Is it a case of the ‘what ifs’ or something else?

I’ve discovered that developing new products for an employer is a completely different ball game to starting my own business.  I have a business idea, in fact I have several, but why am I struggling to make progress? I know what I need to do but I am I really struggling to get anything done.

I’ve come to the conclusion that fear is my barrier.

In order to get started, I need to gather my supporting insights. I need to:

  • validate assumptions about my users
  • build my user profiles
  • research and understand the competitors – direct and indirect


fear ahead

Rather than just get on with it, I’m sitting here writing a blog about it.  It’s clearly an avoidance technique.  Is it fear that is holding me back? What if no one wants to use the service I am offering? What if the market doesn’t exist? What if there are already lots of competitors? What if, what if, what if?

I am overwhelmed by the ‘what ifs’ and it is starting to drive me a little bit crazy.  If I am really honest about it, I truly believe there is a market for the service I want to deliver and there are few UK suppliers, if any (I have already done a bit of research) so what’s the real problem?

Do I fear failure?  Well no, because I have already said that this is very much my first project and I need to do it to learn from it.  So what exactly is my problem?

A lot of my anxiety is around starting an online business and the legalities and technicalities behind it. I did some research into starting an online business but I don’t feel the information is sufficient and I am not confident with what I have read. I think this is what I am truly avoiding. I need to speak to someone who has done this before, who can provide the advice I need to crack on, as this avoidance technique is hampering my progress.

Reaching out and asking for help

Some people have no problem asking for help, in fact a colleague of mine drives me insane as her first thought is always to ask someone else rather than to turn to her own internal ability. I, on the other hand, am used to being self-reliant.  I rarely rely on others for anything and this can hamper.  I recognise this as a weakness and is one I need to face head on if I am going to make progress faster.

There are so many different levels of fear, but fear is a good thing.  If I wasn’t aware of it, I wouldn’t know how to really challenge myself. I am therefore going to set myself a task of identifying potential mentors by mid September as I am going to require assistance in quite a few areas.  Asking for help is not a weakness but a necessity in growth and development.

My personal brand

This week I attended a workshop entitled “What’s your big idea” held by The Happy Startup School.  I’d registered to attend a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for networking opportunities without a BIG idea to hand.  At the time I thought it might be good just to go along and see who else was there and absorb.

A few days earlier, whilst at work, I was discussing a major barrier to future proofing the organisation and how this problem might be solved.  Thinking about that, I saw an opportunity – a startup opportunity, so I used that as my big idea.

I actually had another idea en route but that one is far more challenging.  In short, I am suddenly having ideas. Not lots, but some, and that’s a good start.  I feel alive. I haven’t felt this way for such a long time.

The workshop

The session was very practical and required a lot of brain work.  Despite the fact that I had previously covered some elements as part of my recent things to do, I still found it challenging because I was discussing it with someone rather than just working on my own and we were approaching it differently to how I’d previously covered the exercise.

One of the tasks was about identifying our values.  Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.  They should determine your priorities and deep down they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out as you want it to. Your values define your character.

They impact every aspect of your life:

  • Personal and work behaviours
  • Interaction with friends, family and colleagues
  • Decision making processes
  • The direction you take in life

We talked about Why, How, What.  Although I had done this before, I didn’t really appreciate its meaning until Carlos, our trainer, talked us through it.

I was interested in finding out more so I watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk  How great leaders inspire action.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

If you don’t stay true to your values, you are less likely to persevere.  You have to truly believe in what you are doing.

Who am I?

Why do I do what I do? My Vision and Mission

My vision is of a world where everyone has the power to create opportunities for themselves and to achieve their dreams.

My mission is to empower people by providing them with the skills they require to help themselves.

How do I do it? 


My values: collaboration, sustainability, honesty, accountability, Empowerment, ambition.

My behaviours: I am enterprising, resourceful, adventurous and solution focused.

What do I do?

I listen to other people’s goals and help them identify what skills they require to achieve their goals. But as I am a firm believer that you create your own fate, people need to be responsible for themselves.

Good things do not just happen; people need to want it and they have to take the right steps. I help them take those steps.

I have been doing this in everything I do. I’ve only just realised it. So this is who I am.

This got me thinking about My Big Idea and whether it fit with who I am. I think it does. Ultimately it is about enabling people to help themselves. I am therefore progressing this tennis ball.