Sometimes, when I am watching Dragons' Den, panic washes over me. At first, it's for that person pitching, whose numbers don't make sense, whose business hasn't made any traction in months. I think to myself "Oh my goodness, I feel terribly...but how did this person think this was a good idea...why didn't someone stop them? Didn't they listen to their gut?"
And then, selfishly, the panic becomes about me. "What if I'm that person? If no one told her this was a bad idea, maybe no one will tell me? Maybe my gut is all wrong!"
When this happens, rather than becoming paralyzed by fear, I use some of the things I have learned watching Dragons' Den to help me trust my gut. Here are my 5 steps: :
You have a big decision (actually, any decision) to make - What's your gut reaction? Is your stomach gurgling and your heart racing? Do you think it's a good idea but… Are you extremely confident and ready to make things happen now? Write it down to make yourself accountable to your instincts. "I, Zoe, want to do this...or I, Zoe, do NOT want to do this." If you want to do it, proceed to step 2. If you don't want to do it, it's worth asking yourself why. If it's fear based, I would still move onto step 2, so you can walk away understanding the choice you made, and looking back with confidence. If it's because you don't feel passionate enough about the idea, in my experience, it's often best to move forward.
Work with a professional accountant or financial planner, or take the time to build some financial projections based on conservative estimates. Are you still comfortable with your business even if you only make the most conservative of your financials? If you can't live with only making your conservative numbers, you might need to walk away from this opportunity. Bottom line, we all have to make a living, and be comfortable with our livelihoods. While making the most money isn’t a top priority for everyone, making enough (whatever that means for you) is. Still feeling good about moving forward with this decision? Time to move on to Step #3.
Draft a business proposal for yourself. Work in the numbers, make it professional and look at your idea and vision closely on paper. Think to yourself, “Would someone else invest in this idea? Is it sustainable for my current business path? Can I stand up and present this to someone with pride? I question myself regularly, and instead of finding this to be negative, I find it keeps me sharp, and my business in motion. I ask myself, What would my parents say if I told them about this idea? If you’re still in doubt, reach out to someone who can have a read or listen to you pitch without being as close to the issue as you are. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh perspective to make you feel like you can still trust your instincts. Don't forget to look back at Step 1 and 2 to remind yourself of why you are here, trying to figure it out. It's worth it to figure it out! If you're still feeling confident that your instincts to do this are there, it's time to move on to Step 4.
While this learning moment doesn’t apply directly to me, I have seen this countless times on Dragon’s Den and in my daily work. If you’re working in a partnership, make sure you are both on the same page professionally, and are working towards common goals, and visions. Team cohesion, honesty and integrity are essential when you’re sharing a business, as we saw when interviewing entrepreneurs Annie & Angela this past fall.
When it comes down to the line, and you’re in decision making time - check your gut again; if you still feel that you just don't know what to do, it may be time to reevaluate… Start by looking at your priorities. Are you looking for record growth? New exposure on social media? Investors? Have a look at what you think are your most important priorities as an individual, and as an entrepreneur. This summer, we spoke with Elyse Sunshine on recognizing priorities, setting realistic goals, and knowing your limits.
Starting off as a Solopreneur, all you have are your gut instincts when making final, business changing decisions. I never forget how fortunate I am to have a support network around me, like my wonderful husband who has acted as a sounding board, IT support, and is one my biggest believers! Some of my biggest decisions have come from opening up to my support network, and to my team. While I always value input and advice or thoughts I receive on Skype or around the dinner table, I know final decisions and actions are always my call, and for that I now know after this first year of watching my business grow, that I can trust my intuition.
Through Schmooz Media, I am dedicated to sharing knowledge in the community, and would love to hear from fellow entrepreneurs interested in sharing their journeys. If you’re interested in contributing to a community where we learn from each other, and create a strong network, then my team and I would be delighted to share learning moments, success stories, challenges and triumphs. Just reach out to me at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org!
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