An entrepreneur is a courageous individual. We are driven by passion to create, be of service to the world, and quite often by a deep need for recognition and approval. Passion, service and approval motivations are so strong that they override the basic need for safety and security that can keep others from taking the risk. This initial entrepreneurial courage is absolutely necessary to propel startups forward. However, it can just as quickly distort into a debilitating lack of focus, chronic exhaustion and self-doubt.
KILLER IDEA #1: Passion Equals Plan
Most solo entrepreneurs start fast out of the gate with an idea to fill a need they see in the world. This initial enthusiastic energy is contagious, causing the inner circle to provide strong initial encouragement. This “halo effect” inspires the solo entrepreneur to dive even deeper, without realizing this initial surge is not sustainable.
In fact, 90% of start-ups fail within a couple of years, when the surge has waned. Numerous small business experts (Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and others) are currently assuring the entrepreneur that a business plan of any kind is utterly unnecessary, citing successful entrepreneurs who never had one. This approach ignores that these successful entrepreneurs represent 5% of startups. That doesn’t seem to provide a lot of proof for their “no plan” stance. In fact, the sheer volume of entrepreneurs operating without a plan and failing certainly seems to indicate more business planning might be a good thing to try.
Entrepreneurs often are in what I call a “soul business” such as coaching, speaking, healing, multi-level marketer, or as a creative resource. In these particular niches, there is a pervasive belief that following one’s calling should be enough to attract the right volume of business. Rarely is passion enough without a plan to send it into the world.
KILLER IDEA #2: It Has to Be Perfect
Perfectionism is an epidemic, and for entrepreneurs (or wanna-be’s) it can stop the journey before it begins. One more credential or class seems vital for success. The idea that no website, logo or marketing can happen until it has been perfected is the top limiting factor for entrepreneurs. Perfection is a moving target that is never achieved – by anyone, anywhere at any time.
The quest for perfect quickly becomes demoralizing. By contrast, the pursuit of excellence is hugely motivating. Excellence allows the entrepreneur to try something out, test it, measure the results, and adjust accordingly. This excellence through curiosity approach of is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs, willing to be their own guinea pigs, and let go of the need to have all the answers before they start.
KILLER IDEA #3: I’m an Imposter
There is nothing entirely new under the sun. But there are infinite possibilities for unique insights, approaches and processes that can help improve our lives. Self-doubt about the validity, the creativity and the credibility of the entrepreneur’s idea is a common deal-breaker. Almost every entrepreneur suffers from a form of imposter syndrome at one time or another. It often shows up as the idea, “Just who do I think I am to [fill in the action]?”
The internet is an interesting source of this imposter sensation, since at the click of a keystroke it is possible to see all the companies around the world that are named what you are named, have competing URLs, offer what you offer and frequently appear to have more credibility, proof of work or are better funded at least.
I started my first business before all of that, and bought up my first URL before URLs were cool. The result was I owned a hot property I sold years later. But if I had tried to start that business in 2017, I might not have gotten very far, since the smart, sassy company name I selected was already owned with a .com, a .biz, a .net and a .org.
Don’t let the apparent similarities fool you. You are your own unique person who can easily outperform those others with your vision, executed effectively.
KILLER IDEA #4: It has to Work – Or Else!
We can sometimes get forced into entrepreneurship by circumstances life throws at us. I call this the Cosmic Two-by-four. Downsizing, an intolerable workplace, health challenges or family issues can make entrepreneurship seem like the best alternative. The problem with this approach is the need for immediate cash influx puts the budding entrepreneur in an anxious place.
The ability to grow over time is crucial to business sustainability.
The myth about fast growth endures, even after numerous studies show fast-growth companies burn out faster, and simply do not last more than 5-10 years. This myth of fast growth with big revenues, perpetuated by many online marketers and MLM organizations, is demoralizing when it doesn’t materialize for the individual business. It also tends to mean that these businesses don’t have a Plan B or C in place in order to pay the bills while they are growing.
If you are trying to grow a business fast and are unable to pay your bills, that is malpractice. First, you need an income stream. Second, you can grow your business. That’s the order that works. Otherwise, you will reek of panic and neediness to everyone you come in contact with, which undermines your concept almost entirely.
KILLER IDEA #5: I’m All AloneYou are not the first person to try to go it alone, and you won’t be the last. But today, more individuals are trying business on their own than ever before – and they are failing at unprecedented rates too. The missing link is the idea of mentorship. Coaches need coaches, and healers need healers. Solopreneurs need the wisdom and leadership of other solopreneurs who have navigated the rapids of success and made it to the other side. Without it, the wisdom of experience cannot save you.The only person who is truly operating alone in this mind-bogglingly connected world is the one who chooses to be. There are lots of solopreneurs who have been where you are – and I am one of them. I promise, for the most part, it’s not as hard as it looks, if you have a plan, a focused customer base, a real set of expertise to share, and a tribe to help get you there. If you don’t know where to find your tribe, join some of us in The Soulopreneur Project.