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Startup lesson #07: You will never feel 'ready'

Lessons from 100 days of starting my own business

Human beings are creatures of comfort. Doing new things often feels uncomfortable, and most people therefore tend to avoid putting themselves in new or difficult situations, because doing things that are familiar feels less unpleasant. We run away from our fears, or ignore them. But if we listen to our fear every time we want to try something new, we end up really holding ourselves back.

Some examples of when we choose to actively make progress and confront these feelings of fear are as follows:

  • Leaving a job
  • Starting a business
  • Asking for a promotion at work
  • Asking someone for something
  • Having kids

With anything worth having, your task is to balance the risk vs. reward.

You have to behave like an entrepreneur before you can become one. Just like you need to behave like a parent before you have kids, or practically be doing a job above your level before you qualify for promotion. The concept ‘Fake it till you make it’ is absolutely true.

Running alongside this, however, is also something called ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Imposter syndrome is when you feel underqualified to be doing what you’re doing. You feel you lack credibility or expertise.

Everyone experiences Imposter Syndrome at some point in their life. The difference between people who we consider 'successful' and those who we consider less so, is often just the impression they project. Successful entrepreneurs experience this too. The difference is, they just get on and do things before they feel ready.

When I joined Escape The City's Startup Tribe programme in July 2016, I was super guilty of not 'owning' my entrepreneurship. I didn’t feel ready to call myself an entrepreneur. I even started a blog called ‘Wantrepreneur’, acknowledging the fact that I felt underqualified to call myself an entrepreneur: I felt like a ‘wannabe entrepreneur’, and was uncomfortable with the idea that others might assume that I thought of myself as a success, just by labelling myself with this word.

I experience Imposter Syndrome all the time. I've begun to realise that I put things off when they feel hard, often without even realising it. Whenever I need to hustle or up my game, I have to push through these invisible barriers of the comfort zone and do things that the former me just wouldn't have done.

I would love to be able to speak with confidence about myself as an entrepreneur, but for the time being, I'm just working on building this business one step at a time. When I've proven to myself that I can make this work, perhaps then I'll feel more like I own this label.

In the 14 months since quitting my job and starting out down this entrepreneurial path, there have been so many things that I've had to do, for which I simply didn't feel 'ready'. But every time I have done those things, I've accelerated my business and my entrepreneurial mindset in ways that I hadn't expected. My comfort zone has been expanded, and the next step hasn't seemed quite so huge.

So, in the words of Richard Branson: We have to 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.

I'm Claire Ransom, and I'm a writer and business owner. I founded Lazy Flora, a garden-in-a-box delivery company, in February 2017. This blog post is part of a series on things I learnt during 100 days of starting my own business.

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