Before we launch into understanding how belief in your startup plays into the first year of launching your new idea, let’s recap. In our last meeting, I spoke about creating a short term strategic plan to guide your actions as you start your new business. It’s an extremely important step to developing focus in the first quarter of your startup’s existence and it’s much different than a 1 or 2 year set of goals. Read it here if you haven’t already.
The Abstract Idea of Belief
For most of my adult life, I have been intrigued and obsessed by the idea of belief. Not necessarily in the traditional sense of God and religion, but of how it can impact your life as an individual or as a group of people. Stemming from my obsession with influential individuals throughout history that made a worldly impact on the way others think and perceive things, I’ve read handfuls of books about belief. From my studies, I’ve created my own understanding of what belief truly is and you can harness it to achieve the visions that you hold.
So…What is Belief?
Belief is the ability to have an unconditional confidence in an idea that you have so much so that your belief impacts the ultimate outcome of the situation.
Think of times in your life when you were at a breaking point and you didn’t think that you could go on. Let’s use a race as an example. You’ve trained and trained and trained and are finally running the marathon that you have been dreaming of for your entire life. You’ve hit mile 20 and you are exhausted. Your knees are throbbing, your head is spinning, and your throat can barely handle anymore water. You feel like every droplet of water has been sweated out and you are wondering how you’ll make it through the final 6 miles.
It’s at times like these when your belief in the ultimate vision that you’ve had for the past year while training kicks in and pushes your body into a survival mode to finish the race.
How Does Belief Relate to a Startup?
As entrepreneurs, belief is what pulls us out of ruts and keeps us riding the startup roller coaster that every business owner must endure at some point in their career. It’s that passionate belief that you have for your idea that keeps you pushing through the hardest times.
Belief in your startup and self-confidence are highly challenged in the first year of launching a new business. You are attempting to create a business that requires positive customer reaction, develops a perfect product fit, and creates a wealth of money for continued growth.
You are constantly being challenged — internally and externally — as the entrepreneur of the startup to reach the goals that you set out on the first day of young startup’s life. If too many negative experiences occur, you may falter to the belief of others and start to think that your startup is doomed to be a failure. It’s a big reason why millions of startups fail within the first year of being in business.
I’m here to teach you how to avoid that on your journey to startup success.
An Example from my Life: eCommetize
It’s now been a little over 2 months since my business partner and I started eCommetize. If you haven’t stumbled across it yet in my columns, eCommetize is an end-to-end solution for online influencers to begin selling products directly to their community.
Quick aside. You’ve been blogging about cooking for the past 6 years and now have a community of over 100,000 followers on social media. You’re site generates over 200,000 unique visitors per month and you’re thriving. You currently make money through affiliate product links, but the margins are dirt. eCommetize joins your team and builds you a full blow eCommerce business that is fully integrated into your site. We source your favorite products directly from the manufacturer and then manage all of the operations so you can stay focused on writing to your community.
Okay…back to belief! We have one client fully integrated. We signed client #2 two weeks ago and are in the process of building their store. We are signing client #3 and we have interest from 4 other potential clients who are being guided through our sales funnel. We registered as a corporation with the state of Florida. We’ve set up a bank account and credit card. And we’re meeting with our network of entrepreneurs in the Orlando area to further challenge our current ideas and ways of thought.
We’re at a good point.
However, it all wasn’t a joy ride. It took a lot of patience and belief in our short term strategic plan to reach where we are today.
Where Belief was Key
In the first two weeks of reaching out to potential clients with variations of our sales pitch, we received only a handful of responses from hundreds of emails that we had sent out. It was discouraging and it made us wonder…”why?”…”Is this idea not really solving a problem?”…”Are we going after the wrong market?”
Instead of hunkering on the negatives, we powered through and dove into the problem with a continued belief in our original idea. We pinpointed areas of our sales pitch where we could improve and we A/B tested with different versions to see how potential customers reacted. This led to a dramatic increase in our response rate putting us in a situation to talk to more and more potential clients about our business.
At a time when we could have allowed our belief to falter, we rallied behind that belief and kept pushing forward.
Starting to see the impact? As the founder and herald of the business, you must have and maintain a strong belief in your startup.
How to Build and Maintain Belief
There are a variety of ways that you can instill and grow belief in your startup. Depending on the type of person that you are will impact how quickly your belief will vary as you build your business. Here are 4 tips to help as you develop belief in your startup.
Weekly reflections on the short term future
Use the short term strategic plan that you created for the first quarter of your business and set aside time to reflect on it. Keeping a keen sight on who you want to become in the next three months will give you reasons to celebrate every week. If you are continuing to check off items on your action list, you have a reason to celebrate.
One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received was: “if nothing else, focus on adding value to your business every single day that you are working on it.” Start small and be consistent.
2. Celebrating the small victories
Go out and get drinks with your founding team when you reach a new milestone. Talk about how you got there and reflect on where you royally messed up. By creating memories around the good times, you will create an initial culture that continues to reward people in the future for making a positive impact on the business.
3. Recruiting a mentor
One of my biggest pieces of advice for all entrepreneurs is find and have a mentor. Over the past three years, I’ve probably met with over 50 people in the Orlando entrepreneurship community to learn about their lives and share stories. I love the experience because it forces you to learn something new and see your company from a different angle.
Through these coffees and lunches, I’ve developed real relationships with individuals that I gladly call my mentors and close friends. When you find the right mentor, they will be your champion in the good and bad times. Don’t overlook their impact.
4. Reading inspirational books
Finding the perfect book about one of your most beloved entrepreneurs and reading about their life as they built their companies is one of the most exhilarating activities you can do to boost your belief. As you read about their memorable life, you can compare where they were to where you are today and it motivates you to work towards your ultimate vision.
The Ultimate Goal: Belief Transfer
As a startup entrepreneur, the ultimate mecca of belief in your startup is belief transfer. Belief transfer is the ability to convince another person or group of people to believe in the vision that you hold for your company.
I’ll save my breath to explain how you can develop the ability to transfer the belief in your startup to others for another column, but keep it in mind as you fight through the first quarter of your business.
Imagine the possibilities if you could convince others that who you are striving to become is worthwhile. Investors walk into the picture. Customers flock to your product. Employees knock at your door. Publicity wants to know more. And a communal belief in the future of your company is started.
Belief is a powerful agent for entrepreneurs that is overlooked by many because of it abstract definitions. If you can harness the power of belief and discover how to transfer it to others, the first year of creating your startup is going to be much less difficult. You’ll sleep better, make progress faster, and see each speed bump as an opportunity to improve.