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OWNER'S MANUAL

Afraid to Go Solo? Read This Pep Talk

You're afraid you'll never live up to your grand ambitions, right? Here's how to get past your fears.

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“Entrepreneur” is a magical word, but for many aspiring business owners it can also be an intimidating word.

Think “entrepreneur” and who comes to mind? Depending on your generation, maybe Walton, Gates, Branson, and Bezos. Or maybe the famous firm of Brin, Dorsey, Hurley and Zuckerberg.

Or maybe just Jobs, since Steve transcends the generational divide.

Then again, instead of flashing on famous entrepreneurs your thoughts might drift to the opposite end of the spectrum. You might picture having to pull an endless string of all-nighters while living on Ramen noodles (the stereotypical breakfast, lunch, and dinner of entrepreneurial champions.) You might picture lean months and years of hardship and sacrifice as you struggle to create a business no one believes in but you... and sometimes, in your worst moments, not even you.

Either way, it’s a lot to live up to.

Some successful entrepreneurs feel they don’t live up to it. I know people who have built great businesses. Huge businesses. Massive businesses. But however bright they burn, in their hearts they still feel their light is lost in the glow of those who made greater sacrifices or who have accomplished even more.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re afraid to start a business because you feel you could never compare to the brightest entrepreneurial stars. Or maybe you shrink from the thought of having to work 24/7 towards a goal you may never accomplish.

Or maybe you think other people have some intangible entrepreneurial something—ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, etc.—you just don’t have.

If that’s the way you think, you’re wrong. Success is only inevitable in hindsight. It’s easy to look back on an entrepreneurial path to greatness and assume every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion.

It wasn’t. Success is never assured. Only in hindsight does it appear that way.

Besides, you’re already an entrepreneur. Entrepreneur is commonly defined as, “A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so.”

Hmmm. You organize your affairs. You take on financial risk. Even if you currently work for someone else you’re still an entrepreneur because you organize and operate the business of you.

So don’t measure yourself against others. Pick a goal and measure yourself against that goal. That’s the only comparison that ever matters.

And don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to try to be the next Zuckerberg. You can try to be something a lot better.

You can be the next you.

IMAGE: iStock/Amy Wilbanks Photography
Last updated: Dec 12, 2011

JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
@jeff_haden




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