This guest post was written by Jan Koch, a Restart Strategist who is passionate about transitioning from employment to entrepreneurship in order to restart your life.
Entrepreneurs who are just starting out all have a common obstacle to tackle. It’s what I call the “personal qualities paradox”: the fear of not being good enough – of not having what it takes to build a profitable business even though you know that you have the necessary skills to do it.
So many great ideas never become reality; their inventors don’t execute on them due to a lack of awareness of their personal qualities.
Before I actually started my first business, I had a hard time wrapping my head around becoming an entrepreneur.
I was scared of not being able to make money on my own, so I started my business on the side and kept the income from my full-time job.
While I built my business and got connected with like-minded entrepreneurs all over the world, I realized that it’s common among first-time entrepreneurs to not believe in themselves.
Even though they have the personal qualities, the right skills and a ton of talent to successfully execute their ideas, a lot of entrepreneurs shy away from taking the leap.
I think a lot of these feelings steam from our education and from how our society works.
Common Misconceptions in Our Society
There are numerous beliefs in our society that hold people back from implementing their natural talents in everyday life and from being the best they can be.
In our education we’re taught by our parents and by our teachers that we have to achieve at least mediocrity in all school subjects in order to move up.
We’re told, “Work on your weak subjects.“
We’re led to believe that we have to achieve at least mediocre grades to move up; therefore, we concentrate on getting those mediocre grades instead of focusing on what comes easy to us – our personal qualities.
The problem with this is, we don’t learn to focus on our strengths. Instead of embracing our true skills and talents, we’re working on our so-called weaknesses just to become as good as everyone else.
These types of learning processes usually aren’t too much fun. In fact, they actually feel painful when it comes to certain topics that we just can’t understand. It makes us feel stupid, which in turn puts our mind in a loop of negative thoughts. As a result, we don’t pay any attention to those things we’re excellent in.
However, if we actually start paying attention to growing our true skills, then we begin to stand out from the masses.
Some people will try to pull us back down to mediocrity so we can again start to focus on those topics we aren’t that great in; beware: this is only meant to discourage us.
The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. – Japanese proverb
And this is what I feared before I started my business. My goals where outstanding, much like the goals of most successful entrepreneurs. Yet I was afraid to stand out from the masses, even though I knew that I’d have to stand out in order to get where I wanted to be.
When you think about starting a business, there’s no way not to stand out from the masses, and that’s a good thing!
When you decide to take action, you’re automatically leading by example. Think of all those people out there who are also scared to start their business; once they see your business grow and hear your story, you’ll be an inspiration!
We’re also told, “You can become anything you want to be.“
While for some people this may be true, I believe it isn’t true for the vast majority of us.
Spending time on learning a new skill that doesn’t come easy to us most often feels exhausting and frustrating.
For example, I can’t paint a nice picture to save my life. Of course I could learn how to paint, but the process would take forever, or at least it would feel that way.
Instead, it’s much easier (and more enjoyable) for me to learn new technical stuff. Unlike suffering through painting, I enjoy spending time leveraging the opportunities technology gives me, and my personal qualities lend to the topic.
Several entrepreneurs tend to focus on learning new skills just because someone told them they need to do everything on their own. I made this mistake myself in the beginning, too.
When I was working as a web designer, I completed all of my projects myself without asking others for help. Those projects weren’t very profitable simply because it took me a long time to plan, design, code and set up the websites.
It wasn’t until I started leveraging other people’s skills that my web design projects became much more profitable.
It’s pretty straight forward: Seeing results in fields where you don’t possess much talent takes longer compared to someone who possesses that particular talent. We can’t be good at everything, meaning we don’t have to run our businesses all by ourselves.
Instead of desperately trying to acquire a skill that’s just not right for you, become aware of your personal qualities and concentrate on growing those.
It’s your personal qualities – your talents – that give you your competitive advantage.
Empowering your Strengths
You ARE good enough simply being who you are because your talents and your history make you unique.
When you build a business based upon your talents and your history, there’s a high probability that others (your target audience) will resonate with you.
Those people who have similar experiences or who face similar problems will feel a connection with you, making it likely that they’ll grow to know, like and trust you – and eventually, buy from you.
In order to build a profitable business, you need to focus on and believe in your strengths.
Once we become aware of – and start to utilize – our true strengths, we ARE all good enough simply by being who we are.
Think about the first day you entered the field you wanted to start your business in. What events happened in the past that allowed you to either grow your knowledge, gather practical experience or showcase your skills? Probably many.
This expertise only comes natural to you because you’re used to knowing what you know! But you’ve forgotten along the way how much work it actually took to gather your knowledge.
Remember to embrace your skills; others don’t know what you know!
There’s no reason to focus on things you aren’t good at, because those things will never be the foundation of your business.
There’s no need to spend time worrying about what you’re not good at, because you can get help from others and leverage their strengths.
And there’s definitely no reason to feel that you’re under qualified, because you’ll never feel 100% qualified and ready to start your own business!
Instead of worrying that you might be that nail standing out, embrace your strengths in order to stand out even further!
There’s no need to do everything on your own. You need to leverage other people’s expertise to see the maximum growth and success in your own business.
The final question you need to ask yourself in overcoming the “personal qualities paradox” is, “Are you willing to be the nail that stands out from the masses and that can’t be hammered down?”
Starting your own business will always put you in uncomfortable situations. But instead of being paralyzed by fear, you can choose to take action, crush those situations and IGNITE your business!