Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist’s Ae11615.
While everyone has day-dreamt about starting their own business and seeing their “innovative” ideas fly triumphant at one time or another, only a few assiduous ones make it happen.
According to a research, a staggering two-third of American adults have thought at least once about starting their own business, but only one third have actually ventured forward to take the plunge!
Why? The main factor holding them back is the barrage of irrational fears and trepidations making them bite their nails in apprehension every time they even think about taking a leap of faith. Even if you are an avid advocate of challenge and change, making the decision to abandon your comfort zone and start out on your own can be downright terrifying. The uncertainty of a start-up and the fear of failure is the biggest barrier to pursuing your ideas and aspirations. If you feel the boogiemans closing up on you, here are the talismans to ward them off and conquer your start-up fears:
If you feel the tendrils of fear clawing up your neck, use this exercise to ignore their existence. Sit down and create a vision of what you want to achieve and where you want to see yourself, and write it down. Ask yourself questions such as "What type of clients do I want to serve?" and "What sort of office space do I see myself working in?" After all, how can you work towards success if you don’t know what it looks like? Visualizing success is sometimes all the push that you need to shatter the glass ceiling.
The brainchild of Andy Clarke and his girlfriend Amarachi Uzowuru, Lucocoa Chocolate (@LucocoaChoc ) was born out of a need to craft “healthy chocolates” that you can binge on without the mouthful after pangs of remorse. The duo were stirred to launch their own business despite holding down full time jobs. The determination and commitment of the couple paid off and the future is looking bright for the brand. According to the couple, you should not be afraid of failure and prepared to take risks when starting your own business. You have to risk failing and put yourselves out there, so that you give yourself a chance at success. If you don’t try, you will never know!
Knowledge is power, the only kind of power most of us are ever likely to glean, so educate yourself. Attend seminars and take classes to get drilled in practical skills which can help you start, grow, and market your business. In fact, an overwhelming amount of resources are available for entrepreneurs who are just starting out; from family and friend mentorship, social media, textbooks, online offerings, and training programs. The more knowledge you glean about your venture and industry, the less scared and helpless you will feel.
Alyssa Smith, the owner of Alyssa Smith Jewelry (@AlyssaJewellery), designs handmade, luxury jewelry, specializing in ‘ready to wear’ collections. She launched her business an year after graduating from the University of Hertfordshire, with a major in Applied Arts and Marketing. Starting straight out of university in debt and with next to no knowledge about the ins and outs of jewelry design, she spent one year researching the jewelry industry, working in a jewelry shop, and teaching herself all she needed to know about the industry and business using books and online resources.
It may have been fun and simple when you came up with the business idea, but the plethora of diverse hats you are expected to wear as a startup owner may cause confusion and internal conflict. However, it’s all a normal part of starting your own business. The key to getting over the muddle is to accept it and seek out a business mentor, family member, or a friend to help solve the problem and be your sounding board.
The young entrepreneur, Martin Harrison (@Copify_Martin), is the owner of Copify (@Copify), a self-service copywriting agency in UK. He set up his own business so that he had the freedom to do what he loved the most, and not get hamstrung by office politics and micromanagement. His biggest challenge was to find enough time to get things done in the first two years. He overcame that challenge by adopting bootstrapping, forcing himself to focus on things which were most important, and leaving off things that were not.
We are our biggest critiques. Even before testing the waters, we put up mental barriers and assume that nothing we do can help us charter the choppy seas. The only way to eliminate this “I Can’t” attitude is to comprehend why and when you say it. Every time you are plagued with this thought, quickly change it to, “But if I was going to, how would I do it?” Not only will this eradicate a negative thought, but also fill you with a motivation to solve the problems that you are encountering.
Brendan Synnott and Kelly Flatley, the founders of Bear Naked Granola (@BearNaked), carved a niche in the health industry by coming out with their scrumptious, all natural granola bars. Fresh out of college, this young duo sacrificed their post college years by staying up throughout the nights and bunking in with their parents to make their granola bars. Their efforts bore fruit when their startup was acquired by Kellogg for $60 Million.
Several studies have concluded that entrepreneurs who develop a habit of putting down their goals in writing are 5 times more likely to see them bear fruit. When would you like to leave your job and start your business? How much money would you need and how are you planning to acquire it? How far are you willing to expand?
Set goals, write them down, and work towards achieving them. Even if you feel yourself deviating from your goals, read your manifesto and remind yourself what you are aspiring for. Every time you read your goals, you will reminisce the zest and optimism you felt when writing them down. Some of the gusto would linger on and grow on you.
For most people, the biggest apprehension when starting their business was bidding adieus to the comforts and security of a traditional job; no guaranteed regular paychecks, no IT person to lean on if the systems failed to run, and no longer having a reliable team of old colleagues to run things by in the office.
However, stepping out of your comfort zone is exhilarating, albeit a bit intimidating. If you keep procrastinating, you will always find excuses for putting it off, and there will never come a “Right” time to begin. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world started out with little experience, often with little money, and in all sorts of circumstances, but still took the jump and didn’t regret it.
Nate Grahek, the founder of StickyAlbums (@stickyalbums), a great mobile app designed for professional photographers, is a living testament to the fact that any excuses for not putting your plans in to action are valid. Holding a full-time job, and a new father of one child with another one on the way, Nate built his application, left his corporate job for once and for all ,and started running his own startup!
When you decide to try new things, expect to feel resistance not just from those around you but also from within yourself. Work through adversity by acknowledging its existence, while doing what you need to do anyway. Remember the time when you felt really excited about something, only to be gripped with fear and resistance when putting it to action. It’s a common feeling. Remember to imbue yourself with ample self-confidence and can-do attitude, if you want to escape the drag of resistance.
This 2006 Will Smith vehicle, based off the true story of Chris Gardner, is one of the most motivational and heartwarming films for bourgeoning entrepreneurs. You are bound to be moved by the struggles Chris and his son went through to follow their dream. Even though Chris became homeless, lost his job and everything he had, and struggled to provide for his son, he never gave up on his dream. Every entrepreneur should be prepared to embrace this level of sacrifice and passion for what they want.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of starting your business, its natural. Between trying to juggle a plethora of tasks that need to be completed and learnt, and trying to find a balance between your home life and an unprecedentedly crushing amount of work load, you are likely to feel dazed.
Tiffany Gordon-Wilson (@sojustimagine), owner of My Barefoot Life, started her first business 3 months after her second son was born, and the 2-week old had to accompany his mommy to her first business meeting. Being able to successfully manager all her accounts, and other networking and paperwork follow-up, while simultaneously taking care of her two infants had overwhelmed Tiffany Gordon-Wilson, until she realized she was her own boss!
Next time you feel overwhelmed, pen down whichever feeling, thought, or situation led you to it. After a while, you will see the patterns developing. Once you know your triggers, whether it’s seeking education, hiring a consultant or accountant, or creating a new process, you can take actions to avert them from occurring.
Nicola Ballotta, the owner of WpXtreme (@wpxtreme) says that the biggest challenge he faced was managing the workload abd the fear of leaving things done. As a solo founder, he found that taking on and executing a plethora of responsibilities pertaining to the business, can be biting more than one can chew. He broke up each aspect of his business into distinctive roles that can be delegated to interns to overcome the workload dilemma.
Next time you are stuck waiting in a line or a traffic jam, practice patience. For many start up owners, the initial excitement and keenness soon transforms in to frustration and exasperation when things don’t progress at a pace they expected. They allow fear to clasp around their chests, fear that if things didn’t moved as they anticipated, their business boat is doomed to sink. Practice patience with non-business tasks, and exercise that patience in your entrepreneurial ventures as well.
Josh Doody, the owner of TaskBook (@Task_Book), says that the biggest challenge he faced was getting out of a preconceived set of notions that lead him to believe that building his own business would lead to quick and lucrative results. However, as he later discovered, building and marketing a viable and value added software takes energy, time, and jugs of caffeine. They patiently worked in solitude for months on end before people got wind of their software. But once they did, it paid well!
Nobody, and nobody in the world, knows you as well as you know yourself. For some people, Entrepreneurship can be too scary to even contemplate, and so they will rub off their fear on you. People may tell you your idea can never work or you are making a huge mistake by giving up a good job, but you have to trust your intuition and take action when you need to. When you act on your instincts often, you learn to trust them. The next time you hear yourself saying something along the lines of "That’s a stupid idea”, remind yourself that you want to accept yourself as you kick start your new business.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink, “There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”
Performing standup comedy at night and working as a sales trainer during the day, Sara Blakely (@sarablakely), the founder of Spanx (@SPANX) had absolutely no insight into the pantyhose industry. All she knew was that she hated wearing the store-bought panty hoses. One day when she couldn’t find a suitable one to wear under a pair of white pants, she took scissors and chopped off the feet of those hoses, hitting upon the idea of a new product. Starting with under $5,000, her startup has recently crossed the $1 billion threshold.
Oft time positive thinking alone doesn’t suffice. According to ample research, the best outcomes are stemmed from balancing positive thinking with an in-debt visualization of future struggles and obstacles you will encounter. Tipping the balance either side can become a problem so aspire not to dwell on problems alone or imbibe overconfidence in yourself.
People miss opportunities all the time when they refuse pursuing projects just because they believe they don’t possess the pertinent skills, the right product, or the right brochure to make it big. The next time you are about to turn away an opportunity, figure out what is necessary for you to accept that project. You will realize that you know enough to grab most opportunities that come your way.
Aki, the founder of MarketMuse (@MarketMuseCo) says that the biggest challenge for him was not to be so hard on himself. When he launched his startup, he found himself constantly second guessing focus, directions, and decisions, until he decided to trust himself and his judgment.