For an entrepreneur, what-ifs can be paralyzing. You're investing your time, money, and soul into something that involves a lot of risk. Worrying about what may go wrong is natural, but it can also hinder your success.
There will be a lot of sleepless nights. You'll have moments of doubt. The trick is knowing which unknowns you have control over so you can confront them and move on quickly.
Here are some common what-ifs entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them:
1. What if no one buys into my concept?
One of the most common reasons startups don't succeed is because there's no need for its products or services. A 2014 CB Insights study found that 42 percent of startups that fail do so because of a lack of market need.
It doesn't matter how great you think your idea is, if no one else agrees, your company is dead before you even start. That's why you need to do some experimentation before you try to get off the ground.
Look into who your competitors might be, your production costs versus what people are willing to pay for your product, and how large your target market actually is. Knowing that information will help you create a stronger business plan based on a solid and tested idea.
2. What if we run out of money?
A poorly structured startup will hemorrhage money. Things will always cost more than you expect. The best thing you can do is make your business as lean and agile as possible.
That means getting things going quickly. After all, there's no way to start replenishing your budget until you go to market. Every 'i' does not need to be dotted, nor every 't' crossed. Features can be added later and new products can wait. Just get to the point where you have the basics established and make adjustments after you launch.
You also need to focus on eliminating waste. For example, the company I founded, Coplex, uses what we call the Coplex Lean Process to help our clients get their apps off the ground quickly. We run experiments to validate hypothesis' and then collect real user feedback to determine what gets built and when. That allows us to spend time and money more efficiently by focusing on building what we know the customers will actually use.
3. What if disagreements tear the team apart?
Creating a startup is a collaborative effort. Whether you have a co-founder, a vocal IT guru, or hands-on investors, there will be other people with opinions about what you should do every step of the way. And they may not always agree with you.
When that happens, the important thing is to remember what the team shares: a dedication to the company. Everyone wants the startup to succeed. As long as you all keep that in mind when things get heated, you can objectively look at the situation and pick the right course of action.
And if that doesn't work, make sure there's a clear hierarchy of who has the final say when a decision can't be made quickly: you.
4. What if I make a mistake?
You will. Even experienced entrepreneurs have missteps when getting a business off the ground. No one can predict what challenges are going to pop up when running a startup. There will be problems with production, websites will go down, and investors will back out. It's how you handle your mistakes that make the difference.
Will you let things get to you? Or will you stay cool-headed and find a way to recover? If you spend too long dwelling on mistakes rather than learning from them, you won't make it as an entrepreneur.
With every big decision you make, have a backup plan ready in case things go awry. That will help you rebound quickly and move on to your next chance to screw up.
Being an entrepreneur can be terrifying. But that's also what makes it so exhilarating. You have to look your worries and doubts straight in the face and walk right past them. If you don't, you're only holding yourself back.
What are some other what-ifs that entrepreneurs have to overcome? Share in the comments below!