“My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.” ~Ted Turner
FEEL YOU CAN KEEP UP? SIGN UP BELOW.
Nothing is more important to an entrepreneur than a belief in him or herself. Without confidence, there is almost no chance of success. Many times, the aspiring business owner will find himself or herself very much isolated and alone in that confidence, as others don’t feel the same. Emotional, financial or actionable support is rare among friends, family or acquaintances. Helping hands are often not there when most needed. The doubt from the outside is what I like to call “The Noise.”
“The Noise” can kill dreams, if you listen to it. What is “The Noise”? “The Noise” is all the people in your life questioning whether or not you have lost your mind for pursuing the path of entrepreneurship. “The Noise” doubts you can do it. “The Noise” tells you to quit dreaming. “The Noise” tells you to get a job at Starbucks. “The Noise” worries and wonders about your future. “The Noise” questions your life decisions. Sometimes, “The Noise” waits for you to fail, so it can tell you “I told you so.”
The challenge is that “The Noise” can often be created by those closest to the entrepreneur…those he or she trusts the most. “The Noise” often comes from those who care about you the most. “The Noise” can often come from the best of places yet it can destroy lives for those who let it affect their clarity and focus.
Don’t know what “The Noise” is? Everyone close to you supported your decision? You probably came from a long line of entrepreneurs who knew exactly what it means to start your business…or you’re just lucky.
The fact of the matter is that to an entrepreneur, the business is a marriage that can take a lot more than half if it does not work out. When you tell those close to you that you want to get married, there may be questions about whether he or she is right for you.
Business is very much a relationship. When you start a business, it is your husband/wife and the decision is every bit as important as choosing the right life partner. When “The Noise” is closest to you, many of these people couldn’t voice this opinion openly about your dating life, so this is the next best thing!
So how can you block “The Noise” out when it’s so close to you? Let’s discuss what other entrepreneurs have gone through to get a sense of what it is like to start a company.
I talked to some entrepreneurs to get their thoughts.
“Lots of people that care about you will tell you they wish you the best and they ‘support’ you. Support to me means the simple things like sharing my site, sharing my FaceBook page, actively telling people about the coolest thing on the planet that your friend built. Basic things like that mean a lot to a person building a company. Very few have even done that. You would be shocked at how many close friends never even took the time to like my FaceBook page…but I see that they like Macy’s or Target or some other brand that their good friend did NOT create.”
~Scott Bowen, CEO of FitTogether.com
“I think that the most prevailing response was something along the lines of "Yeah, sure you are." Perhaps this sentiment wasn't spoken clearly but it was obvious that most people didn't actually believe that we'd go through with it.”
~Mike, owner of Gecko Rock Resort
"When you’re a kid you dream of what you want to do when you grow up. When you hit your 20's you will fail a lot and figure out what you aren't and what you really want to be. When you turn 30, you will work the hardest you can to achieve what you want for your newfound self. Once you hit 40, you will realize it was all a test, and if you passed you will have a happy life."
~ Nick DelGuice, Vice President of SGI Builders
“My dad had a job his whole career. Engineer. Made good money. He also has a very low tolerance for risk.
Several years ago I had my best month ever in online business and netted out over $60K. Net. As in, ‘this goes in my personal bank account.’
That same month my dad sat me down and counseled me on why I should get a job.”
~ PebbleMe- Reddit entrepreneur
“Most people were not supportive of my decision including those I looked up to. Usually when people tell you you're crazy it’s when you’re onto something but when it’s those you who have your best interest at heart it puts you in a bit of a quandary and you really need to listen to your heart!”
~ Louie Torrellas, Emmy winner-CEO of Ambitious Media-Co-Founder of Ambiance Lifestyle, Community and Events
“My humble beginnings were very tough with many set backs. After a while, my family tried to discourage me [and told me] to go get a "REAL JOB" like being a cop or a fireman but I always said ... ‘That's not me.’ I knew someday with persistence and some help from the good Lord I would become a successful entrepreneur. I didn't know it would take so long!”
~Thomas Meehan, ex CEO of MD247
So, what are some good principles an entrepreneur facing “The Noise” can refer to?
The first thing you have to do is realize that it is mostly coming from a good place. The more people care about you, the more they worry about you. Yes, life is short and your decisions about starting a company on the grand scale should not impact other people’s lives, but they may not look at it that way. The instinct may be to protect you from making a mistake.
Be honest…are they right? Is your idea/path asinine? Have you asked the world if they really need what you are selling? You must look deep into yourself (or at the surface) and see if you are really working hard or if they have a point. If you believe in yourself, then it’s time to remove “The Noise.”
Use it to motivate you. Yes, it’s demeaning to have people close to you who should believe in you doubting you. Nothing would feel better than proving you are right. Let any anger or pain that you have drive you to work harder and smarter. Have you done all you can to prepare? Did you start your business the right way? Have you identified your risks/rewards?
Confidence is always a prerequisite for a successful entrepreneur. If you believe in yourself and your idea, people can see it. Fear breeds fear. Fearlessness gives confidence. Those who truly care about you need to see you are 100% sure you are doing the right thing in order for them to feel better. If they see any weakness at all, it will make things significantly worse and any weakness will be exploited.
You can’t tell them about the icebergs. "The Noise" does not care how many challenges or difficulties you have or all the steps needed start your company. Every business venture has risks, and avoiding those risks is like navigating a ship around a series of icebergs. If you tell “The Noise” makers about every challenge, they won’t feel bad for you or respect you for sticking it out. “The Noise” will only get scared for you and think it is right. When it thinks it is right, it grows louder. Keep your challenges, failures and successes close to your vest. The less they know about your icebergs, the better.
No timelines. When “The Noise” makers ask how long something is going to take, do not tell them a timeline…you’ll only look bad if there is any deviation and the deadline passes without the expected event. Instead say, “When it’s ready to launch, you will be the first to know” and leave it at that. Timelines are tricky things in business, don’t obligate yourself to one…things take longer than you expect.
Do not defend yourself. This is the toughest, by far. It will backfire 100% of the time. You may want to tell some people where to shove it. Don't. You may want to remind them that they have never accomplished anything. Bad idea. You may want to point out that they live their lives in fear like all the sheep waiting for slaughter. Don't do it. You may even be tempted to rip their significant other or children. Refrain. Composure is the only way through "The Noise."
Succeed. When you start crushing it, all the people who doubted you will be the very first ones to tell you how much they believed in you and supported you. After you have been successful for a period of time, they will forget about all the risks you took and how worried they were, and think this happened overnight with a little luck. At that point “The Noise” changes, but that noise is a lot more rewarding than “The Noise” entrepreneurs hear when they start their ventures.
What “The Noise” doesn’t realize is that of course you have lost your mind, that’s why you decided to open your own business. When you look at the numbers (50% of businesses close within 5 years), you have to be a little crazy. Without great risk there is not great reward, and great reward can often be the pride in building a business and supporting yourself. It is often said entrepreneurs work 80 hours a week so they don’t have to work 40 hours for someone else. Some people understand that mentality – others never will.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Beans is CEO of Texting Base, Inc., out of Orlando, Florida. Texting Base is a cloud-based software that adds efficiency and power to business texting communications. Combining the efficiency of a “mass text” and the effectiveness of a personal text message, Texting Base uses patent pending software to allow businesses to build relationships with their customers like never before. Prior to Texting Base, Eric was a partner in Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted Mortgage Company that grew to over 1B/Year in originations. Eric is an inventor, investor, and entrepreneur. Eric has experience in writing, radio, TV and entertainment.