Startup Playbook

Fear is nothing but a natural motivation

Wasn’t it the fear that made our ancestors climb off the trees, invent a spear and start selling their product to others? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not compelling you to start manufacturing weapons but… when you say you have no time or resources to launch your own startup – is it really the case?

Remember the last time you’ve been procrastinating about a task you considered to be challenging. You probably called yourself lazy again? It wasn’t laziness – it was the fear of not knowing how to tackle the task that paralyzed your activity.

Just sit and take your time making a list of what it was that made you afraid. Once the challenges are identified, it’s easier for you to find a way of dealing with them. If you are an entrepreneur taking your very first steps, fear of failure and lack of experience is likely to be among the problems. You’re not alone.

It’s surely onerous to quit a day job in order to dive into the unknown – entrepreneurial life with no guarantees at all – but let me show you an example of a woman who used her fear as the fuel for ambitions she had.

Can you imagine the world’s first billionaire author whose greatest fear was a failure? Or an author of the best-selling book series in history whose manuscripts were rejected by 20 publishers? If the name hasn’t appeared in your mind yet – it’s Joanne Rowling, the writer of the Harry Potter series.

While writing her first fantasy novel, Joanne, a middle-aged divorcee suffering from clinical depression, was far from even dreaming of becoming a writer. Beyond that, she had to feed her small kid on a state benefit while recovering from the loss of the mother. However, Rowling continued to raise her inner writer right until she found a publisher. Still, they recommended her to get a day job as no one expected the series to become such a breakthrough. I’ll just remind you that the final book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold an incredible eleven million copies in the first 24 hours.

Reflecting on the fear of failure that has haunted her all her life, she says:

It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

Now let’s get back to business. You might think something like “Well, she was talented enough to write those series and I still lack entrepreneurial expertise”. The anxiety of having no digital skills and experience in managing a startup is very justified. But do you actually need to know everything to make your first steps? The answer is ‘no’. As modern life is all about continuous learning, there’s no shame in seeking help, advice, and knowledge.

Take the challenges as they come and introduce yourself to learning by doing. Be humble, set lower expectations, and focus on the result. That’s the key to translating your fears into the source of enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, a great majority of women give up their startup ideas mainly because they’re feeling too small and unskilled in the demanding business world. That’s why we came up with Fe/Male Switch, a startup game for future female entrepreneurs that allows you to “fail up” by getting entrepreneurial experience in a virtual environment. Make sure you won’t miss the chance to create your own female-founded startup and break down the stereotypes on female entrepreneurship by your own example!