STARTUP

"Am I Crazy?"

Mark Peter Davis, co-founder of social media start-up Kohort, discusses the best way an entrepreneur should face the moment he asks this question.
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We entrepreneurs are told to listen to feedback, but ignore the naysayers. Listen and evolve, but remain steadfast and focused? We should hear while not listening?

Somewhere between the positive and negative reactions you'll receive from a litany of self-proclaimed soothsayers, you'll find the future lives within the crystal ball. If you can ignore the noise, however, the hundred-million-dollar question remains: "Is the vision in your mind's eye the same as the reality forecast?" In other words, "Are you crazy?"

You might be. And, you probably know that. Most entrepreneurs fail; few succeed. 

Every entrepreneur is faced with a moment of self-doubt when they ask themselves: "Am I crazy?". The moment isn't novel, although few will admit having asked the question for fear of validating the opinions of skeptics, of appearing weak or, even worse, being wrong.

I think this moment of "weakness" is actually an opportunity to gain strength. When the devil and angel perched atop your shoulders begin swirling arguments into your ears, deciphering which argument is truth and which is delusion can be nearly impossible. This moment of vulnerability, of uncertainty, is your opportunity to retest the assumptions you had previously baked, consumed, and forgotten. It's your chance to test your idea out again. It's your chance to re-evaluate your current trajectory and evolve or charge ahead.

Don't miss this moment. Don't pass it off as weak nerves. Compartmentalizing assumptions, truly ignoring new information is a weakness. Embracing and engaging questioning will make you stronger.

Re-ignite Sherlock's pipe, settle into the moment, and get logical. Outline the assumptions that must be true for your business to succeed. Use your nerves as fuel for skepticism. Pressure-test each assumption, crossing off those that you believe you know to be true. Then zoom into the assumptions where there might be more holes. Mind the gaps and create ways to fill them.

These moments may not yield support for your existing thesis, but that's okay—it's your chance to forgive yourself for being wrong and see with clear eyes how you need to adjust.

The best entrepreneurs aren't those who stubbornly pursue a course of action based on what they think they know. The best entrepreneurs are those who can let themselves be vulnerable enough to question, evaluate, and redirect.

Last updated: Jun 16, 2011




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