🖊 This article was last updated on June 12, 2019
Some people are born into greatness, while others have it thrust upon them. Still others, like me, stumble over it in the dark, breaking some furniture as they fall and bumping their heads into the coffee table.
When I was starting my business, I thought that if I was going to be a great entrepreneur, I had to know everything there was to know about business. I had to learn it all at once, and I had to know it before I even took my first baby steps into the world of small business.
What I have learned is that successful entrepreneurship isn’t one huge “A-HA!” moment. Sure, there are a few “A-ha’s,” but for the most part it is a series of smaller “oh, I see” steps along the way.
I found myself almost immediately in over my head as I struggled to learn all there is to know about starting and running my business. Everyone has a so-called “easy method” for nearly every step along the way, and I was trying to find hidden insights that would turn me into a master of business overnight. I was so overwhelmed and paralyzed by how much I didn’t know that I was afraid to even take my first steps towards establishing myself. At least, that’s what I told myself: I can’t move forward until I know everything there is to know about being an entrepreneur. I knew, for instance, how to run advanced Facebook ads before I even had a website.
From the outside, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing. I was learning so much valuable information, how could I possibly fail? There is a saying about a person not needing to see the whole staircase, just the first step; I refused to take the first step until I saw the whole staircase laid out in front of me with arrows pointing up and neon signs that said, “Step here!”
I realise now that my procrastination in applying what I had learned was rooted in self-doubt, fear of failure, and insecurity. The entire situation was self-defeating; I was scared because I didn’t know everything, but the more I learned, the more afraid I became because there was so much more to learn.
The most important thing I learned about learning is that I can’t know it all, and in fact, I don’t need to know it all. These days, I hold myself to a much more relaxed learning process known as “just-in-time-learning.” Now, I reserve my information searches to address a specific problem as it arises. When I have conquered that issue, I move on to the next one when it comes up.
You don’t have to be a master of everything to start your business. You need to take a more streamlined approach to answering questions and solving problems as they come up. Entrepreneurs who are just starting out have no end of people who are willing to take your money in exchange for the “one stop business plan” that guarantees your business will be a success overnight. The truth is, there is no such thing. Owning your business means learning something new every day, and recognizing that you don’t, and can’t, know it all.
And that’s perfectly fine.
What lessons have you learned from starting a business? Let me know in the comments below!