There are three main problems that at some point plague nearly all entrepreneurs: stress along with anxiety, enlarged ego, and trust issues. Just about every entrepreneur has at some point experienced any of these. The goal is to sidestep them whenever possible. First, let's take a look at how these show up and after becoming familiar with them, we will take a look at some examples of how these play out in practice.
Anxiety, in my opinion, causes some of the most severe mistakes that can be made in business because it causes decisions to be rushed, and made prematurely. Everything you do in your business has a cost. The cost can most of the time be boiled down to either time or money. What anxiety tends to do is put pressure on people to make rush their decisions before fully thinking them through or prior to having done enough research to be able to make a good, educated decision.
If you are starting a business, it is nearly impossible not to have stress. There are many financial, family, and business-related problems that must be handled correctly. To add to those sources of stress which cause anxiety, the hard truth is that new businesses often lose a lot of money in the first or second year. And if they don't lose much money, few young businesses can be profitable enough to support the founders financially as a middle-class salary can.
In addition, there is also the issue of time. There is never enough time in a day and time goes by really fast. Bills pile up and business results are really needed. If you have investors, the stress is even worse because they always want more progress. But you can't get results out of a business that isn't quite ready to produce results quite yet. In fact it can be quite damaging to a business to rush some parts of it that are not ready.
What is needed is patience and a calm mind to make some of the better and more thought-out decisions. With all that stress that may seem quite difficult, but being conscious of the damage stress and anxiety can do if you let it affect you is the first step in the right direction.
Many people have a concern that their business idea will be stolen. Protection of your company's intellectual property is a very fair concern to have. Unfortunately, as things play out in practice, there seems to be a very slippery slope from healthy precautions to over focusing on protecting the idea and other intellectual property to the point where it begins to hurt the business.
Common legal tools to protect various parts of the business are NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements), patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
There is a place for those things, but keep in mind that everything you do has a cost in either time spent or money that is spent. For example, if you have a 20 minute meeting with someone and you spend the first five of those minutes signing the NDA, that decreases the time you can spend discussing your business. Even if your meeting is a long one, you are most fresh and alert at the beginning. So it is your choice whether you want to spend your best thinking time signing paperwork or getting to the details of your actual business. It may seem like a small thing, but if it consistently takes away from your efforts, realize that it is at the expense of other parts of the business.
Protecting a business idea is just such a unique phenomenon. If your business is successful, nearly everything about your business will be public just because you will be out there marketing your business. Many people will copy you anyway. You may have a head start but business is rarely a sprint to the finish line. It is more of a marathon and the lead companies get by being first is almost never enough. To win, you have to outdo the competition. Instead of protecting the idea, you should get all the help you can get so that you can make it into a business, and then be protective of the business by focusing on making it the best out of all the competitors you have.
In the beginning stages and throughout the lifetime of your company, it is very important to stay open-minded and humble. The more success you will have, the more important it is to make a conscious effort to stay humble because the more successful you will be, the more things there will be to stroke your ego. And we are all human, and believing how great we are can be pretty alluring.
The more people get carried away with believing how smart they are, the more they get set into a tunnel vision and a stubbornness of sorts, and are not able to listen to others as well, or adapt to situations as easily. In effect, losing humility is the first step to becoming a leader who has a hard time thinking broadly and accepting opinions of others. Also, it is a first step to becoming stubborn which, if anything, is the opposite of intelligence.
The bigger the ego is allowed to become, any contradiction or opposing opinion is going to be more difficult to accept or consider. Ego and overconfidence also makes people more sensitive, and quicker to take offense to opposing views, instead of appreciate a different opinion, making it more difficult to notice opportunity. So as fun as it is to dream of your success and all the hard work paying off, stay humble and open minded.
The idea stage is very sensitive in many ways. People often get attached to their ideas. If you consider the points made above, you may recognize patterns where people become distrustful of others with the fear that their company's intellectual property will be stolen, and offended when told that their ideas are not good.
There is a delicate balance to all this. I would like to share my approach as an example. Keep in mind that it is just my advice that comes from my own experience that I am sharing.
It is very important to accomplish these things during the idea stage:
1) Get to understand how viable this business will be before starting to implement the idea.
2) Understand the finances involved, and whether you can sell/market it to enough people at a price you will need to make the money that you want to make.
3) Decide with as deep understanding as possible whether the idea is going to be worth moving forward with.
And let me tell you, it can be a very painful and costly road to proceed forward with the wrong idea. So please, be methodical and do not rush into things too quickly. It is much cheaper that way.
I cannot tell people what to do, but when people are trying to understand whether their idea is worth implementing, I always strongly encourage people to talk to many smart people they know in the field that they want to do business in. Yes, these are the people who can steal the idea. But these are also the people who can give the best advice, feedback and share insightful knowledge of what would make such a business work.
If eventually all signs point in a positive direction, it is more likely that the idea may be worth a try. Once you decide that you want to begin implementing the idea, try to test it out in small and inexpensive ways as a next step. There is much more on this part in the other sections of the app so I won't go too deeply into it here.
Along the way, as you try to get a sense of whether your idea is worth pursuing, you will get all sorts of opinions. There are some types of negative feedback to note and make distinctions:
1) There will be some people who will be cynical and condescending about your venture. As an entrepreneur, you and the project that you are creating are vulnerable to criticism just like any artist who creates anything. Critics are everywhere and they can be quite discouraging, and at times hurtful. Just understand that a small degree of such feedback is normal. Who knows, maybe those people are just having a bad day and their criticism has more to do with them than with your project. Any idea can be shot down. But on the opposite hand, almost anything can be made into a business as well if it is done very correctly and executed well. So stay positive.
2) There will also be people who would want the best for you, but maybe phrase things in a way that might be hurtful. For example, many people might try to talk you out of your venture and you may take it as they do not believe in what you are doing. But in reality, they probably just worry for you.
3) Then there is the negative professional feedback, and negative feedback from people who would potentially be your target market. This is quite worth listening to. Don't get mad at them or take offense. There is always a tendency to brush things off by thinking the person does not know what they are talking about, or maybe they do not want the best for you. But while trying to keep a positive attitude through the negative feedback you get, be sensitive and open to hearing ideas that do not coincide with yours.
In conclusion, stay humble, positive, work hard and be creative. Do not rush into things, and plan methodically or otherwise things you did not account for may become problems down the road. Having said that, do not wait too long. Go out there, work hard, and make your business a success. Best of luck! And for a bit of motivation and wisdom, take a look at our business quotes page. It is sure to get you motivated and make you feel ready to create a great business.
Article by Alex Genadinik