By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you scared to start a business? You’re certainly not alone. I’ve been talking to entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs since the 1980s, and if I had a dollar for everyone I met who was letting fear of startup hold them back, I’d be driving a Rolls-Royce.
So it doesn’t surprise me to learn that starting a business was rated scarier than getting a divorce, becoming a parent for the first time or moving to a new city by more than 1,700 people in a new survey by The UPS Store. Overall, starting a business was ranked the second-scariest life event (just behind worries over retirement savings).
But should you let startup fears hold you back from starting a business? Let me ask you this: If you have taken the plunge and had children even though you were nervous about it, how do you feel about your decision today? Yeah, I thought so.
Well, just like becoming a parent, starting your own business is terrifying–but also one of the best things you’ll ever do. And, just like becoming a parent requires lots of advice and support to learn the ropes, “it takes a village” to get your business off the ground.
As a startup entrepreneur, your “village” can come in many forms—from the supportive spouse or business partner to the local chamber of commerce and other small business owners you network with. However, one of the most useful people you can have in your village is a mentor. In The UPS Store survey, a whopping 82 percent of small business owners who had worked with a mentor while starting their business say the experience was helpful in getting them through the process. Among those who want to start a business, almost three-fourths (73 percent) think it would be helpful to get firsthand advice from a mentor who’s actually started a business.
Mentors can help in so many ways:
- They help you develop a plan and break it down into smaller steps so starting a business seems less overwhelming.
- They show you how to do things you need to do, like setting up an accounting system or finding a location.
- They provide motivation to keep you going (starting a business isn’t easy).
- They introduce you to others (a banker, an accountant, an attorney) who can help your business grow.
- They hold you accountable so you can’t flake out and give up on your dreams.
- Most of all, they help boost your confidence by providing a sounding board, really listening and sharing their own stories to show you “it can be done.” Often, all you really need is a shoulder to cry on (metaphorically speaking) or someone to vent to.
Mentors can help you get prepared to run a business—and preparation is critical to successfully surmounting the many challenges of startup. In The UPS Store survey, more than half of small business owners say they were more prepared than they originally thought to start a business. So perhaps, like those business owners, you’re selling yourself short. But if you still feel like you need more preparation to launch, reach out to a mentor and get some support.