It’s Possible That You Will Fail In Your New Business
I have a friend that has wanted to start her own small business for, well, years.
She has a pretty good idea of what she wants to do. She has researched and researched and researched all her “competitors.” She mapped out all the steps she needs to take. She has even taken some of them. Stop and start. Stop and start.
Currently, she’s at a stop.
She reached a point in creating her business where she has to tackle something new. Something she has never done before. It’s not even about asking for money or talking to possible customers. It’s about creating the infrastructure behind the business. And she has no idea what she’s doing.
She is terrified.
I was chatting with her recently, waiting for our kids to come out of their classrooms at the end of the school day. She was frustrated with the situation, and frustrated with herself. Those negative feelings were enough to make her want to walk away, at least for the time being.
I can distill her fears down into three dominant thoughts:
What if I don’t do it perfectly?
What if not everyone loves my idea?
What if I fail?
I have worked with a lot of startup companies and early stage entrepreneurs. Almost all founders have some version of these thoughts circling through their head. And my quick response is this: they’re all going to come true.
You won’t do it perfectly. Not everyone will love your idea. And there will be times when you fail.
Yes, all these things can be true at different points in time. But with the right mindset, you can also understand that each thing can be overcome. That none of these thoughts are permanent, or even deal breakers for your business. But you have to reframe the thoughts. One by one.
This is the belief that you need to have all the answers in advance. One of the joys and terrors of starting a new business is that you don’t know what you’re doing. And sometimes, you don’t even know what you don’t know.
Many of us struggle to move that new idea forward because we want each step in the path to be perfect. We weigh each decision with agonizing detail. Do I want a light blue logo or a dark blue logo? Should my website be .com or .co? We fear that each decision could lead to a misstep from which our business will never recover.
It is important to have some strategy and intention behind every decision. But in the end, perfect does not exist. It’s an idea that we’ve made up in our heads. Because what feels like sub-par work to one person is a home run for someone else.
Not to mention, no one is judging the details of your work as much as you think they are. They are too busy thinking about themselves and their own business. And their own fears.
So, I can’t emphasize enough that you won’t do it perfectly. But if you let go of this idea and allow yourself to move forward, you could end up with something that isn’t perfect but is pretty great.
This is the belief that you need universal acceptance of your ideas. There are two things going on with this fear. First, a lack of confidence in yourself. And second, the misguided belief that everyone needs to love it. I thought about this a lot when I first started writing. I was terrified that I would put something out there and it would get lambasted.
What actually happened is this: most people ignored it, but a few people connected with it. So the reframe for me was to stop focusing on the billions of people who never read or ignored my writing. And focus on the handful of people who enjoyed it. We don’t have to change the world. Few businesses do. We only have to connect with a few people. And that, at least, is a place to start.
In fact, that’s how all businesses start. A few people connect with the idea. There is almost nothing in the world that all people love. Even chocolate, if you can believe it.
There will always be someone who does not value the same things that you do. It doesn’t mean they are right. It means they are different. If they have constructive criticism, great. Take it. If they don’t like chocolate, wish them well and remove them from your thoughts. Keep you mind focused on how you can move your business forward with the people who do connect with it.
Because other people don’t have to believe something for it to be true.
This is a big one, especially because it is so vague that it can be terrifying.
What does it mean to fail?
I think the ultimate catastrophe for an entrepreneur is that they start a business and then it closes.
But why focus on the end before you even begin?
Predicting that kind of failure from the start is a kind of extreme fortune telling. There are so many steps along the way, how could you know how things will turn out?
Then there are the smaller failures along the way. Product launches that flop. People you hire that turn out not to be a fit for your company.
Sure, those things might not work out. And you could beat yourself up when that happens. You could remind yourself of everything that went wrong. Of everything that you did wrong.
Or you could remember that those kids of failures happen to literally everyone. Even the greatest entrepreneurs of all time experienced failure. And the smartest and the best people learn from those mistakes. They aren’t afraid to dissect what went wrong and use it to make something even better.
In some of their words:
And one of my favorite quotes about failure from J.K. Rowling. Her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it became an incredible success:
No one will judge you as harshly for your perceived failures as yourself. That’s what my friend is doing so, right now. Before anyone has ever seen a single thing from the business she is trying to create.
Her fear of failing is keeping her from beginning. And from learning. And ultimately, from finding amazing success.
Because nothing goes perfectly. And we all stumble and fall. But it’s not about focusing on the bumps. It’s about learning from them. And creating something that fills you with pride and joy and satisfaction. Warts and all.
It’s Possible That You Will Fail In Your New Business
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