The best time to start a business is always right now.
“Timing is everything!” we often hear people say. And the implication is that if you don’t time it just right, you will fail. But more often than not, timing is less important than we think it is.
When I started my second company, it was right as the Great Recession started. Some would say that’s a terrible time to start a business, and there were moments where I would have wholeheartedly agreed with you (like right about the time my bank account was hovering around zero).
But from the vantage point of hindsight, I can confidently say that my timing was incredible. I was just starting a web design and development company; my pricing was cheaper than industry standards, and that was a good thing during a recession. Companies weren’t hiring web developers, but still had websites that needed work. That helped my business. Small businesses like mine could fill the gap.
And you could look at all of that and say, “Wow, your timing was perfect!” but, really, at the time, I was clueless. I had no idea what I was doing, timing included. Most people advised me not to start a business at that time. Some even laughed at me when I did. And my point isn’t to say that I’m some contrarian genius. I wasn’t. I was lucky. But my point is that I got to work as soon as I could even though I had no idea if the timing was right or not.
I’m not saying timing isn’t a factor. It is. But we can make it too important. And the biggest issue is that timing can become an obstacle to us actually doing anything to start a business. It causes us to doubt and wait.
There is always doubt about when you should start a business. But the fact is that we can never achieve perfection in business (or life), which includes timing. It’s impossible to know when best to begin. So there is no point in trying to time something perfectly. Don’t spend your energy there.
Focus on starting.
That doesn’t mean you should quit your job and drop your health insurance and spend your savings making the dream of becoming your own boss happen right now. Starting can mean a lot of things, but the biggest of them is to do small practical actions to help get a paying customer. That’s it. Don’t go big. Go small. Take little steps forward.
If you’re going to start a plumbing business, you can start taking side jobs on the weekends, helping your friends and family and neighbors. Don’t take on some huge project (unless you think it’s the right fit); just do little ones. But make the goal to make people happy, solve their problem, improve their lives by making their plumbing problems go away. Do that for weeks or months until you have enough customers and revenue to quit your job.
If you want to sell things online, but have no idea how to start, google up what you need to do to start an online store. There is plenty of content that is helpful. Read it. Sift through the garbage and keep the gold. And then take that golden knowledge and put it to work. Try some of the ideas you learned. Launch that e-commerce website, which can be put together very easily through Shopify, Squarespace, etc. And run little experiments on what you can sell and see what works and what doesn’t until you see sales start going up.
There are more types of businesses that make money than you would think. It’s shocking. Every day I seem to hear about a new industry or a new way to create value or make money. All you need to do is choose one and take teensy steps forward and start going.
Start working. Begin. Go. Do. All business is the business of doing. You need to be enterprising to build an enterprise.
Whether diving deep into a recession or bouncing on top of an economic bubble, you need to start. Google, PayPal, Priceline all started in the late 90’s right as the tech bubble was really ramping up. The timing could be seen as terrible or great. That isn’t the point. They started and survived and are some of the greatest companies in the world because they started no matter the timing.
Sometimes I wonder if timing is made into such an important issue because we want to have the feeling of control. By trying to find that perfect moment, there is a sense that we are the masters of our success. But when you are doing something entrepreneurial, there will always be factors you can’t control. The biggest one of those is outcomes. You can’t guarantee success. It’s impossible. To succeed, you need to enter into uncertainty, take risks. You need to let go of the idea that we can control success if we only just timed our business just right—because we can’t.
What we can do is take one step forward at a time. It’s the hardest thing, but it’s also the best. Even when the future looks hazy, get going, confront your fears, and extend your foot and go. Keep on doing that until you succeed.
You see, timing isn’t everything; taking action is.
And you can. You should.
It’s a perfect time.