When I launched my first business in 2007 I was so excited but I was also scared sh!tless! I turned to my friends and family for encouragement and every time I did something new I sent them links asking them to like, share, join or vote for me.
Since then I’ve launched two other businesses and again I turned to family and friends to help promote and support my start-up activities. The people closest to me were excited and generously gave their time and advice whenever I needed it. Their support gave me comfort by knowing that if I failed, my world outside of the business would still be there for me. That failure would not be the end of everything.
In 2013, as I launch www.trudymurphy.com and a new series of training products for entrepreneurs, I’m reflecting on how much I’ve learnt over the years. It’s clear that I’ve found my confidence as I now see promotions targeting family and friends as a waste of my time and theirs and, by business #4, I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted their generosity too.
In this article, I’m in no way saying you shouldn’t ask your friends for help, but I do strongly believe you can actually sabotage your start-up efforts when you rely too heavily on your personal support network. There’s two main ways this can happen.
1. You inadvertently prolong the start-up phase
Starting a business can be overwhelming and lonely, so naturally you turn to your confidantes for advice and to bounce your ideas around. The problem is, if your friends have zero business experience either, quite frankly, your guess is as good as theirs. So sometimes the chats help to clarify ideas in your mind as you talk, but often you walk away with no clear action or direction and you've wasted time you don't have in the start-up phase. But that's not your friend's fault, it's yours, because you've chosen to struggle rather than seek out great mentors.
If you want to go from A to B in the quickest, least painful way possible, talk to someone who’s already gone from A to B before you.
2. You don’t fail fast enough
If you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank, you’ll have noted that one of the first questions an investor asks is “How much have you sold to date?” It makes me sad to watch some of the pitches on these shows where people have sold everything they own to invest in prototypes and ideas, but they haven’t tested the market or sold a single unit to a customer.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many friends think your idea is awesome, if strangers won’t buy it, you don’t have a business. The faster you get your product or service to market, the faster you will succeed and grow, or fail and recover. Either scenario is better than going bankrupt from holding onto an idea for too long.
As good as it feels to know your loved ones support your crazy entrepreneurial dreams, nothing is more confidence building than earning revenue and praise from complete strangers who love your ideas too. So push outside your comfort zone and get your business out there in front of as many people as you can, it’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.
You dreamed of this lifestyle, now be brave and live it!
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and advice in the comments below and if you have a friend that could benefit from reading this article, please share it with them now.