The best time to start a business

Is now.

We can’t go back and do something in the past, so it’s always now.

There’s an old adage that goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Businesses are a bit like trees.

When we think about starting a business, we might fall think about business in terms of what businesses have been for 20, 50, 100 years.

We think of the paperwork involved, or the capital required for office supplies, equipment, skills, marketing, etc. etc. etc.

All that is important, but equally, business in 2020 and beyond will be a bit different.

Yuval Noah Harari has written two excellent books on the future of humanity. Both were published before the pandemic changed so many things, but they’re more relevant now, not less.

In Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, he writes:

Most of what people learn in school or in college will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40 or 50. If they want to continue to have a job, and to understand the world, and be relevant to what is happening, people will have to reinvent themselves again and again, and faster and faster.

In 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, he writes:

To survive and flourish … you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and learn to feel at home with the unknown. Unfortunately, teaching kids to embrace the unknown while maintaining their mental balance is far more difficult than teaching them an equation in physics or the causes of the First World War. You cannot learn resilience by reading a book or listening to a lecture. Teachers themselves usually lack the mental flexibility that the twenty-first century demands, since they themselves are the product of the old educational system.

Starting a business is an exercise in resilience and adaptability and optimism.

For the last century, job security was about having one steady job.

For the next century, job security will be about having a number of unsteady jobs.

The best unsteady job to have is your own little business.

Multi-billion-dollar unicorns receive disproportionate attention.

But the business that pays you a living wage, and perhaps in time can support one or two or five other people, is no less important a business.

The best time to start a business is now.

If you’ve been thinking about it, do it.