Conquer Your Fear - A New Entrepreneurs Guide


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CONQUER YOUR FEAR - A New Entrepreneur’s Guide - What You Need to Know Before You Start Your Business - is an honest and easy to read look at the start up challenges many entrepreneurs face.

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Conquer Your Fear - A New Entrepreneurs Guide

  1. 1. CONQUER YOUR FEAR A New Entrepreneur’s Guide What You Need to Know Before You Start Your Business NAOMI MATTHEWS
  2. 2. Why I Wrote This An accomplished, bright and successful friend of mine applauded me for having the courage to explore my urge to setup my own business. “I wish I didn’t have so much fear,” she said honestly. That’s what starting anything new in life is about - getting rid of that fear to free yourself to engage in following your true path in life. When a career change lays ahead, and you consider not working for someone else, fear creeps in. We doubt our abilities to work for ourselves. We worry that we will fail. We worry we won’t fulfill our potential. Once, I even worried that I’d be ‘broke’ and as my partner so smartly put it, ‘oh don’t be foolish there will always be a bed and food around.” She was trying to say, “stop fearing the really impossible and free your mind to explore your dreams.” CONQUERYOUR FEAR 2
  3. 3. As I’ve started to live the life I’ve always dreamed of, I’ve written down a few observations from setting up my business. I want to share with you my insights from leaving the safety (and relative mediocrity) of salaried life. If you’re pondering a move or just feeling stuck in life I hope that my experiences can reassure you that you’re not alone, that I can help give you an ounce of courage. Most of all I want you to conquer your fear of the unknown. Before you read on let me assure you that most of us have doubts, worries and many sleepless nights as we develop the courage to make change. It’s normal. It’s natural. It will make you a stronger, smarter, wiser and more colourful person. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 3
  4. 4. Contents I. Intuition 5 II. The Opportunity 6 III. Research. Research. Research. 7 IV. Fear - Get Rid of It 9 V. Don’t Listen to Your Parent/s 13 VI. Big Minded Friends 15 VII. A Business Plan 18 VIII. Cash Flow 20 IX. Alright Isn’t Good Enough 23 X. To the Ladies 24 XI. It’s Not Work! 27 Copyright 2010 by Naomi Matthews All rights reserved. If you’d like to reproduce or use any part of this work, please request permission from the author. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 4
  5. 5. I. Intuition Have faith that your inclination is the right one. Listen to your gut and follow what it tells you to do. Indulge the voice that is urging you to move on this idea, your concept. Remember to disengage the logical part of your brain - for just a while. Purposefully put on pause the helpful contributions from family members, namely parents. Their influence can be powerful as may be their underlying authority. Remember that they’ve had their life. And they’re living it. Now go live yours. Follow what your heart tells you. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 5
  6. 6. II. The Opportunity You have a great idea - well, brilliant! It could be a new angle, it could be just doing something better than how it’s done today (which seems to be the case for many successful businesses). Let me remind you of one thing though - good business ideas will keep coming along. If you don’t move on this idea, that’s fine. There will be another one. To misquote Richard Branson, business opportunities are like buses. If you miss one there will be another one along. Don’t panic today if you miss the idea or it doesn’t work out. More will come along. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 6
  7. 7. III. Research. Research. Research. You have the gut instinct that your idea and your timing is right. It seems to be a good opportunity. You’re excited - you might be on to something here. It could help people improve their lives or it’s a new technology. Or just a fun new product with brilliant branding. Maybe you’ve decided to skip working for someone else and hang out your sign as a professional in your field. This is the Hard Work stage where we find out if you can make a go of it. Ask yourself - does any one want what I have to offer? It’s your life, your money and likely, other’s money. You might be married and have a spouse and children. It’s all rather daunting. Fear and doubt might be creeping in as your venture into what feels like an unsafe zone. To reassure yourself and others, you need to steady your compass to guide you along. Now is the time to hit the books. Talk to people. Read industry reports. Conduct surveys. Whatever it is CONQUERYOUR FEAR 7
  8. 8. that you need to do to convince yourself (and your banker, if you have one) that there is a viable market, a need for your product or service, your research needs to settle this. A word of caution about research. An article once said, ‘Science can be used to prove or disprove anything.’ Be unbiased and ruthless as you explore your idea. And also be realistic. If you’re doing your sales projections, do them, then reduce by 50% for the first few years and add 15% for cost overruns. I guarantee that your project will go over on its initial projected costs. Plan for it. Nine out of ten new businesses fail in the first year for just this reason. (We’ll talk more about cash flow in a minute.) CONQUERYOUR FEAR 8
  9. 9. IV. Fear - Get Rid of It This is the most important topic that I’ll write about. To be successful you must remove the barrier that limits your creativity. Conquer your fear that you will be broke. Conquer your fear that the worst can happen. Conquer your fear that you will fail. Without fear ideas will grow into action! Know that you are bright, talented, and capable of amazing things when you put your mind to the task. Know that you will always have shelter and that you will always have food. Know that failure is only a limit that other people set upon you. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 9
  10. 10. Live your dreams. Your ideas. Live your life. Success is to be measured in your freedom, your health and your happiness. It is what you create and what you give back to others. Your success can be intangible - be it an idea or how you affect others - and it can be building a business from nothing. It can be conquering a fear, learning a new skill, or changing careers to something that you’ve always wanted to do. Wealth and public profile is often seen as a measure of success. My personal opinion is that I deeply respect those that have earned it themselves, free of shady deals and less than ethical conduct (which is subjective in its own right). There is no doubt that in my own mind that I want to profit handsomely from my venture. For me, profit is an indicator of how well I’ve done as a leader and I love having a goal. Define your own measure of success and go for it! CONQUERYOUR FEAR 10
  11. 11. When you think it’s impossible, that all of this just isn’t sensible, think of the mobile phone salesman who had a dream to be a famous opera singer. He dreamt it and it happened. Paul Potts appeared on the stage of a UK talent show. He sold cell phones for a living. He looked like a very average person. His dream, since he was little was to sing opera for a living. He wanted to be on stage and to have people come to his performances. Stepping outside of his comfort zone, Paul went on the talent show With his talent that he’d taught himself and his innate ability, he won the show and was vaulted into the public eye. A cool £1m contract later, Paul started travelling the world to entertain others. Paul is living his dream. He stepped out on stage. Breath in as deep as you can, sit up straight, put your shoulders back. Now go on and step out on your stage. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 11
  12. 12. V. Don’t Listen to Your Parent/s Every eight year old would love to be reading the heading of this section. There would be peas left on every plate across the nation. Now is the time for you to unlearn what decades of being parented has taught you. True, remember to respect your elders. Also know when to respect yourself and to trust your capability and your knowledge. This adventure of exploring your idea is a good exercise in having confidence in your given abilities and the learnings you’ve absorbed along the way. You are a capable human being. (And I know you are because you are reading this which means you are considering a change.) Switch off when your parents ask out loud why you’re quitting a perfectly good job to explore less known territory. You can handle this how you like but I recommend that given their use as future potential investors, and because they are your parents, treat them with kindness and good manners. Be patient with them. Listen to them but CONQUERYOUR FEAR 12
  13. 13. don’t let them stop you. Forget about limits. Boundaries are what other people who are afraid put on others. This is their fear. Don’t let it spread to you. The incredibly talented and focused Olympian Carl Lewis summed this up perfectly. In reference to the possible he exclaimed, ‘“Scientists have proven that it's impossible to long-jump 30 feet, but I don't listen to that kind of talk. Thoughts like that have a way of sinking into your feet.” This following exercise helped me to dream and to stay focused (when there are days when I’ve been unfocused or have ventured down a ‘wrong path.’) Write down what you want your dream life to be. Envision it as a picture - write about your home, your family, your spouse and how you dream the business to be. Or think about your invention and dream of what it could do. Or see what your photography studio looks like. Write about your wealth - if that is important to you. What will you do with it? Explore all the avenues in that dream - CONQUERYOUR FEAR 13
  14. 14. and remember to write about you. How do you see your physical and emotional self (I hope healthy and happy. Tell yourself what it is that you’re going to do to get there if you are unhappy or not fully fit. I did a form of this exercise in college and later in life for short term goals (1 year). When I first did this in my professional life it took about 5 years for it to happen (and it happened in stages, building as I grew). It only took a long time because it was a big dream and those aspirations take time to come true. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 14
  15. 15. VI. Big Minded Friends You will come across friends that are unsupportive of your ideas. This is, disappointingly, a fact, unless you are surrounded by incredibly exuberant, forward thinking and empowered people. For most of us that is not the case. Don’t be afraid to tell your pals your dreams but have the courage to step away from those that put you down. Surround yourself with people who dream the way you do, who think big ideas and who have grand plans of their own. Grand plans are anything that expands the mind without having to take a drug or too much alcohol to get there. Read about successful people. Meet other grand planners you otherwise would not meet. Listen to their ideas. Step out of your zone. Big people have big ideas. Small people will put you down and try to throw the harness on you to rein you in. One of my extended family members asked why I was working at my business plan since I didn’t CONQUERYOUR FEAR 15
  16. 16. have a business or a ‘proper job’ to go to. I told him I wasn’t going to get there if I didn’t do the work. He himself had lived a life of unexplored potential and I wasn’t about to be held back by him. The few times I did visit him and his wife, there were always minor digs. I stopped visiting them. It might be difficult to ‘divorce’ some people in your life. But you have to ask yourself, “is my own happiness and the fulfillment of my dreams and aspirations more important than our friendship?” The answer should be yes. If it isn’t you need to do a rethink because any friend that holds such sway in your life should be a Grand Planner too. In my past I had a partner that did not support me in the way that I needed for my plans to move forward. I felt stuck and this was holding me back. In an effort to ‘save/heal’ the relationship, a counsellor worked with me to understand myself and my partner. Once a week I’d show up with the mindset that I was there to solve my relationship CONQUERYOUR FEAR 16
  17. 17. woes. What I found was the conviction to uncover where I honestly wanted my life to go. Knowing myself better, what drives me, what gets me up in the morning gave me the courage to leave an unhealthy relationship. It also gave me the fortitude to plan to leave my work as I knew it (at that time I was in a salaried, corporate role). With that I left financial security, an Audi company vehicle, a healthy salary, bonuses, and my future as someone else’s managing director. Today I’m happy to tell you that this has been the happiest year of my life (except when I got my pony at age 10 1/2). Surround yourself with Grand Planners. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 17
  18. 18. VII. A Business Plan Let me share with you the more ‘practical side’ of setting up your own business. In the last six sections we dealt with the softer issues that are vital for your success. If you’re stuck on any of those sections deal with them before moving on. The foundation of your planning has to be rock solid before you build the details. Now that you’re confident that your personal life, your emotional self and your research is in order it’s time to write it all down. Yes, the business plan. This plan is surprisingly easy to write. It’s all in you, just not in concrete words. This exercise is the process of digesting your life’s experiencing and placing it in written format in a document that could also be called “The Road Map.” You need a thorough business plan and your investors and your banker will demand one. Businesses without plans cease trading shortly after they are set up - in most instances. The planning can be arduous. It will take weeks and CONQUERYOUR FEAR 18
  19. 19. maybe months to write. You might have paralysis at first. Have heart and have patience. This process will clarify the worries you may have about certain areas and it will give you the discipline to develop a plan to conquer those worries. Many who go through this will say that their most dreaded part of the business plan is tackling the finances. They have fear because they’ve never tackled a cash flow statement before. Others are afraid that they might lack the capital to get their business off the ground and running. The latter is how I felt. For me, the fear of what those numbers has shown me has caused inertia. Inertia can be solved by having someone push you (such as deadline with a banker). Or it may be having a knowledgeable pal or local entrepreneurship organisation that can review your project. Knowing your numbers and your limits will give you the confidence to move forward. You need to know your numbers. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 19
  20. 20. VIII. Cash. Flow. My 103 year old grandfather said ‘make sure you have enough cash in your first two years or it won’t work out.’ Every decent business start up book will say the same thing. Back to what I said earlier, most businesses fail in the first year. Many fail because they don’t have a business plan and run out of cash. We all know the saying, fail to plan, plan to fail! You must know how much money you will need for start up. Then plan what you will need for working capital for your day to day needs. Make sure you pad in there for cost overruns or ‘I didn’t see that coming’ events. When or if you get into financial difficulty you may suddenly feel very alone. And you very well may be. Have a good accountant. Keep your books up to date. Don’t be the Managing Director and the bookkeeper if you tend to be disorganised with paper and receipts. Know your figures and where you are financially at all times. Make sure your CONQUERYOUR FEAR 20
  21. 21. accounts receivable are being paid on time, all the time. If they’re not, call them. And call them again. Some companies give payment discounts if the invoice is settled within 30 days. Whatever it is that you need to do to limit the money going out and keep it coming in as forecasted - do it! On the detail side, if you have inventory - keep it low. Inventory isn’t stuff piled in a room waiting to be turned into a product. It is cash. It is coins. It just happens that you used your hard earned money to buy something that looks like it could one day be a bar of soap. Be mindful that it’s useless until you use it and mindful that money went out to pay for this. Keep your stock as low as possible. Watch where your employees spend if you have someone else helping with buying. A good practise for this is to make sure you sign all invoices before payment. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 21
  22. 22. Your income statement might show that you are making a profit but it’s your bank account and the cash in it that is your true measure of solvency. If you take a loan, please remember that at any time the bank has the right to call your loan. With the credit crunch, the recession, toxic asset-backed loans and failing banks, nervous bankers have called many a loan. Setting up procedures and processes from the start is good discipline. Apart from organising your accounting software and your bookkeeping, that also means getting any legal work with respect to leases, company formation and/or distribution of ownership clear from the start. I know this isn’t directly about cash flow but it can certainly affect it in the future! In all good conscience I had to put these words in somewhere and here seemed like the best fit! It’s your money. Protect it, watch it and be mindful of where it goes. Make sure other’s treat it like it’s their own. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 22
  23. 23. IX. Alright Isn’t Good Enough As you travel through the various stages of setup you will need the help of others. This may take the form of bankers, an accountant, a lawyer, branding help, graphic designers, chefs, artists, photographers - you get the idea. You’ll be interacting with a vast spectrum of personalities and professions. How you articulate your vision and convey that to others will directly affect the quality of the output that they will provide to you. Be clear. Where needed, write a brief of your expectations for that person. If you’re working with a chef, write a brief explaining your company, your vision, its intended clientele, the products and ingredients. Learn how to say what you are doing and why it’s so great in 20 seconds or less. (It’s okay if it takes ages to figure this out, I’m still trying to find the words for mine because the attraction is I want to talk about it for ages but people don’t want to listen for long!) CONQUERYOUR FEAR 23
  24. 24. Be clear about what makes you and your company different. Why will you survive in these times of austerity? What can a small business proactively do to avoid a trouncing in the competitive world of business? Most importantly, remember to promote yourself. By this I mean mentally switch your mindset from “I’m setting up a soap making business” to “I lead a soap making business that produces own label bar soap for better quality retailers in the UK.” All this builds to the topic of this section, “Alright Isn’t Good Enough.’ As you develop your enterprise not everyone will share your enthusiasm. There will be those that you hire or meet that will consume your time unnecessarily. These people may seek something for nothing or they may lack the commitment to your vision. As the Managing Director you have the right to control your time and to know when to leave people. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 24
  25. 25. There will be those that will not work to your standard. When they want to cut corners it’s time to cut them out. It’s okay to take charge and to say to people it’s not working out or that you are not comfortable with the current direction. You must do this for you to progress. This is about your success and happiness. You need to engage with other Grand Planners who also work to a high standard if you’re going to do the job right the first time. There are some things in life that are just plain true and one is you get what you pay for. Services that cost less may demand much more of your time and input. This may be fine if you have a strong sense already of what you want and can help guide the person or company along. It’s not helpful, for example, if you need a copywriter and struggle to find the right words yourself. Some of the best money that I ever spent in the start up phase was hiring copywriters to develop the ‘tone’ of the business. This was much like giving my company a personality - and a life. I will CONQUERYOUR FEAR 25
  26. 26. freely admit that for one person starting a small company it was what many see as a peripheral indulgence. Remember what your mother taught you - you get what you pay for. Do it right the first time. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 26
  27. 27. X. To the Ladies For the women reading this, let me speak to you candidly and say never underestimate your ability to create a roaring success. Possessing XY chromosomes is not a prerequisite to success and we can look to a long string of brilliantly accomplished women to prove this. Another saying that proves mostly true is, “behind every good man is a great woman.” You know why? She does all the work - he gets the credit. The majority of women that I know are simply lousy at taking credit because they just want to get on with the job at hand. On the UK version of the The Apprentice show, Lord Sugar had advised two of the female participants to stop being ‘busy bees” in the background and to step up and get noticed for their efforts. Ladies, you possess inherent talent that is vital to the success of your venture. You are likely loyal, hard working, bright, committed, a nurturer and an accomplished multi-tasker. There is no doubt CONQUERYOUR FEAR 27
  28. 28. that when you make a pot of coffee or tea in the morning, you also empty the dishwasher, wipe down the counters and tidy something else up. You start multitasking from the first waking moment. What I’m getting at is each one of you must acknowledge your abilities and have the confidence to promote yourself! Let me tell you another story about a housewife who turned her home-based teddy bear business into an international success story. Some years ago I was an au pair for two small Belgian children. The husband left the home each morning and the wife, aged 29, would withdraw to her office to work on her toy distribution company, AM Toys (named after her first borne son). Their home was a child’s dream with stuffed teddy’s occupying the downstairs quarter. Katia imported plush toys and sold them to other businesses. Without having a brand her customers soon went directly to the manufacturer, cutting AM Toys out. That was fifteen years ago. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 28
  29. 29. My cousin gave birth to beautiful little girl and I picked up a stuffed teddy as a gift. It was exquisitely soft and I was drawn to its soft colours that perfectly matched the baby’s room. The product tag said the company - AM Toys. distributor. It was also branded - Noukies. A quick internet search revealed that my former employers had created a distinct and product line. What was once stuffed teddies sold from a home- based office was now a DVD series, nursery furniture, stick-able wall art, furniture and g o r g e o u s l y c r a f t e d t o y s . N o u k i e s ( now has a presence in 26 countries. All this came from the desire of a driven, bright and committed lady who had a vision. She was no different than most of us, juggling two small children, a home, a spouse and a fledgling business. You can do it too! CONQUERYOUR FEAR 29
  30. 30. XI. It’s Not Work! The day will come when you are sitting at your desk, working, or wherever it is that you work and it will suddenly feel like it’s not work. It will feel like this is what you want to do all the time. It will no longer feel like a chore to review a draft of something on a Sunday night at 930pm. If you’re in corporate life, imagine how it feels to be at your desk, on your computer for a few hours late on a Sunday night, having spent perhaps eighty hours at work the following Monday to Friday. You might feel tired, a bit drained. If you had a choice between your preparing for your Monday morning or being in the Seychelles - what would you choose? There will come a time when you’d rather be setting up your business than dreaming of travelling about, further delaying the start up of your enterprise. A time will come when all you will want to do is work on moving your business along. When that feeling sweeps over you, you will know CONQUERYOUR FEAR 30
  31. 31. that this is what you are meant to be doing. When that time comes you will know that you are on the right path. This is where you should be. My partner and I have a weekly date night. Every week we do something together, just the two of us. One evening it was a meal at home then a movie. In between the end of dessert and the movie I snuck into my study to check my email. The final work from the copywriters had arrived! Yipee! Like a great comic book, I started devouring the pages and I forgot about the world around me. An hour and a half later I was still there and so ended our date night. Get consumed by your work but don’t let it consume your life. Avoid your spouse resorting to labelling herself ‘a computer widow’ and remember to see your children if you are so fortunate to have them. Life passes by once and very quickly so. While you’ll miss out on certain things, be present, however much you can be, to those that matter most. CONQUERYOUR FEAR 31
  32. 32. About the Author After a business degree at university a logical career in corporate life lay ahead, following the reasonable suggestion of Naomi’s father’s to “be a vice-president by 35.’’ Naomi started running a small chain of upscale fishmonger shops. Moving on up in the food chain, she worked as a director at a major Canadian grocery retailer before setting sights on the shores of old Blighty. Whilst working for one of the UK’s largest chilled food manufacturers she was resuscitated by one of her colleagues after suffering a near-death-by- Powerpoint experience. She resigned to set up her own food manufacturing business in the UK. Naomi lives in London UK and when not doing “a proper job” she’s off doing photography, biking in Richmond park, running along the Thames, exploring quaint pubs & restaurants, hiking in north Wales or hanging out with her 103 year old grandfather. If you’d like to have a chat, you’re only a stranger once. Naomi can be reached at CONQUERYOUR FEAR 32