How to stop being a wantrepreneur

Kate Jones

Major roadblocks face every wannabe entrepreneur dreaming of setting up their own business. Whether or not you’ll find the cash to get started, or whether you’ll make enough money for a decent income – are all huge question marks that overshadow the will to bite the bullet. What’s more, the fear of failure and what it could mean for self-confidence and future career prospects can sometimes be the deal breaker alone.

Melbourne lawyer, Tim McDonald, had all these unknowns running through his head when he decided to take a great leap of faith and open his Mexican restaurant, Fonda, five years ago.

“I was absolutely crapping my daks about starting my own business and what would happen if it didn’t work,” he said.

"I was putting all the time and money that I’d put into my career on the line."

“I was putting all the time and money that I’d put into my career on the line. There was my parents who had put a lot into my education and you wonder how the family would cope if it didn’t work out.”

McDonald left his job at leading law firm MinterEllison to launch Fonda with co-founder David Youl. Youl, a firefighter, and McDonald had no hospitality experience and no links to Mexican street food, but today Fonda has expanded to a total of five restaurants in Melbourne.

Getting over the fear of making it on your own is difficult, but McDonald says he got started by reading as much about entrepreneurism as possible.

“Start with Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – I know it’s a cliche, but it really clearly and succinctly breaks down ways being an employer or investor makes sense,” he says.

“For psychological preparation, getting exposed to articles and books really helps.”

McDonald recommends finding mentors who will help through each step of the start-up process and be there when the going gets tough.

“If I knew what I know now, I would have jumped in earlier.”

Entrepreneur Manu Dupont harboured dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and a stint at group buying startup Groupon gave him a taste of start-up life he couldn’t forget. He ditched his job at global management consultants McKinsey and started online supermarket ShopWings.

Dupont says if he had his time over again, he would have spent less time longing to be an entrepreneur and started his own business earlier.

“There’s a misconception to wait longer to gain more experience to apply to your company, but as you do that you gather more commitments and get used to the way of life on a salary,” he says.

“If I knew what I know now, I would have jumped in earlier.”

Kate Jones

Kate Jones writes for the business and money sections of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She also writes for The New Daily, TAC, RMIT and is a news writing tutor at Monash University.