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Let’s face it. The first step is always the hardest. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, start graduate school, or learn how to play guitar. It’s that first step that leaves us feeling awkward, inadequate, and questioning our conviction. Taking that first step toward entrepreneurship is no different. We question our business skills, product performance, and financial competency. The dreaded, “what if I can’t do it?” question creeps into our daily thoughts. We start reasoning that it might be better to “just wait another year.”
These fears are extremely common and unfortunately well founded. Reports show that as much as 50% of all new start-ups fail within the first year. That is not exactly encouraging odds. However, we all have a choice when it comes to creating our destiny. We can use statistics like these to confirm our business’s certain death, or gain confidence from the fact that you could be part of the 50% that become a success. In the famous words of Zig Ziglar, you just have to eliminate your “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”.
One of the tools I use to overcome my fears is mind mapping. It’s a terrific tool that can help you isolate the source of your fears, bring much needed perspective, and help brainstorm solutions to your sticking points. There are several “mind mapping” tools out there and many are free to use. I prefer to use the tool by Wisemapping since it’s free, allows me to add notes and web links, and I can publish or share the completed map.
To demonstrate my fear mind mapping strategy, I’ve created an example below.
First, I outline my top fears associated with starting the business. I then brainstorm how I can overcome those fears. My final step will be answering those questions. My goal is to find a positive solution to each of the questions I’ve asked. For example, for the question, “Can I reduce my startup costs with outsourcing?” I would research potential manufacturing possibilities until I could answer the question with a “yes.” If I can’t find a way, I then brainstorm ways to overcome the obstacle. A “no” isn’t necessarily bad, it just means you need to tweak your business plan to compensate for this reality. Try to be as thorough and honest as possible with your mind map. The goal is to solve your sticking points on paper before you’ve invested your time and money. I use this tool regularly for many of my business decisions including product launches, partnership agreements, and even potential marketing opportunities.
It’s amazing what this simple exercise can do for your confidence level. You are no longer living in fear of the unknown. Instead, you are on a mission with a powerful road map to your business’s success.