How to Conquer Self-Doubt (And Make Your Startup Dreams a Reality)
Every part of our world is changing. Startups have disrupted the way businesses have run for centuries: Airbnb has turned the hotel industry upside down, Uber has challenged the taxi companies (successfully in most cities), and even straight-laced banks are starting to pay| attention to what new competitors offer.
All of these innovations started out as ideas. Our world is not in a period of rapid change because there are more ideas floating around than ever before – but, rather, because it is easier for anyone to act on their ideas. You might have an idea for a company or product today, and by tomorrow, you can be reader to show your buyers something.
That’s what I did when I came up with Valuation App, a mobile tool for startup analysis. Using just a deck, I raised money from 57 individuals to crowdfund the app’s expenses. Today, my app is available on Android and iOS.
Of course, ideas are worthless until you’ve developed them. The only way to succeed is to pursue your dreams and make them real.
Doubt Stops More Dreams Than Anything Else
According to Suzy Kassem, author of Rise Up and Salute the Sun, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” Kassem is right: Anyone can have an idea, but most people doubt their ability to make their dreams a reality. These people give up immediately and fail without even trying.
If you are to join the ranks of the innovators, then overcoming self-doubt and moving forward with your idea is crucial. Each step you take improves your odds of success.
Dealing with self-doubt is a personal experience. Not every strategy works for every person, but one key action seems to help many: making a decision and following through with it. That simple act, even if you’re only making a small change, can be enough.
Need a few other exercises? Here are some to help you overcome your self-doubt:
- Create a community of supporters who will remind you to keep moving forward.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people, even if you have to avoid sites like Facebook to do so.
- Write out what you plan to accomplish and revisit that list regularly.
Just Enough Validation and No More
You may discover that some of your ideas aren’t viable when you have a chance to do some basic research. Once you understand how the industry around your audience works, you’ve got to move forward — and quickly.
Asking for advice and validation can be dangerous, especially if you ask the experts in a given industry. Experts know everything about how their industries run today, so they may assume that your idea can’t possibly work because it doesn’t already exist. But industry newcomers can sometimes see opportunities that veterans can’t.
In fact, hearing the word “no” may be a good sign. Shafqat Islam, the founder of NewsCred, says that “[I]f you’re not getting told ‘no’ enough times a day, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough.” According to Islam, hearing “no” a lot is a good thing, because it means “you’re trying to do something that’s disruptive, that’s groundbreaking.”
Get just enough information to know if your idea can be possibly be turned into a reality. You don’t need to know if you’re dreaming up something that’s easy to build or that will be a big winner. You just need to know enough to begin.
That Sense of Drowning Is a Blessing
You’ll probably find that you’ve chosen a difficult path once you do start working on your idea. That’s good. For many people, a little struggle can be the best motivation possible. When you’ve jumped head first into pursuing your idea and you have no option but to succeed, you can find new strengths.
You’ll need to devote every hour in the day to making your dreams a reality. Your dreams need to be your top priority. Think about them first thing in the morning and right before you fall asleep.
Bringing an idea to fruition won’t be easy. Sooner or later, you’ll want to take the easy way out. But when you have no other alternative than to make the thing in front of you work, you’ll be able to create miracles.
A version of this article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.
Sohin Shah is an angel investor and a mentor to startups. He can be reached at www.sohinshah.com. In 2012, he successfully crowdfunded Valuation App with 57 backers and went on to pioneer real estate crowdfunding.
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