Facing the Market

”The gift is to the giver, and it comes back to him” — Walt Whitman

The hardest part of any new project is facing the market.

I work with some exceptionally talented entrepreneurs and dedicated entrepreneurs and as I transition from freelance hands for hire to structuring Engollan into a business behind me — I see the hardest work is always facing the market: there lies rejection and failure. That way lies success.

The prospect of failure must kill more ventures than weaknesses in the ventures themselves.

Failed Ventures

Several months ago, I launched a new company incorporations website at sharecapp.com. The URL name came from an original idea for a SaaS platform that allowed startups and entrepreneurs to model their caps tables and manage their shareholder relationships online.

I mapped out the software, drew some wire frames and even went as far as speaking with some VCs about it. Fortunately, I was warned off the idea, the market was extremely difficult to scope and the usage would only have been driven by scaring businesses into buying. Not good.

But the itch wasn’t completely scratched and so I built a company incorporations platform and put it live at sharecapp.com. No one came. I didn’t love the project. I wasted money on it. I never loved it. I wasted time on it. A few weeks ago I buried it (though I am going to reuse the tech at formations.engollan.com). The project died with barely any attempt to face the market whatsoever. I invested time and money into — several months on and off — but I didn’t love it and consulting, writing and having dinner with my fiancee are all far more important to me. I didn’t face the market and it turned out to be a failure.

(NOTE from January 2016 — its actually alive and kicking very nicely at ShareCapp.com)

It is easy to build tech, to make products. Anyone can do it, though it requires skill and dedication in its own right. The hardest part is to face the market. The real market. The market that will bring customers and luck and money and success.

Emotional Labour

Facing the market is the real work. What Seth Godin calls emotional labour. Facing the market makes you vulnerable and scared. It opens you up to feedback, applause, dislike, love, pity, disaster, success.

Everyday we have to face the market. The market of our friends, who love us and who we love in return — or the other way around. The markets of our families. The market of ourselves.

It is easy to sell yourself short, to underestimate the size and depth of the market. It is easy to fold when the market doesn’t look right. I don’t do things I don’t love anymore because facing the market for something I feel half-hearted about makes a difficult task impossible.

I used to sell myself in the market of things I couldn’t love for too long. Now I do the things I love, in the way that I love to do them. I sell myself into the market to value myself, and in doing so the market values me and I value myself. Material success is when the market values you higher than you value yourself. Failure comes when the market doesn’t value you but you value yourself a lot. Neither is necessarily right.

Once you have given yourself freely, and understood the phenomenal capacity available to you, then you discover that true value is not monetary. If you value yourself correctly, there is no price for your life. None. You exchange your life for the things you do with it. Money comes and goes but the time in your life is a one way exchange. It’s gone. You read this and it was gone.

Time and Value

I am obsessed with time. I have exchanged it too readily for things I did not love, then I reserve it for myself and discovered that it’s value goes down when there is no market to value it.

I am always relearning that small investments of time now pay dividends of time later. I am always re-discovering the pleasures of deferred gratification, knowing that what comes in the future is magnified for being deferred.
 You have to face the market, in order to give anything a value. Give yourself to the market, throw yourself into it. You will be amazed how the market will value you if you face it, feedback, criticism and all. Face it and it will value you.

About James

If you have any questions about business, please feel free to contact me using the contact form on my website.

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Originally published at engollan.com on October 27, 2015.

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