Admitting you’re unprepared, or out of control, is just something our survival instincts don’t do so well.
But when real life experts (the people who have done the thing that you’re considering doing) are nearby, they automatically lend a hand or a word of advice. You don’t need to ask for help or realize that you even need help, because they know. This village mindset is easy to find when you have a baby because chances are, you know at least a few people who have done this before you. They know it’s hard. They know that if you’re anything like them, you’ll need some help but won’t know how to ask. Finding your words, much less your needs when brand new to something significant is something most experienced parents can sense, and usually find a way to step in before you realize how badly the help is needed.
This same notion is very much real in birthing a business, except it’s not often you happen to know so many experts. And if you do, they’re often busy tending to their 24/7 creation. But the truth is, you need them. You really do. Not just for the feeling of being overwhelmed, but for figuring out that you’ll figure it out. And hopefully for offering a little sage wisdom to at least get you past the breakers for a while. The tides of new business are constant. You get to enjoy some and some, well they get to make you stronger.
When I started my first business, I had a lot of confidence that I could figure it out because I had a newly-minted MBA where I studied entrepreneurs who were once in my same shoes. I was poised, because I networked early and met a lot of good people. I was prepared (so I thought) because the universe was friendly and had begun putting people in front of me who wanted to help and get in on the idea. That quickly fell to the wayside when I realized there were SO MANY things to figure out. I would probably be able to leverage one of the above if it there was just one uncertainty at a time. But I had a lot… and i needed a lot of advice. The worst part was that I had such a unique concept that even in my network I couldn’t find someone who had done what I had done and their advice was limited.
The good news was that the larger my village, the more okay I felt just navigating the unknown. The more people I knew in business, the more stumbling blocks and lessons they had to learn to get to where they were. Some of the the questions that COULD be answered could be pieced together with that of other stories and takeaways. My unique concept, which at times felt like a burden, turned out to be an asset for me because I had created a support system that provided security and reassurance when I needed it the most. It also reminded me that with a little help, the answer was only a few conversations away, either through referring solutions or through sounding boards that allowed me to talk aloud until I found comfort. After a while, I began to trust myself, that I could figure it out, and knew that if I needed my village they would be there. That amount of safety is worth gold when carrying the weight of all the newness and uncertainty when starting a business. Just like starting out with a real baby.