Our Chicago City Meetup speaker shares that starting a business is not easy, but losing your confidence is the worst thing you could do.
By Alex Batdorf (CMO, ZipFit)
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You are your own worst enemy.”
Not only is this very true, especially in entrepreneurship, but can be very damaging if you allow it to be. Being your own enemy is a great way to interfere with you being able to realize your own full potential.
When I started at ZipFit, I was fresh out of college and ready to take over the world (in the best way possible) I had tons of ideas and was excited to be a part of building something great with great people. A couple of months in, we had secured a good chunk of funding, which was a definite confidence booster. More than ever before, I felt I had to prove to everyone that I had what it took to help drive the company forward. A couple of months after receiving the news that we secured funding, the investor deferred and we only received 7 percent of the original commitment.
Over those next few months, not only was my team tested but the confidence I had in myself was too. While we struggled to find other investors, I kept finding reasons to blame myself for our shortcomings. My younger, ready to take over the world-self, seemed to be fading away, but that girl was a big part of where I had gotten. If it weren’t for my team and seeing their fight daily, that voice in my head would have knocked out the ambitious me.
Over that tough period of time, I learned some hard lessons on how to not make yourself your own enemy.
1. Make failure your frenemy.
The best advice someone could have given me prior to becoming an entrepreneur is to accept failure as one of the most constant elements you’ll experience not just in startups but in life. Instead, I definitely learned the hard way. After ZipFit went through a tough time, I realized that although failure didn’t make you feel good, it forced you to make a choice. Sulk or learn and move forward. My team and I chose the latter. Failure is inevitable so make it your frenemy. We don’t strive for failure at ZipFit, we work hard to be successful for ourselves and shareholders but we also realize failure is inevitable.
2. Stop comparing yourself.
I’m the youngest person on the ZipFit team by at least five years. The need for me to prove myself early on at ZipFit had a lot to do with the fact that I was the youngest and least experienced on my team. I had failed to realize that all of us had something to bring to the table regardless of what we had done or where we had been. That’s what makes startups so unique. Stop measuring your success againstother people’s accomplishments. When you’re too busy comparing yourself to others, you lose sight of what you have to offer.
3. There’s no formula for success.
There’s a ton of articles out there about the routines of “successful people” or what you need to do to be successful. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough articles out there telling people that success has no formula. Waking up at 5am every morning, running 10 miles or meditating, don’t ensure success. These tactics are what might work for other people. It’s up to you to determine if they work for you but if they don’t, don’t beat yourself up over it. Determine what motivates you to keep doing what you do everyday. It can be anything from playing ultimate frisbee to playing the guitar. As long as it keeps you motivated, it works.
4. “The wise man that knows something knows he knows nothing at all.”
Many sources have been quoted along these lines but to me, Erykah Badu says it best. I wanted so badly to have all of the answers to fixing the predicament ZipFit was in that I forgot what had drawn me to startups in the first place. It’s one of the few industries you’re not pressured to know it all because everyone is in the same boat, trying to figure it out as you go. Stop putting stress on yourself to know all the answers because that will never happen. The best you can do is to do your best and learn as much as you can along the way.
After ZipFit’s tough predicament, it took a few months for me to stop being my own worst enemy. Until this day, I still have to keep my judgmental self in check. Today, I mostly focus on how I can be the best me not only for myself but for ZipFit as well. I’m confident enough today in saying, we’re ready to take over the world!