Launching a company is definitely not easy. I tell friends and family that business owners are verging on crazy to even contemplate it, especially if their idea is something new or disruptive.
Anyone who’s starting a new business will inevitably have some gaps in their knowledge and skills, since business owners are required to act as salespeople, event managers, marketers, personal assistants, accountants and creatives, all rolled into one. This ‘jack of all trades’ reality is one of the reasons why many business owners also fall prey to the dreaded impostor syndrome.
But the truth is, even if we’ve never technically worked in sales, or put together an event, or managed our own taxes, we probably have at least some of the basic skills to do most of those things.
If we can learn to pack up our past experience and apply it in new and innovative ways, then we’ll be better prepared for whatever the new business will throw at us. However, the one thing we shouldn’t pack is any negative self-talk that makes impostor syndrome exist in the first place.
Bring your past with you
Strong, healthy relationships are one of the most important assets for any new business. Take the healthy ones you’ve developed with you — the ex-colleagues, clients and mentors you’ve met along the way who supported you. This will make you already halfway to building a successful business, especially if your new venture is in roughly the same industry.
A good reputation is also usually the result of building strong relationships with people. Are you a respected name within your business’ industry? Have you won a well-recognised award? Shout it from the rooftops. Allow your past reputation to follow you into your new company, whether that’s through website testimonials, business proposals, or simply through word of mouth.
And of course, don’t forget to take those key learnings from life with you — what you’ve learned from yourself and from others. This is an essential launchpad for starting any new business.
Test your talents
Have a think about all the skills you’ve picked up throughout your life, even if they seem like second nature. These don’t have to be recently acquired talents — in fact, the longer you’ve had them, the more useful they’ll be.
Even skills picked up in childhood can still be invaluable to adults trying to run a successful business. Talents that you might not even think of as necessarily business-focussed, like art or photography, can all help strengthen your all-important creative mind.
I used my own passion for photography and my background in tech, for example, to launch pixevety in 2012. I took those skills and used them to address the potential harm that the mismanagement of photos can have on children.
Throw some parts away, too
While bringing your past skills, relationships and experiences with you into a new business is clearly very important, it’s also essential to know which parts to leave behind.
Emotional anchors such as anger, fear and self-doubt should be left in the past. It might sound easier said than done, but it’s surprising how helpful a new project or business venture can be in turning over a new emotional leaf. Use your new start to rid yourself of the negative self-talk that may have held you back in the past, and let your new successes remind you of how far you’ve come.
Remember all those people I told you to bring with you? The opposite advice is true too if those people were not supportive in the end. If your previous life was filled with toxic people who never celebrated your successes, there’s absolutely no reason to keep them around. Watch out for people who come across as genuinely interested in you and your business, but are actually only staying nearby to make a quick buck or enjoy a free ride on your success.
Dump anyone who consistently doubts your ability to succeed, or enjoys mocking or revelling in your failures. Generally, these kinds of people are far more interested in making themselves feel better, thanks to their own crippling — but often well-disguised — self-doubt.
Bring your failures too
Business people are innovators, and true innovators are endlessly trying to improve on what’s come before, no matter the cost. However, it’s important to remember that true improvement isn’t possible without some failures along the way.
In fact, failure is not just a possibility, but is critical to business success. Don’t look at your past failures as something to leave behind, but as shining examples to proudly bring along for the ride.
Starting a new business is the perfect opportunity to assess where you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re headed. So make sure you use the chance to keep what’s working, and dump the baggage that’s holding you back. Your business will be healthier for it.