My biggest takeaway from the world of startups, which fits with every industry.
The other day a friend asked me what lesson helped me the most in transitioning from helping startups to helping solopreneurs. I drew a blank. Today I can tell you exactly what it was.
1. The biggest takeaway was: iteration.
So what does iterating mean exactly? Imagine you’ve been working on your website for a while. Would you wait to launch it until it’s “perfect” or change things around based on the feedback you get? If you’re waiting to launch something until it’s perfect, you’ll never do it. That’s what startups are really good at — they iterate (change things around) as they go.
Even if you’re changing your website while it’s public or improving your product in stages — beta, alpha, etc. — that’s way better than spending a ton of time on something that might never be “good enough”.
“Good enough” is in your head. Only your customers can tell you what they really want, and wouldn’t it be better to have something to start with, rather than never have anything because your standards are impossible?
Of course you want to have something. That’s why I love that the world of startups led me to “the lean startup” framework.
2. The biggest risk is: jumping without a parachute.
The lean framework can be applied to anything: work, business, life. It’s about learning and changing things as you go. It’s about not starting with a ready product but starting with a miminum viable one, and then learning and improving as you go.
You’ll probably not feel ready when you have to jump, but you do it anyway. Thus the whole metaphor about jumping from a plane without having a parachute, but somehow managing to build it on your way down.
(Please don’t try this in real life, it’s JUST a metaphor.)
This kind of lifestyle will almost never bring you security or confidence. Chances are, you’ll feel incompetent, stressed, and disheartened most of the time. But that is the price of admission to this amazing place called entrepreneurship. It takes a special kind of person to enter willingly.
Now, are you sure you want to be an entrepreneur?
3. The biggest lesson is: don’t wait for “perfect”.
I talk to people a lot in my field of work and every one of them has hangups. Some wait until their branding is on point, others want to nail a part of their strategy before they focus on the next thing, and yet a third kind NEVER START because they’re afraid of the feedback they might get. The third group should consider this:
What’s the worst that can happen? Someone will tell you you suck.
Uhh, okay, but hear my objections first:
- Nobody says that.
- The people who say that have issues.
- Most people are super helpful.
- It’s not personal; it’s business.
- You need thicker skin.
Those are all the things I have learned from being a creative solopreneur. If you want to survive in the business world, you’ll need to grow thicker skin. If you can’t do that, I’m sure you can find yourself a nice “job”.
4. The biggest question is: What are you willing to do (and give up) to get the life you want?
The life you want is probably full of big dreams, like leaving a legacy behind or educating people, etc. If you want this life, you need to believe you deserve it, and you have to pay the price that is required when you make your order with the Universe.
Most of the time, doing something meaningful means being put down, mocked, and disregarded. The weapons that will help you to win this battle are patience, faith, and confidence. Without those, you’re toast.
Ultimately, the choice is yours:
Are you ready to become the person you need to be to make it happen?
P.S. I actually had to go through this transformation last year, so read my story if you want to learn how I did it. It has something to do with overcoming mental blocks and building yourself a safety net of sorts.
5. The last nail in the coffin: What’s the alternative?
Coincidentally, this is my favorite question in the world. No, really, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better question than that one.
Whatever problem you’re facing, you can alleviate your hangup by asking this question. For example, you’re thinking of starting your own business, but you’re afraid, so you’re staggering the process.
Ask yourself, What’s the alternative to launching?
The alternative may be that you’ll never have something you’re proud of, or that you’ll never feel like yourself fully, or possibly that you’ll always be doing somebody else’s bidding. If you were born an entrepreneur, nothing will be able to distract you from who you’re supposed to become.
Only you know who that is, deep down.
So… Are you a creative rebel?
By now you must have made your decision: jump or don’t jump? You might have decided before, and now you’re certain.
Congratulations! You’re ready to enter the creative rebel ranks. Now that you’re with us, what happens next? Well, now you —
Go do. There is no try, only do. There is no think, only DO.
And do it your way. (The motto of the creative rebel.) There is no pride or fame in copying other people or doing what everyone else is doing. You’re just as unique as your business is supposed to be, and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you can create the kind of life you’d be proud of living.
Good luck, have fun, and I’ll see you on the other side.
P.S. I write other articles like this over at my blog and have a stash of free goodies for creative rebels called The Treasury. Come and get it!