My answer at the time was that over the past 24 years of working for other people, I’ve gotten a lot of experience as an intrapreneur: getting new things started, turning lousy situations around, reading people and building internal and external business relationships, achieving measurable results. I was more than prepared to jump out on my own.
However, thinking about that question some more, I’m reminded that confidence doesn’t stem purely from experience. As in everything human, there’s some nature, some nurture, what I’ve learned through experience, and lots of timing and luck involved.
For me, what also contributed to confidence for me is a whole bunch of different factors, the most useful and noticeable ones being:
- My deep desire for independence (nature)
- My excitement for and enjoyment in the coaching work and client relationship (nature, nurture, experience)
- My willingness to experiment and make mistakes (nature, experience)
- Having our most significant near-term financial hurdle (i.e., child’s college bills) taken care of, along with a financial cushion saved up (nurture, experience, timing)
- Thinking about this as a long-term proposition rather than a 2-3 year toe-dipping exercise (experience)
- Having a spouse who is super-supportive (good timing and great luck)
With 1/3 of new businesses failing within the first two years, and 44% by year five, it’s clear that no amount of experience can guarantee success. Most people who start businesses don’t have anything other than a deep desire for independence, and yet are still able to succeed.
Not being a serial entrepreneur, what I’ve learned so far is that I could never have prepared sufficiently for what I’m encountering with a new business without just going ahead with one. For example, I couldn’t have foreseen the low-level anxiety from needing to be productive at all waking hours (that took about 6 months for me to identify as “not useful!” and another couple of months to tame), which is humanly impossible!
A businessowner is in a position that requires her to look forward, backward, inward, sideways, and upward, sometimes all at the same time, in order to make the best decisions that a human can make. With no guarantees and built-in error rate.
The important thing is if something calls to you, throw yourself into the mix and start playing, because until you do so, you’re only waiting at the sidelines, obsessing over how you’ll perform when the ball is thrown at you.