Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

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Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

1 Overcoming self-doubt

It is perfectly normal to have doubts about starting out on your own, especially if you are giving up a steady income working for someone else who takes the decisions and the risks for the uncertainty of working for yourself. These doubts often become magnified by being on your own. One thing to remember is that many other people have done this successfully.

Activity 1 is designed to help you gain perspective that may help you to move forward with more confidence. It may even uncover challenges or opportunities that you have been unable to see as you have become too close to your business idea.

Activity 1 Overcoming barriers

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes
  1. Fill in Table 1, using the guidance below.
    • List all the problems or obstacles you see that are preventing you from moving forward in the first column.
    • In the middle column, look at each challenge in turn from the left-hand column and write down all the possible alternative solutions you can think of to overcome them.
    • The third column is for use in Step 3 so you do not need to focus on it at this stage.

Table 1 Addressing the problems in your business idea

Problems/obstaclesAlternative solutionsDiscussion
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  1. Show your list to another person. Explain the challenges and your solutions to them. There are three possible outcomes:
    • By explaining the barrier, you might begin the process of solving it.
    • The other person may actually be able to solve it.
    • Any suggestions they make may spark some new idea or thinking.
  1. Now return to the first column. From your deliberations, do any of these challenges now seem more like an asset or opportunity you could exploit? If so, capture this in the third column.

Working on your own, perhaps even in your own home, can feel quite isolating, and even more so if you have been used to working as part of a larger team. One way to sustain yourself is to build a network of people and involve them in some way with your idea – as sounding boards, advisers, prospective users or customers, mentors or partners. To do this, you will need to build your network of contacts. Earlier in the course you were introduced to the concept of co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators. These provide one way of reducing your isolation and increasing your working network amongst others in a similar position.

Now listen to our entrepreneurs discuss the ups and downs they have experienced and how they have overcome any feelings of doubt in their ability to succeed.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1
Skip transcript: Video 1 Overcoming feelings of doubt

Transcript: Video 1 Overcoming feelings of doubt

EMMA PRINCE:
I'd say every six weeks to two months, I suddenly look at everything that we're trying to do and all the plates I'm spinning and thinking, oh, I need to do this, and I need to do that. And my to-do list is, like, this long. And I think, oh, god, can I do it? But when you read the feedback from the children that we're working with, and when you hear from the schools that have seen the positive impact of that, that really helps, because it puts everything into perspective.
And actually we're doing this, my team and I, because we genuinely care about what's out there. And that comes with its own emotions, because we're also passionate about what we're doing. And I think it's incredibly important to have people around you that can be supportive and can lend an ear if you just need to vent. I found it really, really helpful talking to other small business owners, because as a small business, there are particular sets of challenges that are quite unique, because it generally all rests on your shoulders. So definitely talk to other people, because that's been really helpful for me, who are in the same boat as you.
CLAUDIO MARTURANO:
The reality is, like most people, especially from the Open University, or educated people, I had a sense of arrogance about myself. I thought, of course I'm going to succeed. I've got experience in the field. I've got my education. I've got ways to get through it. Then, when you actually start planning everything, you realise that you don't have all the answers. And that's very important, especially from an entrepreneur stage. You have to realise that you don't have all the answers.
And so, for me, the main thing was just to go and ask-- ask for help, ask for advice, ask everybody, and my wife, the Open University, the Scottish Government. There was a lot of advice coming from a lot of places, which has really benefited me. And that now is actually helping me to succeed, is helping me having the mindset that actually now I can actually sustain something, because I have a network of people that I can go to for help. And that's very important, especially at the early stage of entrepreneurship, is to have a network of people that you can go to for support.
ALEX BOND:
Well, you doubt yourself in one moment, and then you're elated the next. And you just have to trust in each other. I mean, obviously people are sometimes found on their own, and that can be amazing. But for me, it's been so useful to have partners going through the same experience as me so that we can discuss how stressed we are and keep that doubt at bay.
NICK ALLEN:
Yes, we doubt ourselves most weeks, I think is the reality of it. You have ideas, and you try and follow them. And you get knock-backs from time to time, and it throws you off. However, we have a really good partnership, my wife and I, with the creative balance against the more structural financial balance. One of us always picks the other one up. So whoever's up, it's their job to keep us moving forwards. So for us as a small business, it works incredibly well. We just let the other one push on for a while and wait until we're both on the same page again.
That having been said, in the early days, it's a very bumpy journey. Working and setting up a business with your wife is not for everyone. We are very lucky that we have a very strong and solid relationship, because you definitely need it at times. It is very tough. You find yourself trying to change direction with things, trying to find something that works in terms of financial benefit but also works in terms of the creative outlet. And there's a real conflict there. So we had to get through those conflicts.
However, now that we're in our third year, I think we have come to a good landing on how we need to help each other. And it mainly revolves around me listening a lot more and talking a lot less.
End transcript: Video 1 Overcoming feelings of doubt
Video 1 Overcoming feelings of doubt
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Reflection

Having listened to our entrepreneurs, do you share any of their doubts? What strategies might you pick for yourself to help overcome the challenges that threaten to derail you?

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Next you will look at how bringing people onboard with your business venture can be an important part of sustaining it.

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