The Hardest Thing About Starting A Business

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And it’s something everyone goes through without ever realizing it.

Sentries on every front have defended various business necessities as being the most hellish: SEO, networking, leveraging, marketing, advertising, branding, copywriting, selling, incorporating, describing your benefits, defining your market, getting feedback, gathering support, garnering testimonials, managing failure, handling success, building a website, growing a newsletter, being delusional.

(That paragraph alone gave 22% of people starting a business an anxiety attack. My deepest apologies.)

But none of these individually are overly hard. No no. The shovel to the face of running your own business is having to spend energy learning the next thing you didn’t know before.

It’s The Exhaustion Of New.

New skills, new software, new decisions, new resources, new rules, new identities, new interruptions, new choices.

New. Everything.

You planned your day. Everything is good. But suddenly a sponsor whom you sold on a concoction of pipe dreams and “we’ll iron out the details later” just called and wants their logo removed from your site immediately. Unfortunately, your designer is on vacation so you have to spend 2 hours stumbling through tutorials and how-to’s which, fittingly, is just long enough to puncture the energy you had to do the things you wanted to do.

Sayonara, day!

Knowledge is power but knowledge drains power too.

And being drained is why you’re struggling to find the maddening balance amongst white lies, narcissism and selflessness that comes with writing an about page.

It’s why you’re scared to look at the junkyard that is your unfinished online classes onSkillshare, Udemy and Codeacademy because it will only highlight the things you still don’t know.

We have to learn what other people want. We have to ask, we have to edit, we have to learn persuasion, we have to relearn excel hacks, we have to flex gray matter when all we want to do is chill. the. hell. out. but our day job is sucking us drier than a wet-vac or our starting-a-business savings account is shedding place values at an alarming rate.

Whether we’re bootstrapping or outsourcing, we don’t have to become masters at everything, but we have to be good enough at enough things to convince someone that we’d be someone worth paying. It’s like saying, “Hey you can’t work here until you’re a somewhat proficient blacksmith, marine biologist, journalist and chef. Cool? Cool.”

The way to surely hit a wall is to assume that you can handle all this learning faster than you actually can.

Can’t You Just Fake It?

We’re all faking it to some degree but at some point you, your voice or your proposal, will be in front of a room full of people who are tasked with deciding whether or not to give you money. They’ll ask you questions about all this stuff but it won’t only be about the words you answer with but how you answer them.

People buy from us when it feels right to them. For it to feel right to them, it has to feel right to us. For it to feel right to us, we have to be confident in ourselves. For us to be confident in ourselves, we have to know what we’re providing can work. For us to know what we’re providing can work, we have to prove that it has worked or that it does work. For us to prove that it does work, we have to have tested it somehow. For us to have tested it somehow, we had to learn enough to be able to test it. For us to learn enough to be able to test it, we have to have the energy and the headspace to learn that new something.

Therefore, to convince someone to give us money, we have to have the energy and the headspace to continuously learn something new. You cannot smother the ever-expanding malignant tumor of doubt you have in yourself and how much you don’t know yet…you just learn to live with it long enough to stockpile the necessary knowledge and experience to get the sale you seek. 

Stay thirsty hydrated, my friends.

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Anyone else share this sentiment or have a different take? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. (Thanks to Amy Kauffman at Givily for the Eureka moment for this post.)