Most humans hate change. We like our safe little routines, constructed of safe activities with predictable outcomes. We don't like to face the unknown, and that includes putting ourselves out there for bigger opportunities that we have never had before.
We are really good at imagining crazy outcomes, too. We can convince ourselves to stay in the Safe Zone and never risk being uncomfortable. Because being uncomfortable…is uncomfortable.
But what if comfortable starts to feel stagnant? What if you have a desire to do something different?
I’ve seen (and used) plenty of excuses for not playing bigger in business. There are really only two reasons for pursuing or not pursuing something big:
Either you want to do it, or
You don’t want to do it.
Okay, three reasons: You don’t want to do it right now.
It’s really that simple. When you can view each opportunity in this way, you will become better at realizing which obstacles are real (and conquerable) and which obstacles are completely fabricated by you.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you are making excuses, I’ve made a list of some of the most common excuses I see (and a few I have used myself), and why they are not strong enough reasons for not going for it.
I've also created a worksheet! Read through the post to get the details for accessing it.
1. You don't make the first move on big opportunities because you don't think you have enough experience (or you are waiting for the opportunities to find you).
This might be a spoiler for the entire post, but you will never really be ready to take the next step. Yes, it is scary to reach out and make that first move.
What if you get rejected? Or even worse, ignored?
Here's my philosophy: even if you aren't ready or entirely prepared for whatever unknown outcome exists, the sooner you can get your work and name in front of more people, the better.
Because even if you are totally unqualified for whatever opportunity you are reaching out for, the person you want to connect with now knows your name. And the next time you reach out, you will be familiar. And the next time you touch base, you will be even more familiar. And so on.
I have had several opportunities arise from simply being persistent (not annoying, hopefully, but persistent). Every time I reached back out for the same opportunity, my work had improved.
The ONE thing I have noticed about the most successful business owners is this: they make the first move on many of the opportunities that come their way. Ever wonder how those celebrities' kids wind up wearing a certain brand's clothing? The brand sends it to them. For free! Because they know how awesome it would be to have their products shared on a celebrity's social media feed.
If you want to land big opportunities, you gotta show up where those opportunities happen and make yourself known to the people that can help you reach them.
2. You don't put your work into the world for fear of being copied (or because someone else is already doing it).
This one? Is entirely possible. But you can’t control other people.
Are you really going to let the fear of some limited-imagination copycat keep you from producing and sharing your gifts with the world? I really hope not.
It’s also important to remember that there is enough room for all of us and all of our talents. You aren’t likely reinventing the wheel with your new idea (and neither is the other person out there who is doing it). You have to focus on what you bring to the table, even if it is similar to what someone else is doing. A lot of advice on the internet suggests that you have to figure out what makes your offering more special. I don’t totally agree with that—it’s not about being better than all the rest (although that would be nice, huh?). The key is to focus on doing what you love and what you are really good at.
When you are doing what you love and doing it really, really well, you are on the right track. Competition and being a super special snowflake become irrelevant. Copycats become irrelevant.
3. You won’t start because you're afraid you will have too much business too soon and won't be able to handle it.
This one is my favorite. You guys. This rarely happens.
Unplanned, sustained, crazy overnight success is so rare, yet so many people believe in it! I’m not saying it is impossible, but let’s just pump the brakes.
First of all, you are in control here. You don’t have to accept work that you don’t want to do. Secondly, if you get so lucky to experience overnight, insane success? You will figure it out. You will have to. You will probably be really stressed and you will be forced to quickly make decisions and put out fires as they flare up.
If you can’t handle it? Well, then, lesson learned! Be thankful you had the opportunity to figure that one out! You assess the situation—what worked and what didn’t—and keep moving right along.
There will be times that you will experience surges of business, but this is a good thing! Embrace it and learn from it!
4. You don’t want to start until you have money to invest in a beautiful website/expensive equipment/other expensive business tools that the pros use.
My absolute favorite mantra of all time:
“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."
I agree with investing in great resources, tools, and equipment for your business. But you don’t need everything in place to get started. It’s also important to stay lean, especially in the beginning. You are testing things out, seeing what products are viable.
Websites are a really big deal, essential for your business if you ask me. They are also insanely easy and cheap (!) to create these days. When I started my business, I obsessed over having a beautiful custom website design to the point that I wasn’t creating work or developing products for my actual business. Then I realized how easy it was to download a (free!) website template and create a gorgeous site for nearly zero investment.
I also started sewing my products on a small starter sewing machine that I bought at Walmart. It was work to make that thing work at times, but it got me started. And after a particularly large wholesale order that killed my machine, I invested in a much nicer one.
You just have to start. Do as much as you possibly can with the resources available to you right now. Stop using your lack of money or supplies as an excuse for not moving forward with your business. If you want this bad enough, you will figure it out.
5. You think you don’t have time for your dreams because you have children or a full time job or some other huge commitment.
Let me preface this by saying that I do not have children. So I am not here to lecture you on navigating the challenges of finding time for all the things you want to do while also spending time with your family.
But I will say this: having children or a large family does not exempt you from having big dreams for your life (and theirs). It doesn’t get you off the hook for pursuing things that are important to you, or that would make you feel like the very best version of yourself.
I used to think that I didn’t have time to create art consistently because I worked full time. But it dawned on me that I was using all my free time to do things like watch bad T.V. or sleep all day on the weekends. I was just so tired…and totally bored.
Once I had a taste of the things that I really wanted to be doing and saw the potential for them to support me, it became a priority. Because it was about more than just doing what I wanted to do. It was about providing a life for myself and my small family that meant something to me. It was about being happy every day. Once that desire took hold, everything I did from that moment forward was to support that dream.
I know it is possible to do big things even when you have big responsibilities. I have done it. I have seen other people do it with way more on their plate than myself. You can do it, too.
Do any of these excuses sound familiar? I've created a worksheet that walks you through an exercise to uncover the excuses and determine whether or not you actually want to go after certain goals. It will also help you come up with a plan for taking action! Download it here (join the email list to get the password).