Like many bootstrappers, I take pride in making my own way. My co-founders and I built our startup Cuddlr from zero to quarter-million users to acquisition in 11 months with no outside backing. I self-published two of my three best-selling books, including The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur.  Everything connected to my new book Bring Your Worth is self-produced with my partners, from the theme song to the limited-edition mugs. My biggest accomplishments have been financed by me.

There is a price I pay, though. A price all of us bootstrappers pay. It is the constant fear of not surviving. And, for many of us, this persists well after our ramen-and-ketchup days. This mentality can do more damage than good.

Here's how you can help heal it.

Reminding yourself you are safe

On the new podcast Communal Table, Food & Wine Senior Editor Kat Kinsman and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat author Samin Nosrat explained it perfectly. Kinsman, talking on her lean days, breaks it down:

If you've ever been broke, then there is a hole that never heals.

Nosrat agreed, sharing that she's spent years "breaking the scarcity mindset". To bring context, Nosrat's book has been on the New York Times bestseller's list since 2017 and her new Netflix series of the same name is a big hit.  Kinsman is a senior editor at one of the strongest authorities in food, if not all media.

Presumably, Kinsman, Nosrat and I all fought hard to get to where we are today. But while scrappiness can help you in the beginning, sustained joy, and nevertheless success, comes from appreciating where you are.

Sometimes you do have everything on the line, but you have to recognize when you are really in danger versus when you just feel insecure. Ironically, making fight-or-flight decisions is more likely to create a loss, turning our fear into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You need to remember you are not always on the verge of losing everything.

What mattered a year ago?

Here's the problem: It's hard to reset our priorities for our current life. Entrepreneur Jason Mowatt recently captured it well:

I share a similar sentiment in Bring Your Worth:

That's when I know I'll get through it fine and, a year from now, I will not remember the circumstances of this all-consuming moment, if I remember it at all. I know I was in a financial bind exactly a year ago. I couldn't tell you its face, nevertheless its name.

Imagine if Jeff Bezos kept the same priorities and made the same decisions he made when his desk was made from 2 x 4s and an old wooden door? Or if Shonda Rhimes didn't view herself as a media mogul, but just a scrappy screenwriter trying to be heard?

We shouldn't mistake fear for prevention. Embrace where you are and have gratitude for where you are - new problems and all. It is the only way to maximize the resources you have today.

Published on: Mar 19, 2019
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