Overcoming Insecurities As an Early Startup Owner
By Nate Vickery, marketing consultant and an online author mostly focused on digital marketing trends and practices for startups and SMBs
It probably began with an unprecedented burst of neurons in your brain. You may have been showering when this happened. Or getting ready to sleep. Or playing your favorite sport.
In any case, your synapses exploded like never before and you knew you had a one in a million idea right there, bouncing around within your skull.
You decided not to let it slip away and you immediately started working on it. In a few weeks, you had a business plan. In a few months, you managed to scrounge up some financing that will last you at least some time. Perhaps you even hired a few people to help you or decided to take on a partner or two.
In any case, your startup began to take form and you started working on your paradigm-shifting idea.
…Things Begin to Go Wrong
Even though people warn new startup owners and those who are marching into the startup arena wide-eyed and almost stupidly optimistic, many new startup owners still feel taken aback by the sheer number and magnitude of problems that rear their ugly heads.
Before long, you start feeling like plugging one hole only to see another leak spring open. A seemingly insignificant coding problem turns out to be this huge oversight that destroys months of hard work. A crucial early investor pulls out and you have about 6 hours to find more money elsewhere or you will need to close shop in matter of weeks. Your cousin, the accountant, forgot to send in crucial papers.
Perhaps, you encounter problems that are much more wide-reaching? Perhaps you have not done your market research the right way and it turns out that there are not as many people out there who will be interested in paying as much as you thought they would for your product or service? Perhaps the big player you intended to disrupt has too firm a grasp on the customers?
It all becomes a bit too much, really. And this happens far more often than people would expect.
The Rise of Self-Doubt
In such situations, the most natural and expected reaction for the vast majority of people is to start doubting themselves. More than that, many a startup owner feels like they have failed themselves and their colleagues, even their families.
All of this can have a devastating effect on a startup owner.
Very often, meeting these difficulties early on can make an early startup owner feel like they are not equipped to deal with all the realities of running a startup and that there is nothing they can do to stop this seeming decline of their company.
Maybe you yourself are also feeling this way?
Running a startup is much more difficult than running your average small business. With an average small business, there are paths that have been trail-blazed decades ago and that are known to work. Owners of the more traditional small businesses know exactly which moves to make to survive and get their businesses thriving.
For startup owners, there are far more unknowns. The vast majority of startup owners experience problems that grow into self-doubt. It is natural.
Understanding that this is natural is the first step. The first of many.
The first thing to do is to identify the root causes of the various problems you are experiencing as a startup owner. Was your business model lacking? Are you making too many human errors in day-to-day functioning? Are you experiencing problems that have to do with the non-essential parts of your operation? Are you simply on the receiving end of a bad streak?
In most of these cases, you probably did everything you could to avoid such problems. You did not make mistakes because you are stupid or careless. You made them because you are inexperienced. In case of force majeure problems, there was really nothing you could do.
The next thing is to come up with small, practical steps towards solving these problems. For instance, if your problem was that your people were being late all the time, consider using a visual schedule builder. If your problems are more finance-related, consider hiring a consultant or a full-time accountant. If you are having troubles attracting new clients, start thinking about putting more money into marketing. If an investor left you, start looking for alternative financing methods.
There are always steps that you can make.
By making those steps and moving closer to the solution of your problem, all and any self-doubt and insecurity will be gone.
One day, you will look back at it and laugh.