BD13: Fear of Failure & Business
Welcome to Breakdown 13. Today we tackle fear of failure and running your own bidness.
BD is where I teach a coach's secret secret sauce: how to dissect a person's problem so you can give them the solution. Think of it a little bit like making an ice cream cake - I don't just show you the final cake but the recipe and mechanism that got me there. If you can learn this skill then you can start coaching yourself through your challenges and put me firmly out of business.
If you'd like to have a problem of yours BD'd please feel free to just hit reply and let me know (I've currently got 11 in the chamber so no rush.)
BD posts can get quite (very) long. Today's one is about medium long because I get a bit ranty about running a business a.k.a bidness.
Estimated full reading time: 12 minutes.
Estimated impact: For potential or actual business owners: high. For everyone else: medium.
For the oldies/those with the bad eyes
A few problems I'm struggling with at the moment are:
The feeling that unless something is perfect it shouldn't be released to the market (even though it's 95% there, and could always be improved). This is slowing everything down.
Procrastinating priorities. I've got some big ticket items that need to be completed so as I can move forward in business. But when I sit down for work, I let myself get distracted by smaller side-bar type things which will not progress me at all.
I don't expect you to write about this, but I wanted to give you a show of support that someone is listening and appreciates your writing.
Hello everyone, and welcome to this week's breakdown!
First things first – I am going to take a leap of faith in this week's breakdown. I’m pretty confident that these two problems are actually interlinked but there is a small possibility that these are actually two distinct problems. Nothing like a soft supple hedge to start a post.
The commonality in both of these problems is that our BD understands what they ‘should be’ doing. This isn’t an email based around getting the product to market, but why they are NOT getting the product to market. They know what the next steps are, yet they're still not doing them and not allowing themselves to progress in the business.
I’ll keep typing this sentence until I die, but remember that the only reason we're ever not doing something is because we have leverage not to do it, and that leverage is ALMOST always fear.
So our question for BD is simply: "Why does progressing in the business terrify me?"
There’s usually three different kinds of fear that would create that leverage and we will go over all of them towards the end of this post. Before we do that we’re going to briefly talk about business for those of you running or thinking of running your own shop.
I'm not a business guru nor am I anything close to a business guru. I just help people party. That said, I do meet a hell of a lot of business owners and have noticed that many of the decision errors that you'll see someone make when they're thinking about their life show up time and time again in someone's business.
As someone who runs a successful business, I'm stunned at how often I get lectured by people who don't run businesses at all about how I should run my business. I'm even more stunned by the people who are running an unprofitable, unsuccessful business, who, when I hear them get business advice from someone running a successful business, they lecture that person! "No, I don't think that's how it works. No, I don't think that's how it should be, and no, I don't think that applies in my business."
There's some funny and rouge quirk that triggers in people’s minds when they think about business. They think it's in this magical realm of life where there are no laws and nothing you need to learn and you can just tell the world how it’s going to be and that will be how it is. They try and dictate to the market and to the world rather than seeing reality how it is.
In every part of life, there are certain laws or principles which govern your success.
Physics is a fantastic example. If you are trying to build a rocket ship, and you violate certain principles in physics, your rocket ship is not going to get off the ground. Doesn’t matter how much you lecture someone on physics or think that you know what you’re doing and ignore high quality advice, if break the laws you shits getting burned.
There are certain laws in health as well. If you're trying to lose weight or if you're trying to put muscle on and you violate certain laws of health, it's not going to work, no matter how much effort you put in or how much you complain to your friends that ‘exercise just isn’t for me.’ Break the laws and you’ll stay where you are.
In relationships, there are certain laws that if you violate them, no matter how much effort you put into it, your relationship is never going to get where you want to go. You can complain about your partner as much as you want, even pray that something better will happen – but as long as your actions keep violating the LAWS nothing will change.
You'd think it would be absurd if someone told you that they think gravity is overrated and so they are going to learn how to fly by jumping off a building. You would think that person is insane because the law that they are breaking is so obvious. You know that no matter what they say or how passionate they are about their idea, that person is going to be BREAKING LAWS and will pay the consequences.
You can tell that person is insane, yet we are surrounded by people who break laws in every areas of their life and are stunned that it’s not working! We all sit there are act like it’s totally normal that it happened that way and indulge their complaining instead of addressing the absurdity of that moment.
Most people think that it’s something unique about THEIR situation which means it’s not working. Like they have some universal significance and god has reached down and undone their plans just for the fuck of it. It's not working because you're violating a law. The end.
If your health is not where you want it to be, if your relationship is not where you want it to be, if your income is not where you want it to be… if any aspect of your life is not where you want it to be, it's because you're violating a law whether you know it or not.
Business is exactly the same.
You don't get to walk into a business and decide what the laws are. That would be like walking into physics and deciding that you don't want to have the electromagnetic spectrum. It doesn't work like that.
Many of the laws of business, like every other aspect of life, are timeless.
Some of them change as your business grows through different stages. Others stay the same irrespective of what business you are in and the time you put into it. Some laws are not actually laws and just accepted practice (meaning if you can break them you might make a LOT of $$) but they are much harder to find and need to be approached very carefully.
There's two laws that I think would be really helpful for BD to understand in this section. These are things I’m seeing a lot of business owners do and something I did in the first 6 months of my business before I realised they were laws. The first is the law of strangers' feedback aka the law of not doing dumb shit, and the second is the law of moving through rejection.
The law of strangers' feedback or the law of not doing dumb shit, dictates (I use the word "dictates" for a reason there), that the ideas that you have in your business around are almost certainly wrong. Not because there's anything unique about you, but because it's so hard to come up with a high-quality idea until you start getting feedback.
Unfortunately, it’s INCREDIBLY unlikely that the feedback of your friends and family actually counts. They are too close to you, and they're not going to give you the feedback that you need.
Until you go and start getting complete strangers, not friends of friends, not friends of family, but truly complete strangers to start giving you feedback on your product the feedback that you're getting from people isn't going to be what gets you to where you need to go.
Remember – it’s almost certain that your idea is going to be mostly wrong. You need feedback to figure out where it’s wrong as fast as possible to see if you can make it right enough that people will pay for the idea. Strangers won’t be so invested in your relationship that the will hold back and not tell you how it is or where your idea blows.
A massive amount of people fail in the face in business because they violate this law. They spend six months designing, building, and implementing a product, and then they go to sell it to market, and no one wants to buy it, because they've been doing dumb shit. They've been wasting time designing websites, designing packaging, designing logos, when none of it matters (at this stage of bidness.)
All their friends and family tell them it’s an amazing idea, they get really excited and drop 20k on shit that doesn’t matter because they haven’t tested to see if the market actually WANTS their idea and then they get punched in the face by the market, get confused why no one is buying their product and say ‘oh well, business isn’t for me.’
I’ve met 'business owners' who have been working in business for 6 months not making profit and have NEVER SPOKEN TO THEIR FUCKING CUSTOMERS. It’s so absurd.
The only thing that matters in this initial stage is whether people are people going to buy your product or not. They're not going to buy the fact that your website's designed nicely. They're not going to buy the fact that you have the best business name or the best logo or the fanciest email signature.
They're going to buy your product, and unless you can understand the market and how they like your product, you're not going to be able to do things, so the first thing that I would say to our BD is, "Why are you looking to be perfect in something which is almost certainly going to be wrong?"
Now, once you know that strangers want to buy your product and you have people either giving you money or hounding you for orders (and NOT before this happens) then you start building out the rest as you go: a logo, a small website, whatever the MINIMUM is to get started. All of these extra pieces are built as needed to maximise the minimisation of risk to your wallet.
Remember – most of your ideas are wrong… just like every human on the planet. It’s just that in most areas of life there are no real consequences of the wrong idea. In business there are big and very obnoxious consequences: you go out of business and you lose.
I violated this law when I was dumb and first starting my own business.
I spent the first six months of my business trying to sell ‘get better as a person’ to university students, until I realised that they didn't give a shit, they didn't have enough money and that it was way too hard to get their attention. I was doing dumb shit. I paid 2-3k in advertising and built was building a website, getting logos designed and doing marketing campaigns to university students.
I did everything but have an honest conversation with my target clients and then try and sell them. I should have just been focusing on, "Are there people willing to buy my product? How can I find those people? How can I talk to them, and how can I try and sell them my product?" Because if 200 people say no to your product, then there is feedback in there somewhere that you can understand and actually recognise and use to improve your product.
None of it really counts until someone who you don’t know gives you money.
The second law that is very important for this stage of business. It potentially can be less important as your business grows but it never fully goes away. The second law is the law of the necessity of moving through rejection. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Fear is NOT an excuse.
If you want to run your own business, you absolutely must be willing to feel the fear of rejection and do things anyway. If you are unwilling to move through the fear of rejection, I don't care how amazing your business idea is. It will not work. If you're unwilling to move through a fear of rejection, you need to go and get a corporate job.
It's binary. There is nothing else. There is no other way of doing this. If you want to run your own business, you simply cannot allow yourself to violate certain laws and this is one of them. If you don’t want to get over your fear and go and speak and sell those people even though you’re terrified - go and get a job in corporate.
When you speak like this to people, their feelings get hurt, and they get very annoyed at you. Those same people don't realise that if they were eating 15 cheeseburgers a day, I don't really think they have a leg to stand on when you point out to them that that's never going to get them to their health goals, because they're violating laws.
It's not you.
It's not that this is all about you and your own beliefs.
It's simply that you're violating laws.
You need to move past the fear of rejection because there is no other way of creating momentum and as the army of one it’s your job to create that. No one else can do it as effectively as you can at the first stages. It’s also FREE to do this, it just costs you your time and sweat.
That’s the end of business time. I’ll take my business socks off now and go back to those three fears we mentioned.
The first is the fear of rejection. "Are people going to buy my product," or, "What happens if everyone laughs at me? What happens if my friends see me running a business and it fails?"
The fear of rejection means that you’re worried that you're going to be shown that you're not good enough because you suck at this and then you're not going to be able to do anything about it. You’re terrified that if you get rejected you can’t change anything and you’re stuck like that forever.
Your brain would much rather procrastinate on a business and fail than actually have to stare and address the fact that it just got rejected hard. Your brain HATES rejection and will do some crazy shit to avoid it.
The secret to getting out of this fear is to take a growth mindset and to realise that the fear of rejection disappears over time after you’ve done it 1000x times. It you realise everything is a growth process, and you prioritise learning over perfection and actually take the leap of faith on yourself that is so needed. The other one is to realise that you don’t really get to choose her, it’s either your business and rejection or corporate life and safety.
Our second fear is the fear of failure and its consequences, and this is almost certainly where my money would be as the fear that’s crippling BD.
The fear of failure cripples people because they think that not only do they think that other people care a lot more about their life than they do in reality, but they think that they only get one shot without realising business is a long-term game.
You're going to be in business for the next 50 years of your life, and if you look at it over that timeframe, then "failing," which is really just learning, doesn't really matter that much.
People who fear failure don't realise that the whole point of failing is to learn, and the more you fail, the faster you learn, and the faster you learn, the faster your business is going to grow, and the faster you're going to get what you want.
The faster you micro fail the safer you make yourself against macro failure. And macro failure is the one we want to avoid. Micro failure is amazing and an integral part of the learning process.
We micro fail (ie try new sales tactic and it not work) so that we don't macro fail (business shuts down because you lost.)
As I've spoken about this in previous BDs, it's not just the fear of failure that is holding you back… It's the consequences of what's going to happen to you if you fail that your brain is terrified of. What does your emotional brain think will happen if you fail? Get that out on paper and realise how absurd it is and you very well may be free of that fear.
Our third candidate, and it's the least likely of the three, but it's also the most insidious and the most overlooked, is that some people legitimately have a fear of success.
They're worried that if they're going to be successful, the consequences of that means they're going to be out in public or that mean people may laugh at them or that they will have haters or that they could be making more money than their parents. They are trapped by their projection of their future and so don’t want to go and create it because they believe that the future is more painful than where they are at the moment.
Getting rid of the fear of success is easy. If people have a problem with you being successful, they are not people you want around in your life. In the case of ‘friends’ cut them out of your life for good because they are toxic drains in your life. In the case of ‘family’ – bit trickier, but don’t put someone else’s feelings above your successful in life because that’s a fantastic recipe for a depressed and resentful future you have right there.
Any or all of these three fears could be holding you back, but the key aspect of this is because you're in a business, if you want to succeed, these don't matter.
They're not excuses. You have to do it anyway… if you actually want to win.
If you prioritise learning, find the laws of business, and follow them, and really go after this with a growth mindset, you will be free to absolutely smash your business.
Let me know if this helped and I'll see you all in the next BD.