You’ve got a brillant new idea for a toy that is sure to be the next must-have. Or you believe you have an entirely new twist on a concept that might just make for a great business. But you’re hesitant to take the plunge because starting a new venture is perilous work.
It’s no wonder that knowing where to start — how to build a prototype, how to market your product, etc. — can seem so intimidating. One thing that differentiates successful startups from unsuccessful ones? The right advice and the right tools.
But wait, let’s talk about advice. People are going to give you advice. And to be honest, we need to figure out whether some of that advice is actually useful. It has nothing to do with our belief in a person’s drive, their mission, or even their success. It by no means means that we don’t support someone or don’t care for their wants and dreams. It has everything to do with perspective.
No matter how good our intentions may be, our advice for others will always be jaded by our own experiences, values, and goals. We tend to put things in our own perspective to try to understand the decision someone else is making. So when a friend, family, colleague, or anyone else asks us for advice (or just tells us about their dreams without soliciting advice — because let’s be honest, we know we are still going to give it), our advice is biased by our own lives.
And when you start listening to some of this crappy advice, you let the following reasons deter you from pursuing your dreams:
1) Because there is an easier, safer path.
As Jim Carrey says in his now famous commencement speech, “The decisions we make in this moment… are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path our of fear disguised as practicality.” We rationalize, justify, and persuade ourselves into making the decisions that “make the most sense” — which is often our way of hiding the fact that we are just too darn scared to take a risk on something. Because, we might just fail at it.
2) Because we’re waiting for the right time.
If it’s not now, how will we ever know when the “right” time is? If we sit around waiting for the right time, we will spend the rest of our lives waiting. So many of us brush it off by saying we will pursue our dreams someday. Well I’ve got some unfortunate news for you guys. “Someday” isn’t a day at all.
3) Because we don’t have enough time.
We have lives, jobs, families, and plenty of other responsibilities. We don’t have “enough” time to pursue our dreams. I hate to say it again, but “enough” is also not a real time. I’ve never heard of anyone who has “enough” time.
Make it. Start small. Find a new hobby that you love. We need to re-prioritize the things that make us happy, the things we love, and find the time to pursue them.
4) Because we didn’t succeed at first.
We don’t all have what it takes to make it.
Says who? Ever hear of Mark Cuban? Well, he started off as a bartender after college before landing a sales job — which he was then fired from a year later. What about Oprah Winfrey? She was fired from her first job as a television anchor in Baltimore. You may have also heard of someone named Walt Disney. Disney was fired by his editor at a newspaper for “lacking imagination.” You know what all of these people didn’t do? Give up.
5) Because we are too young.
Evan Spiegel founded Snapchat. At 23 years old, he turned down a $3 billion cash offer from Facebook. Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss started Rent the Runway in 2009 while they were still in college. They now have over $54 million in funding. Erik Finman invested a $1,000 gift in Bitcoin and walked away with $100,000 fortune. He then used that money to start Botangle, an online platform for education.
So then my question to you is: How young is too young?
6) Because that’s not what I’m supposed to do.
Again, says who? No one knows what you need except you. At the end of the day, we’re all a product of the decisions we have made. Your friends aren’t going to look back on their life and regret a decision you didn’t make. So why do we let so many other decide what we should and shouldn’t do? Your dreams are your own, and your decision on what to do about them should be as well.
7) Because there’s already something else out there.
Remember, MySpace? We vaguely do too. The age of the Top 8 has long since been replaced by the Like. Facebook didn’t invent social media. Mark Zuckerberg just found a way to do it better.
8) Because all you have is an idea.
This is where most people stop. How many of us have stayed up late brainstorming like crazy, writing down all of these great ideas, and then never thought of them again? We sure have. There’s something extremely exciting about dreaming up your wildest thoughts. And there’s absolutely no risk involved. It’s taking those ideas and executing them that involves the risk, and hence, why so little of them ever move beyond idealization.
9) Because you trusted a lot of crappy advice over your own instincts.
People will always have their opinions; that’s inevitable. And like we said before, much of this crappy advice doesn’t come from a negative place – more often than not it’s from those who care about you. By nature we want to protect those we care about, and sometimes that means we give really crappy advice. The funny thing is, though, that many times when we’re asking for advice, all we’re really seeking is validation. We know what we want to do, but we don’t all consider our gut a trusted advisor. So we ask others. And when we don’t get that validation that we need, we doubt. We rationalize. We reconsider. We name one of the eight reasons above to brush off our idea as just another crazy whim.
Trust your gut.
Believe in yourself enough to turn your ideas into more than mere words. Stop listening to everyone else’s excuses why you won’t make it and decide instead to prove them all wrong.
Thanks Joel for inspiring this post.