followed by an investment in offices, equipment and staff or by buying into an existing practice before they could join the ranks of the self-employed.
The same with contractors in the skilled trades, some years in an apprenticeship and college, an investment in tools, equipment, vehicles and in some cases premises for workshops.
One of the few categories of self employment with low or no barriers to entry, were commission only sales people- primarily in Life Assurance and Real Estate. Network Marketing fell into this category. It’s not surprising that the categories with the lowest barriers to entry generally experienced the highest failure and drop out rates.
All of these constraints had two results.
They excluded all but the most determined and resourceful aspiring entrepreneurs. Entry into most types of business was difficult or impossible for the majority of people.
It took time, several years in most cases, to save or raise the cash for investing in a business, gaining the qualifications, building networks of contacts and potential clients. By the time it was possible to start a business, the owner had already served an apprenticeship, either formal or informal, gained the essential skills necessary for that type of business and general business and life skills. There was a reason the apprenticeship system worked so well for hundreds of years, it was the road to Mastery as Robert Greene explains in his book of that name.
Even in the early days of the internet, not every one had access to a computer or an internet connection. Both required a bigger investment than today.
Now it takes such a small an investment to set up a website that there is virtually no barrier to anyone with a smart phone or a few dollars to start a business.
People become desperate in economic down turns and periods of high unemployment. An internet based business is a more attractive alternative to most newly unemployed than some of the few jobs that are available. Spending time on the computer is, more satisfying than doing nothing, but it’s not effective if it’s not growing the business.
Never in the history of mankind has there been so much information available to so many people.
In the pre-Internet age, it took an effort to find information relevant to a business or business idea. Visits to libraries, time-consuming research. Because of the time element and the media providing the information, research efforts were tightly focused. When reading the regulations for setting up a restaurant in a government publication at the library, for example, it was unlikely that we would be flooded with adverts and links to articles about, advertising, social media, point of sale systems or web design.
The hype that is associated with most promotions for information and courses on a huge range of Internet-based businesses from affiliate marketing to zen lifestyle blogs and the comparatively low-cost of many of them, easily persuades inexperienced, often desperate people that an Internet-based business is easy. It is simple, but for most, neither easy nor quick.
Shiny Object Syndrome
For both the preparing to start and the getting started, this can be a huge distraction. Continually buying and learning about new tools and systems, trying new advertising channels, new social media platforms. Spending hours on learning new tactics without having a strategy in place.
Is there hope?
Absolutely yes. I subscribe to the belief that we are all capable of being, doing and having anything we want. To live the extraordinary life of our dreams.
But success requires work – effort and thinking. It requires much more than hoping, wishing and spending hours on Facebook and elsewhere talking about what you are going to do. Connecting with people in social media is only effective if it results in sales. Likes and retweets do not pay the bills.
What is the answer? How do you get out of the “getting started” trap. By applying the same thinking you would if you were going make a huge investment of time and dollars in a conventional, off-line business. Have a strategy and a plan, do your research and go for it with determination and focus. Ignore the distractions.
Will the situation change soon? When the next wave of disrupting technology washes over us.