I love the term ingredients. It sounds delicious and smooths out the rough sound of technical terms. Growing a startup needs a lot of ingredients, and if you’re looking from the entrepreneur’s point of view, the list of them should be generous. I mean, there are so many ingredients that can set you up for success or failure that a seasoned founder becomes a complicated dish.
Growing a Startup Is a Mindset Game
Since my orientation is the mindset, we won’t talk about paperwork and bureaucracy. Those are must-haves, unavoidable, fixed stuff without differentiating you as much.
But your mindset will because it gives you all those trump cards which can set you apart as a successful company or another failed one in the bunch.
While going through multiple startups myself, I must say that I went through all those dark roads like most entrepreneurs. If not all. There are several tips and tricks about entrepreneurship and how you can have a promising journey.
This time though, I want to point out the number one skill I’ve learned during all these years that I consider the biggest strength to have as soon as possible. I must warn you that, if you are young, it can be challenging for you. But if you integrate this into your mindset, you’re up to something amazing.
The Power Ingredient to Growing a Startup
Let’s name this power ingredient the saffron of entrepreneurship. It’s called thick skin.
That’s right! I cannot imagine anything more important to me than this. You can handle pretty much anything if you have your thick skin developed. It’s your all-in-one waterproof ally for any startup situation.
Why is that?
Any startup is like a complex puzzle. You can see the final picture, but you still need to connect the parts. Right?
When you start the startup journey or any phase during the process, you have infinite things to do, handle, and overcome. Going through all those steps where, to your max frustration, not all are in your power, you need to be prepared to handle crazy turns daily.
Then you need to find and blend the right team that has the potential to enable your dream to come true. Afterward, you need to set up an infrastructure and a rhythm for growth. You are a creator of a complex machine that can work in good order. Otherwise, you’re just an adventurer, and your startup is a jungle. It can eat you up pretty soon.
Let’s name some of the challenges. Shall we?
Your perfect timing for each step faces setbacks that are independent of you. Papers are not ready in time, you miss details no one mentioned. You’re envisioning the final part, where you’re heading, but you’re struggling with details that were never even in your mind.
The road gets longer, and you lose yourself in peculiar tasks. You’re doing things you don’t want to do and soon realize that growing a startup is nothing like in books. Even if you’re not a first-time founder, you realize that every venture is unique.
You do have help, but those meant to do their part are not involved as you do, so for them, nothing is an emergency. It isn’t their company. So? It is time to step up your leadership.
Same with the initial dream team. You are driven to find the best people and create that envy-looking culture. As an optimist by nature, you want to see the good in all people. You’ll soon discover that finding the right fits has nothing to do with CVs, talent, or skill. It’s a sophisticated matching of several ingredients.
They need to share the same values; otherwise, they’ll become a liability. Starting over with new employees and learning from your mistakes is not an easy pie. You do it anyway. Some sooner, some delaying the agonizing moment.
All these hustles wear you out, and you get further apart from your dream. All these are exhausting. There are moments when you forget why you are doing this. Those are the real struggles of a founder at the beginning. This beginning can last longer than expected.
Extras for First-Time Founders
If you are a first-time founder with a fresh startup, no one acknowledges you like a big shot. So you’re not important to anyone. At least, this is how you feel a lot of the time. And so you face attitudes, humiliation, smiles behind your back.
People who don’t share your vision don’t understand it. You’re being ridiculed, sometimes by your close friends and/or family. Even your new employees are acting like they are all God. How embarrassing. Right?
You didn’t prove anything yet. You’re just starting. And seeable improvements are nowhere around soon enough to rescue you. Can you see why many businesses fail before they start?
But that’s no wonder because the school doesn’t teach you how to become an entrepreneur. If anything, it teaches you the opposite. How to play within the lines, how to comply, when entrepreneurship has nothing to do with any of these.
And so, the thick skin comes into play. I repeat. You are way ahead of the vast majority if you can learn this early in life. I can guarantee you this.
How to gain think skin.
You need to become your best friend. We all need to rely on someone. But when we start a business, no one can envision 100% percent of what we are up to accomplish. They don’t believe in you, or they mock your plan. All these shouldn’t matter.
What you need is to erase all those factors out of your control. As many as you can. If you cannot delete the legal steps and everything I said before, you can erase the expectations from others. Don’t expect them to sustain you, help you, or trust you. Just don’t. But you also need someone to rely on, right? Yeep. It’s you.
Become Your Best Friend
So, starting this very moment, commit to becoming your best friend from now on and never let yourself down. You can count on yourself. You see the big picture. You’re the most competent one for the job.
Whenever something goes in the wrong direction, or someone treats you like you’re nothing, turn to your best friend. You. Tell him or her, “Hey, chill! They don’t see what you see.” What happens now has no power to determine the outcome. You can take it. It’s your dream. Make it happen. Who laughs at last laughs harder. Or, best revenge success. Or, any other motivational quote that inspires you.
Ideas to Surpass Adversity
If you want my mindset facets in such instances, to me, any setback gives me ten times the energy because it makes me stronger. In the past, I was like, “OK so this happened. Shake it, move on.” Or, “OK, so you do this to me now. Well, thanks. Now I’m more determined to prove you wrong.” The last one still shows a surrender of power to others. Today I don’t care to prove anyone wrong anymore, but I am fascinated to compete with myself. The way I was yesterday. It’s like, I have so many things to do and achieve that I refuse to lose any time on pity situations that count so little.
If something is more sensitive or painful, I shake myself, breathe, slow down a bit to relax and think, then go full gear ahead.
It’s about the thick skin I grew on the way. You can touch me, but it won’t last. I mean, you can still make me feel a negative way, but that effect can last minutes. Seriously. You need to do a lot of damage to make me lose my ways for more than ten minutes.
Charm Your Fears
If you’re determined to get rid of something or improve in any area, you can do that with discipline and conscious work. As soon as you feel hit by something, the first thing is to acknowledge it and expose it to yourself, your best friend. Everything exposed loses its power.
This is so true. Amazingly true.
So, expose it first – consciously. Look at it, analyze it like you have a microscope. Think about it like a foreign object, something that is not you, it’s an infection you can treat. Ok, this sounds a bit morbid. It’s an alien object that altered your optimal state.
Then comes a chit-chat with your best friend. Where you’re talking about the final goal, vision, mission…“Do you remember my friend where you wanna go? You’re on the way but still not there.” So it’s normal to face different landscapes. This is one. Just move forward and let this place behind. Go closer to your goal. Noone and nothing can stop you without your will. Make yourself accountable for everything.
This comes with a thick skin package. Because having a thick skin means somehow you created a circumstance where this noise, set back could enter your plan. Expose it, learn from it, and move forward.
Control Your State
The most powerful method to achieve anything in life, including thick skin, is to be in control of your state. Emotions and physiology determine your inner state. As soon as you can control your emotions and physiology, you control your behavior because the behavior is the ultimate visible part of what’s going on inside your mind that later translates into emotions and body language.
Next, depending on your feelings, you will act. Once your thick skin is in place, your inner state will be something like chill, cool, under control, under your control. And as you can presume, the physiology for such a state is a straight back, heads up or horizontal, slow deep breathing, laser vision into the future. No back looking.
Another quick and super-efficient way to alter your state in the right direction is to search YouTube about your issue. In 10-15 minutes, with the right video or videos, you should be ready to roll. Ok, if you need more, no problem. You’re doing something. You’re acting the right way, not letting your state control you and drag you into a depression.
As long as you keep a balanced state in your life, you’ll be in power. So why not shake the bad states as soon as possible and take over? Right states create a powerful, strong mindset with that thick skin on top, almost like a reward. These will lead you anywhere, without fail.
Ok. So I hope now you’re inspired to boost yourself up and start growing your startup without letting anything and anyone eat your energy up and make you give up.
It is also comforting to know that you are not alone in your situation. Growing a startup is difficult for anyone, no matter the background. Every startup founder goes through a certain kind of hell. It’s unavoidable. Unless you live in a Lala Land, in which case professional help is required.
Otherwise, it’s just part of the journey. But you can make it fun and engaging. This is where thick skin comes into play. The journey becomes transformative because this time, you’re armed with the right mindset, attitude, and behavior while gaining total control as the final cherry on the pie.
Cristina Imre – The Founder Coach That Takes Your Success to Heart!