Many dream, far fewer proceed.
I assume no one wants to have regrets later in their career about things they wished they had done or started earlier. Fear is so powerful that it is often the main reason behind the I wish I statement. Good fear helps us make the right decision whereas bad fear stops us from making any. We often fear failure, disappointment and debt. Here are 3 of my most powerful personal strategies for overcoming startup fears, in the following order.
In thinking about the consequence of an uncertain activity, we often evaluate the worst-case scenario. I do, but I do it differently and it makes a lot of sense. First, do you know how much it takes to build a growth startup? A lot of work and time. Rarely do we witness entrepreneurs starting companies for the fun of it and without having short and long term business goals. The opportunity cost Is what else could you have done? Get a job. Here’s the trick, what if you knew and believed in the value the company you are building is adding to you as a professional. As a startup founder and especially at the initial stages of the venture, you hold and operate several if not all positions. You are building and enhancing new skills sometimes on a daily basis. You are creating a strong asset that, in fact, will increase your chances of getting a job in case you want to switch back or if business is not doing as well as you hoped for. The worst-case scenario is not bad after all. You’re adding personal and professional value while turning ideas into reality.
I once asked one of my tennis coaches about the reason behind his constant dissatisfaction with our work. In private he told me, “we’re hitting approximately 5000 tennis balls a day. We will get better even if we don’t want to. I ‘m just trying to push the limits.” Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways that don’t work before developing the electrical light bulb. Here’s what you should strongly believe in: whatever you do, know that just because you are doing it every day, you are making natural progress. Just with constancy and continuity, you are making progress. Also, know that with the same level of constancy and continuity, sooner or later results will follow naturally. You can speed up the process by pushing the boundaries but eventually great things will happen either way.
As Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
A startup venture can be divided into two big stages: validation and scalability.
From Initiation To Validation
This is arguably the most uncertain phase of a startup. You don’t know who your customers are; you can segment the market but still don’t know who the real buyers are. You are not certain if your solution addresses the needs of buyers, and you are not sure if your model is viable and scalable. This is not the time to be in debt or quit your job. Use non-scalable resources and some of your personal funds to initiate a venture and find product-market fit. This makes you feel at ease executing on your ideas because the only change you will make in your life is working 4 extra hours a day and weekends.
Also, keep in mind that failure is a state of mind and nothing more. Here is why. Do you remember the first time you cooked a meal? You may have nailed it the first time but you know who hasn’t? almost everyone else. Some call it a failure, “I can’t cook!” while others think about it this way: every time I cook, I am creating a version of my product (meal), I iterate and adjust my ingredients based on what I learned the previous times. Eventually, it comes out great.
The only time you will fail is when you quit. You will keep changing (iterating) your product or service until you get it right. This can take days, months or years but with constant iteration, whenever needed, there will be results.
From Validation To Scalability
How would your attitude about building a startup change if you knew that 100 customers with cash in their hands are outside the door waiting for you to come out and sell them your product or service? When you get there, you will feel even more at ease. This will greatly minimize your fears. The best-case scenario is to finance your own growth; however, it is probably the right time to get an investment or short term loans to fulfill customer orders if needed. As a side note, fundraising starts since day one. It begins by building strong relationships with potential investors so when the time comes, you’d be able to get funded faster.
You are valuable. Turning your ideas into demanded solutions will make you even more valuable. Few are those who make the transition from dreamers to doers. You’ll be one of them which will make you even more unique in the marketplace for professionals. This is if you worry about the worst-case scenario; losing a stream of income for most people. If you don’t, you’re also right, because
With constancy and continuity, results will come naturally. You may push the limists for faster outcome and that’s even better, but either way, feel at ease, goals will be achieved eventually and if they don’t,
We iterate. Quitting is failing. Iterating (‘pivoting’ for bigger business changes) is changing business direction, product features, pricing, and whatever needed for the product to meet customer needs.
From venture initiation to validation, avoid debt by using non-scalable resources and don’t quit your job if you don’t need to. Build relationships with potential investors since day one and, periodically, keep them in the loop with your progress. Business will tell you when you should take it to the next level..
What else helps you overcome fear?