The following is a guest post from Teachable creator, Darnell Brown. Darnell is an award-winning certified brand strategist and educator and the founder of Bulletproof Hustle. He helps today’s leaders and experts save time and impact lives through brand clarity, empathy, and strategy. His clients include BAND-AID, Passport Parking, & /dev/color. In honor of Teachable’s Creator Month, in which we celebrate and share the expertise of creators everywhere, Darnell shares his tips for how to stop holding yourself back.
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No one needs to tell you that you’re hungry. You already know when you are. You feel it in your gut. You get a specific hunger pain that grows in your belly the longer you deprive it of nourishment.
Launching a business is like feeding an irrepressible desire to eat. Starting a new enterprise satisfies a craving to do something more aligned with your values, ideas, and skills than whatever it is you’re currently up to.
Entrepreneurship derives from being unfulfilled in our current profession or workplace. We bet on ourselves because of an unmet hunger.
Yet, most of us wait far too long and for too much confirmation before we leap into the unknown. So, how do we stop holding ourselves back from launching a business?
The following five shifts have been working wonders for me since 2008, even though I still feel like I’m just getting started.
5 steps to stop holding yourself back
Adopt a new story
Our aptitude for success begins with our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities. We remain at jobs we hate, for pay that sucks, to fund a life of little enjoyment because we don’t think we’re worthy of anything better.
However, the tide changes when we silence demotivating thoughts and turn up the volume on the support all around us. Some folks in your life genuinely wish for your success. They know you were built for more since day one, and need you to set that example they can follow. Others are ready to pay you for your business idea or connect you with referrals to amplify it further.
Those are the voices and actions of people we must recall in adopting a new story to believe. So much of my confidence today can be traced back to the praise I got for drawing portraits of my classmates in middle school rather than anyone who thought my work was whack, even though it probably was!
Risk tolerance is one of the biggest impediments to starting and sustaining entrepreneurship. Limiting our proximity to chance increases our odds of success and follow-through. With proper safeguards in place, we tolerate risk more than we would without them.
Unless you’ve got three to six months of financial runway stowed away to cover your household expenses, you’ll want to devote a portion of your weekly bandwidth to a reliable income magnet that isn’t too taxing on your time or energy.
Odd jobs, day jobs, side hustles, freelance gigs, nest eggs, savings accounts, and affiliate commissions are all fantastic safeguards. I’ve used them at one point or another to minimize the inherent risk of launching a business and to keep the bills paid. This freed up my creativity to use my more active mind for marketing my services.
When I started as a freelance graphic designer in 2008, I got a second job as a fast food delivery driver. It brought in daily, dependable cash flow. My manager knew upfront that my absolute priority was growing my design business and that my role there was temporary and by choice. And honestly, we both knew I was way overqualified for that job anyway. Ironically, this made him value my time even more because of the respect that candor like that demands.
Emulate the greats
No idea is completely original. And chances are that someone has already tried and succeeded at whatever it is you’re considering. We can find solace in knowing that even the uncharted territories were designated by those who are just a bit further than us. By those who are now where we wish to be.
Do your due diligence. Research how the legends in the game got to where they are. Learn what they thought when they first got started. Understand how they overcame the adversities they were up against that stopped them dead in their tracks. Use their anecdotes as footprints and opportunities to jumpstart your business. Then take things further.
I love discovering analogous stories about and from those that are outside of my industry. For instance, I look to cats like Michael Jackson to improve my stage presence for online courses. I study Christopher Nolan for his storytelling ability through filmmaking. I learn persuasion techniques from Daniel Pink and disciplinary styles from watching Stephen Curry practice dribbling and shooting. These lessons get thrown into a gumbo pot, and I apply what I unearth to improve my growth strategy and empathy offerings.
Get some help
All successes in business happen because a few good people came together under a common cause. There are no self-made entrepreneurs. Every single one of us stands on the shoulders of giants, and every success story you’re inspired by prevailed due to the efforts of many.
Knowing how and when to relinquish control is one of the big puzzles of entrepreneurship. However, it’s an essential business pillar most of us wish we’d acted on sooner. There’s a saying: “Do what you do best and hire the rest.” For all the stuff you dislike, are not good at, or don’t have time for, devote resources to bringing support on board to handle it.
We kneecap our growth by taking on too many responsibilities that others are better equipped for and happy to do. I know all too well what it’s like to try and do everything for my business by playing the bookkeeper, accountant, promoter, marketer, and copywriter. As soon as you have the resources or inclination to ask for help, make that a priority. A support system including staff and/or subcontractors is worth the investment.
Take the leap
Imagination is more important than intelligence, and actions are more vital than ideas. At a certain point, we all have to part with the plans and strategies and just go for it. Experience teaches us so much of what we need to know. Even the results we gain come secondary to our efforts and habits.
Make feedback the goal when launching your business. Whether you soar or plummet, you have to jump first. Whether you fly or fall, that’s feedback all the same. Failure is just feedback. Even no feedback is feedback because it implies no one cared enough to comment. A business (ad)venture is one big everlasting learning opportunity, and what we learn, we can apply.
Whenever I’m afraid to leap into the unknown, I remember that everything I seek is on the other side of what I fear. I needn’t be fearless; it’s OK to be scared. But the only way to use that fear to serve my interests is to lean into it, and recognize that the worst that will happen is that I’ll learn a valuable lesson. Plus, it’s bigger than me. Someone out there now or in the future will build upon the exact feedback I get today. If I can’t do it for myself, I do it for them.
Launching a business can be a frightening prospect. But that fear must not outweigh your agency and time in favor of faux job security at a place you don’t even like all that much. Be more afraid of continuing to live that life than you are of betting on yourself for once.
Bet on yourself
Follow the five lessons above consistently for every professional endeavor you take, and you’ll unquestionably get out of your own way. Only a portion of you reading this article made it this far. Those that have just a fraction of you will actually apply these tips. By doing so, you’ll be within the 50% of (small) businesses still operational five years in. So don’t hold yourself back any longer. Fulfill your hunger.