The Pitfall Many New Entrepreneurs Face and How You Can Avoid It

Vaclav Volrab/

Many of us have dreamed of having our own business for years before we actually did anything about it. There are many reasons we allow ourselves to dream for years without actually taking any tangible action: it feels safe, daydreaming is fun, it's a form of escapism, or it gives us hope. But when you finally decide to take it from the dream state and bring it into the real world, the very first decision you are faced with is figuring out what exactly you want to do.

At this point, the pitfall many new entrepreneurs face is debilitating indecision which leads to procrastination. This often leads back to dreaming about starting a business someday and relegating the dream to the recesses of one's mind.

If you thought choosing from a list of jobs seemed difficult, welcome to the vast open plains of entrepreneurship. Anything is fair game. In all likelihood, you can't check off boxes in a magazine quiz to find your dream business. Neither can you throw darts at a pre-made list hoping to pick one because, let's face it, you aren't going to walk away from everything you've known to do something you don't really like.

So now you're surrounded by scraps of paper with notes about every hobby, interest, and passion you've ever had. You're scrolling through the workbook you bought hoping it will bring you closer to determining your niche. You can't get started on things like building your website, writing sales page copy, or reaching out to potential clients until you know what you want to offer. So you're stuck until inspiration strikes. At least, that's what you've been telling yourself. But what if there's another way?

As a niche strategy specialist, I know that I can help my clients identify their powerful, profitable niche. Within weeks of coaching, my clients walk away with clarity, implementing real-world strategies to run and grow a real business. But I understand that not everyone is ready for 1:1 coaching. Sometimes you aren't sure whether you want to actually invest in your own business at this point. Other times, you aren't sure about coaching because you've never tried it and new things can feel scary.

So, what can you do if you aren't ready for your own business coach? I would say the fastest way to figuring out what you want to do is to actually do it. Now I know that sounds circuitous. You're probably thinking, if I knew what to do, I'd already be doing it. But my guess is, you are multi-passionate and can think of at least 10 things you want to do. So I'm recommending that you do them all! That's right. Give yourself permission to actually pursue your dreams. I'm going to suggest ways you can do them without investing thousands of dollars to set up a business for each of them. What I'm about to recommend are things you can do within minutes of reading this post.

If you are a coach, sign up for and put up a profile listing several areas or topics you are interested in coaching people in. Within hours or a day you will start getting requests because your profile will be featured. Then get on Skype or the phone and start coaching people. If you aren't ready for that, sign up as someone who wants coaching and request to speak with other coaches to ask them about their experiences.

If you offer copywriting, marketing services, social media management, programming or have another skillset, consider signing up on Fiverr, UpWork, or other similar sites that allow you to put up a listing. Take on a few projects and figure out what aspects you enjoy and what you don't particularly like.

If you are a product entrepreneur, your journey will be a bit different but you'll still need to connect with people. So if you've invented something and want to build it into a business, figure out how to do some product testing right away while protecting your invention. Consider talking to a patent attorney or IP specialist first, then put together focus groups online or in person at a cafe or startup incubator.

Everyone goes through an initial jolt or reality-check the minute they start taking real-world action because it feels like a let-down after spending months and years daydreaming about sitting on a beach in Tahiti with your laptop. It's not that you can't get there if you dream of the laptop lifestyle. But you still need to start where you are, and if you aren't already on a beach in Tahiti and haven't booked a flight yet, you'll have to take action where you are. The other thing that can feel unnerving is the idea that you are so far from your ideal vision. But that usually goes away as soon as you start immersing yourself in building a business you enjoy running. It also helps to find a community of entrepreneurs online or in your town so can enjoy support and accountability as well as offset feelings of isolation.

Assuming that you are committed to figuring out the type of business you want to run, start determining what you want to continue pursuing. Within thirty days, you should have enough data to evaluate. Your first point of evaluation should be whether you enjoy doing the actual work (not whether you would want to continue doing that for free or five dollars). You can charge more than that but for right now, you are using these platforms to get out into the market as soon as possible without having to set up your own website, sales funnels, etc. You're walking into an existing marketplace so you can try doing the work to see if you like it.

At the end of 30 days, narrow down your list to your top three interests. If you still can't narrow things down, give yourself another month to continue trying all of the different things. Once you've narrowed things down to three areas, continue testing those out and start doing some market research; what you would ideally like to charge and how to set up and run your business (online, in person, etc.).Learn as much as you can about your area of interest.

If your business idea is something offline such as operating a mountaineering guide company, find a way to immerse yourself in that. Apply to be a volunteer guide for Appalachian Mountain Club, Sierra Club or other outdoors groups. Take courses in wilderness training. Reach out to mountaineering guiding companies and set up informational interviews with current guides and the owners to learn about the industry.

There are hundreds of creative ways to get started. There is plenty of support out there. If you want to connect with business owners in different fields, check out

The thing that keeps many of us firmly ensconced in the dream cocoon is that it is safe, warm, and cozy there. But becoming an entrepreneur requires a leap. It doesn't have to be without a parachute. Connect with others and take the first step. You might find out that the dream was never really yours but something you saw someone else have and thought you wanted. If that is the case, let it go and move on to other things. But if the first step catapults you on a journey you've always imagined, take your place in the world of entrepreneurship. Invest in yourself and your business to bring your dream into reality.

Prema Srinivasan helps entrepreneurs find their profitable niche by assisting them to identify the intersection of their passions, skills, and market demand. With an MBA and over 15 years of experience in marketing and business strategy, Prema helps her clients create powerful strategies for success.